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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Four Year Strong Celebrates ‘Rise or Die Trying’

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The weekend of March 10 to 12 found Worcester natives, Four Year Strong, kicking off the US leg of the ten-year celebration of their monumental sophomore easy-core LP, “Rise or Die Trying,” with three New England shows—the first in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and then two sold-out nights at Brighton Music Hall in Boston.
Considering Boston an ostensible hometown crowd, the dudes in Four Year Strong always bring everything they’ve got to their fans. This tour also packed in so much pop punk that fans were damn-near required to show up early to the gig to have the full experience of what the Takeover tour had to offer.
Filling out the bill were Burlington, Vermont locals, The Red Summer Sun; as well as newcomers to the Equal Vision Records family, Sleep On It; perennial pop-punk openers, Light Years; and the much-hyped alt-pop punk outfit, Can’t Swim.
The Red Summer Sun opened the evening for the already half-filled room with a solid set of upbeat, groovy, and emotional tunes. The dudes were noticeably antsy to be opening for a number of bands they respected, but played through with a great deal of promise—hyping the recording of a new EP, and even debuting a new track for the many fresh ears in the crowd.
Speaking of fresh, Sleep On It released “Lost Along the Way,” a fun five-song EP, in late 2016. This was the debut release for the band, which found them connected with Equal Vision Records—a label synonymous with giving a wide variety of bands the chance to reach a broader audience.
Sleep On It brought the energy and poise of veteran bands like State Champs and Knuckle Puck, and had a number of boisterous fans in the crowd; many could hardly contain themselves as the band played through the jams on their EP. The band has a sound that can compete with and compliment newer acts like AS IT IS, Like Pacific, and label-mates, Waterparks.
Up next was the comedic relief of the evening, Light Years. Affectionately, the dudes in Light Years don’t take themselves too seriously—even when the content of their music is often quite personal. Singer/guitarist Pat Kennedy found a way to josh around about the band’s tenure in the pop punk scene, his lack of health care, and even some light politics.
Through all the joshing, Light Years played a few tracks off of its 2015 LP, “I’ll See You When I See You,” and has continued honing its craft over the last few years as one of the go-to bands when suggesting newer pop punk acts to friends.
Hailing from New Jersey, Can’t Swim was celebrating the release of its debut LP, “Failed You Again,” which came out that Friday on Pure Noise Records. “Failed You Again” is an early favorite in the album of the year discussion, as it is a true progression from the band’s debut 2016 EP “Death Deserves a Name,” and it delivers a number of riff-heavy, bad-ass tracks that make this feel like an entirely different band.
While the band intended to perform more tracks from the new LP, its drummer was unable to play on our gig, so the set was performed with a drum-tech, and primarily featured selections from its EP. Yet the band was able to put forward dominant performances of lead singles “Stranger” and “We Won’t Sleep,” which are true stand-out songs on “Failed You Again.”
At last, Four Year Strong, the dudes of the night, took the stage to the sounds of static in the intro track, “The Takeover.” The crowd immediately erupted into joyful singalong and a chaos of dancing, pushing, and jumping.
The takeover had begun.
“Rise or Die Trying” is a landmark album for the realm of pop punk and, more specifically, the sub-genre of “easy-core,” which is personified through bands that mix elements of pop punk with hardcore or metal—similarly to New Found Glory and A Day to Remember. The album is truly full of jams, and when this anniversary tour was announced, it was mind-blowing to think of experiencing the entire album front-to-back in one night.
As the band poured through the album, the crowd did not relent, which is good because vocalist/guitarist Dan O’Connor made it clear that his voice was fading in and out. Noticing this, the other vocalist/guitarist of the band, Alan Day, made sure to assert himself fully and completely in the songs that followed. Both men trade off lines flawlessly and share a vocal style that makes the two nearly indiscernible.
Before launching into “Beatdown in the Key of Happy,” a fan yelled that he knew how to play the song, so Day challenged the fan to come on stage and play. We learned this fan’s name was Pat and, sure-as-hell, he could play the song—even launching into the song with the full band before reluctantly handing Day’s guitar back to him and stage-diving back into the crowd.
After the album ended, fans clearly wanted more, and Four Year Strong was not going to let them down. The band rocked out to seven more songs from their other albums before leaving the stage from their second sold-out show in Brighton Music Hall, ready to take over the rest of the anniversary Takeover tour.