5 Seconds of Summer – York Fair – York, PA – September 13, 2018
There’s something magical in those first few seconds after the lights dim, signaling the band’s arrival on stage. Your ears ring and fill with static as the crowd erupts with elated screams.
The set opens with “Babylon,” before Luke, Calum, Ashton, and Michael have even taken their rightful spots on stage. The crowd, packed right up against the barricade, doesn’t miss a beat, though. Their singing is nearly drowning out the guys as the stage lights go up and everyone is finally able to actually see the band they’ve been waiting months for.
The stage is a giant neon box, periodically illuminating the entire venue and providing a stunning backlight against the guys’ black clothing. They don’t slow down, even between songs. All four members of 5 Seconds of Summer hype up the crowd and take turns speaking. Playful, typically light banter is exchanged.
After a string of songs from their most recent (and record breaking, giving them their third consecutive #1 in the US) album, they played the lead single “She’s Kinda Hot” off their sophomore album Sounds Good Feels Good. You could turn to anyone in that place and see they were having a good time, even some of the security guards were singing along.
Everything is glowing red as the set moves into “More” and “Better Man.” Then it switches to a mix of purples and blues, as we get to bear witness to drummer Ashton Irwin’s high notes during the chorus of “If Walls Could Talk.”
The fans cheer at the rare occurrence. The crowd and band jump in unison. Na, na, na, na. Na, na, na, na, na, na. The bridge kicks in and so do the strobe lights. The world is in slow-motion and rushing around you all at once. You can feel the drums in your chest. The crowd takes over and for a moment. It seems as though the guys have stopped singing, but they haven’t. York, Pennsylvania is just that loud. With an instrumental breakdown in near darkness, the song comes to an end.
After non-stop dancing and several moments of thanking the small but very rowdy audience, it was time to slow things down for a couple of ballads. The first was “Ghost of You,” which fans were positive would never make it to the set. Lead guitarist Luke Hemmings asks everyone to pull out their cellphones and light-up the venue. There’s a beautiful scratch of guitar strings and stage lights almost aren’t necessary.
The slowdown of a set is always my favorite part. You can feel as everything negative falls away. Anyone in that room could be your best friend during these moments. There’s swaying and the band steps back, looks of amazement cross each of their faces, as they allow the crowd to take over and sing their solos for them. It ends with a single spotlight and a white piano, then fades to black.
This is where things take a new turn for the band. The four walk off. Only lead guitarist, Michael Clifford, and bassist, Calum Hood, return. They’ve recently added “The Only Reason” from an EP they released back in their slightly younger days, to their set. Michael sings lead and his mic feeds directly to the keyboard where Calum is, adding an electric tone over Clifford’s vocals. It’s a partial song, still experimental. The fans are impressed, nonetheless, and then it’s right back into the high-energy songs they’re known for.
Just before closing the set, 5 Seconds of Summer performs an instrumental version of “Meet You There,” the tour’s title track. The crowd, never failing to impress, sings the lyrics where they show up on the studio version of the song. Then it’s on to the first single of their most recent album, “Want You Back.” The lights fade, the band leaves the stage, and almost immediately the crowd begins chanting a mix of “5SOS, 5SOS, 5SOS!” and “ENCORE, ENCORE, ENCORE!”
To no one’s surprise, there is a two-song-encore. It begins with one that even the parents and boyfriends will know. Fans raise rainbow flags, in support of LGBTQ+, during “She Looks So Perfect.” A few people toss their flags on stage and Michael struggles to attach one to the end of his guitar, while Calum fixes one to his microphone.
There’s a feeling of unity floating through the air and the set switches into the title track of this era, “Youngblood,” after final thank yous have been said. There’s one last push, band to crowd, to get involved and sing as loud as possible. “Make sure everyone on those rides can hear you!”
Just as quickly as it began, it ends. The screaming lasts a few more minutes, but the ringing in your ears and the memories made that night will continue on long after the stage has cleared and all the seats have been emptied. Fans leave with guitar pics and torn apart drumsticks, thrown to the crowd by each band member. The excited buzz lingers a bit longer. 5 Seconds of Summer holds true to their promise of it being a night to remember.
Copyright ©2018 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: September 17, 2018.
Photos by Kaiti Fleeger © 2018