Four Year Strong
March 11th at Brighton Music Hall
By: Jakob Farham
Local heroes of pop punk Four Year Strong have set out on a tour to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their album, entitled Rise or Die Trying. They had two consecutive shows in Boston, both of which brought sold out crowds. They were accompanied by a local opener, as well as Acadia, Light Years, Sleep On It, and Can’t Swim, who will accompany the band throughout the entire tour.
The expectation for most shows like this, such as the annual Four Year Strong concert at the Worcester Palladium, is that the openers will be more of the same sound with very little to distinguish themselves. This sentiment means that a large portion of the audience misses the first band (or 3 in some cases). Those who neglected to come when the doors opened missed a surprisingly strong showing from Maine born and bred Acadia. This local indie group brought together a relatively softer sound than the tour’s headliner, but they put on a high-energy show as a crowd slowly trickled in. This group set themselves apart in the middle of their relatively short set by slowing down the show and sending three members to wait behind stage as the lead singer and guitarist got much more intimate with the audience, performing their song “Callisto,” which will be released along with a new EP this summer. While some headliners do this, I have never seen an opening act have so much courage to try this approach, and it flowed beautifully, with the whole band returning to belt out the last chorus as if they were friends around a campfire would. This rather risky performance paid off wonderfully; they put smiles on the whole audience and simply had fun with their show, something that isn’t easy to convey as a performer. With a sound that was reminiscent of Warped Tour and banter that was surprisingly on par, if not better than that of the following acts, this band is on the rise, and they’re bound to only go up from here. I am personally thrilled to hear what may come from their studio session this summer.
It is no secret that the biggest lacking in most opening bands is their ability to interact with their audience, losing a connection. This cannot be said for the next act, Light Years, a band younger than the album they were touring in celebration of. They arrived on stage ready to perform, putting on a high-energy show that unfortunately fell on deaf ears as the audience was getting settled. The lead singer, Pat Kennedy, charged with interacting with a group of people he knew were here waiting for a performance three bands after him, did a spectacular job at talking between sets and getting the audience energized. His sardonic humor complimented the solid performance the group put on; they came with a task and they carried it out wonderfully. While the sound was nothing ingenious and new, it was fun, and that’s what an anniversary show is focused on.
As Sleep On it came up to the plate, the minimal floor space became quite packed as they delivered what could only be described as an explosive performance that brought the audience to life. From start to finish there was no pause in the excitement and energy. While the set did not fail to entertain, it was rather lacking in terms of individuality. The band are a new group with only one EP, Lost Along the Way, which came out in 2016. As a group, they put on a solid performance with a sound that is like that of most other artists in their genre. A highlight of their live show was the lead vocalist’s ability to control the stage while performing, he truly poured himself into the show, physically and emotionally.
Before the final opener Can’t Swim stepped on stage there was anticipation for what was to come, everyone in the audience looking for an audible call to start a mosh pit. This band brought a relatively confusing blend of music together, with two rhythm guitarists and the lead vocalist on guitar as well. The sound got a little jumbled and almost even hard to follow. This band did a wonderful job putting together a live show, but they were opening for the wrong band. There wasn’t nearly enough energy in their style to prime a crowd for a Four Year Strong show, they were somewhat of an ugly duckling on this tour.
The main event, Four Year Strong, came onto the stage with an explosive greeting from the audience. The entire floor roared with excitement and pressed forward, the already packed hall pressed closer to the stage until we lost room to even move under our own volition. The band played the entire album Rise or Die Trying from beginning to end and the audience ate it up, hearing songs they knew every word to, shouting it back with a wild fervor. There aren’t many words to describe the events that ensued. The concert was a celebration; it was a friend’s welcome home party that everyone had been waiting months for. Four Year Strong has never been good at banter and that held true, they still didn’t wow the audience with humor or engaging talk or performing ability, but they have fun on stage. The band never took a break, they kept performing through and through, it was hard to rest even after they left the stage. The uproar that followed them held strong until they returned to play their hit “Wasting Time” off their album Enemy of the World. The concert was by no means a display of strength and range, it was pure and simple fun. The elation that could be seen on everyone’s faces once they left was so simple and pure was enough of an argument for me to see their concert again the next night, aware that the setlist would be the same. They have remained a stable icon in the genre of punk, maintaining a constant style over the years. While they may be viewed as outdated, they have kept a fanbase that has continued to stay loyal for many years to come.
Four Year Stong, Light Years, Can’t Swim, SLEEP ON IT, Acadia @ Brighton Music Hall By Ingrid Angulo