Written by Kylee Winn-Thurrott and Photographs by Ashley Sherwood
Oklahoma band, The All-American Rejects stopped in Toronto on April 18, 2012 at the Phoenix, with friends A Rocket To The Moon. Now, the last time I saw AAR, was 6 years ago, almost to the day, when they opened up for Fall Out Boy on the Black Clouds and Underdogs Tour. Since then, they’ve found success with such songs as Move Along and Gives You Hell, plus appearances on TV shows, Smallville and House.
Meanwhile, A Rocket To The Moon have grown into a more maturing sound in the past few years, while touring nonstop. They had many fans in the audience, girls held up finger hearts, singing along to every song, while throwing in some “woos” as slicked back hair, lead singer Nick Santino spoke. Telling the all the agers crowd that they’re just to drink beer and pick up chicks. They pulled out the acoustic guitars at one point, stripping down songs that gave a more country feeling to the pop-punk band. As they flirted with the crowd, saying Canada is very pretty, with pretty girls, giving Much Music VJ Jesse Giddings a personal shout out (he seems to be at every show these days). This was my second time seeing A Rocket To The Moon, last they were opening up for Cobra Starship and Boys Like Girls on the Love Drunk Tour, and I see a difference. They’ve started to come into own, I’m glad they’ve decided to go the root they have, the country aspect of their set felt real to me more than the bubble gum-rock-pop they are more known for.
At 10 minutes after 9pm, the stage had blue and purple lighting scanning around as a funky beat took place in the Phoenix. Opening up with one of their biggest hits, Dirty Little Secret, lead singer Tyson Ritter’s vocals seemed to have been drowned out by the rest of the band for the first couple of songs. Calling Toronto “T-Town”, Tyson brought high energy to the stage, with the remaining members following suit. The crowd seemed to be feeding off of the band’s energy as the whole room felt electrified. The new sound of The Rejects has a more retro sound, having Tyson use a special microphone on stage. He told stories about moving from Oklahoma to L.A, meeting a girl with a ripped shirt, falling in love with her, and finding out she slept around. He briefly talked about how they were being filmed for some sort of Canadian of The Month special, which I tried to find more about, but nothing came up. The band told the crowd how Toronto has sketchy places in the city and that they’re use to dirt roads. They took a picture of the Toronto crowd for Twitter, then Tyson singled out a red head girl in the front who had stolen his heart; “Now just a photo Red”. At one point, it was just Tyson and the piano player on stage as he danced around to what seemed like some sort of swan dance, which then turned into the beginning of their ballad It Ends Tonight. The encore included an acoustic sit down of just guitarist Nick Wheeler and Tyson, then bringing out the full band for It Gives You Hell.
I spoke with guitarist Nick Wheeler afterwards about how much they’ve changed in the past 10 years as a band. I feel like they have more confidence, they know who their fans are and what they want. They value that relationship with the fans, staying after the show to go meet and greet, posting pictures of the crowds on Twitter, and staying true to who they are as a band and as individuals. Overall, I think The All-American Rejects have already proven that they’re here to stay.