Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
The Observer

A-AR Web Graphic.jpg

The confessions of a former emo: The All-American Rejects perform at Four Winds Field

The emo band brings the South Bend community together though their concert at the home of the South Bend Cubs.

I know I’m not alone when I say, “Yeah I know that band. I was ‘emo’ in middle school.” The All-American Rejects are the prime example of this genre. From blasting “Gives You Hell” after arguments with my parents over eyeliner to listening to “Move Along” through corded headphones while crying over a two week-long relationship, The All-American Rejects were a staple of awkward preteen years for myself and so many other angsty children of Generation Z.

Naturally, after seeing an advertisement pop up for an All-American Rejects concert right down the road at Four Winds Field, I became possessed by nostalgia. After getting a few friends (all recovering emo kids) on board with this adventure, I had to sit and think to myself, “When was the last time I've actually listened to an All-American Rejects song?”

For a couple of weeks leading up to the concert, I did some catching up. They lived up to my dreams and had some bangers. Along with being excited for their oldies from the mid to late 2000s, I was getting excited about new songs like their sexy 2017 song “Sweat.”

On the day of the concert, my smart friends packed into my car with blankets and hoodies, while my non-midwestern friends ignored the predictions of the ever-essential weather app, sporting shorts and T-shirts. I can’t really blame the non-midwesterners for their presumptuous attire, though, considering a couple days ago we were getting sunburnt in between classes. As soon as we parked the car on some random side street (thank you SBPD for not ticketing me) and got out, my non-midwestern friends were doing jumping jacks trying to keep warm. We all agreed it would be a good excuse to stop by the merch table and pick up some All-American Rejects gear to cover up with.

Once in the home of the South Bend Cubs, we went to the Cubs Den team shop, teeth chattering, hopeful to find some sort of All-American Rejects merch. Upon arrival, we overheard the cashier inform another group of people that the band did not want a merch stand. Slightly disappointed, we walked out, thrilled and warm with our cute South Bend Cubs merch built for Indiana weather.

Later, just a short time before The All-American Rejects were set to perform, my friends and I made our way down the aisle of burnt, plastic baseball seating peppered with fans. We showed our wristbands and walked down onto the baseball field, ballpark food in hand. We started looking for prime spots to see the band from our awkward alternative childhoods.

I honestly had no clue there was a preshow. It ended up being a nice surprise from Bishop Briggs. The only song my friends and I knew was “River,” which is still a decently popular song on TikTok. She had a really quirky and soft air about her as she squeaked out “thank you’s“ and out of pocket one-liners like, “This song is for my baby daddy.” Her energy was super strong yet lighthearted, despite her alternative style and heavy messages in her songs, which set the perfect mood for The All-American Rejects.

When The All-American Rejects came out, the crowd went wild and so did I … but probably not for the same reason. Yeah, it was great music … but Tyson Ritter! He came out in a disco ball-esque neon green space suit and a standard black beanie. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Who am I looking at?” Not complaining, as I’m certain the 40 going on 25-year-old Cillian Murphy twin could pull off just about anything. The lead singer’s outfit was in major contrast to the luscious-locked guitarist, Mike Kennerty, who was wearing jeans with a striped shirt paired with a white collared undershirt. It reminded me a little bit of Walt Jr. from “Breaking Bad.” The sounds of beloved favorites like “Dirty Little Secret” were just as good in the 2020s as they were in the 2000s, and their new songs were candidates for my day-to-day playlists. This definitely wasn’t the band I remembered, but their new songs had a refreshing sort of nostalgia that reflects authentic growth.

During the time between songs, one of the band members used an expletive and Tyson Ritter cut him off, humorously giving a shout out to the prominent Catholic community in South Bend. This sent the group of Notre Dame merch-clad undergrad students sitting in front of me into a frenzy. 

As the concert went on, drunken millennials got worse and worse at pretending like they knew the lyrics to half of the songs. I asked the woman next to me, a local in her mid-30s who was there with her son, what she thought of the show. She expressed her excitement as a 15+ year fan of the band but admitted to not knowing any of their new songs. She told me that if someone were to go back in time and tell her teenage self that she would be at an All-American Rejects concert with her own child, she wouldn’t believe them. 

When the sun went down the smoke started to rise, it looked like there were little campfires speckled throughout the baseball field. As my nose hairs burned, I clicked my phone on to see that the date was April 20. Tyson Ritter acknowledged the obvious by announcing into the mic, “Ah 4/20 … Never really understood what this holiday was about,” followed by a guilty laugh from the crowd.

The concert ended in a nail-biting encore, as the crowd begged The All-American Rejects to sing two of their most-famous songs, “Move Along” and “Gives You Hell.” During “Move Along,” I watched the millennial mom, her son and the undergrad students sing, dance and laugh together. As the final chorus came up in “Gives You Hell,” the entire stadium pounded our fists into the air and chanted till our vocal cords gave out. This is in my top five moments when South Bend felt like a community and not just a college town.

The concert was a fun time, and it honestly sparked a discovery of this new era of The All-American Rejects that matured with me. I guess something good did come out of my angsty, awkward emo phase in middle school.