Serving as the opening act for One Direction as they embark on a summer tour of stadiums would seem a rather daunting, and possibly thankless, task for a young band. It's great exposure, sure, but will those tens of thousands of screaming teenage girls pay any attention to the first act as they wait anxiously for Liam, Harry, Louis, Zayn and Niall to take the stage?
Thanks to the incredible year that 5 Seconds of Summer has been having, it's not a problem at all. In fact, when the Australian quartet took the stage on a rainy Monday night (August 11) at D.C.'s Nationals Ballpark, there was a loud and proud contingent that had clearly come to show them the love. (You can see a shot of some of them, with 5SoS specific signs, in the slideshow.) For those in the crowd who might not have known right away who was onstage, a short, sharp, 45-minute set that included two covers - Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" and The Romantics' "What I Like About You" - plus one of the summer's punkiest pop hits, "She Looks So Perfect," worked well to win them over.
5SoS have been called a "boy band," a description they're clearly not crazy about, but it actually describes them better than previous acts, including 1D, that have worn the label. The four guys - Luke Hemmings (lead vocals, guitar), Michael Clifford (guitar, vocals), Calum Hood (bass, vocals) and Ashton Irwin (drums, vocals) - are all still in their teens and the boyishness still shows, especially on a Jumbotron screen, in rough skin and barely-there stubble. As for being an actual band, the group write their own songs (sometimes with help) and play their own instruments, with no back-up musicians onstage.
An even more radical departure from typical boy-bandness comes in 5SoS's sound, which owes more to emo- and pop-punk groups like All Time Low or Fall Out Boy than the pop/dance and soft R&B balladry of Backstreet Boys or *NSYC. From the music that preceded them taking the stage (AC/DC's "Highway to Hell") to the ripped T-shirts they wore (props paid to Motley Crue, Sublime and Green Day), 5 Seconds of Summer declared their dedication to a more raw, guitar-driven style that still had just enough romance, as in the new single, "Amnesia," to make the girls swoon.
Unlike most opening acts, 5 Seconds of Summer had their own elaborate stage set and were featured in pre-show video clips that elicited screams of support from the waiting audience. Having their self-titled album hit the number one spot in the charts just last month, and sharing a management team with One Direction doesn't hurt, either. (1D featured the band on its "Take Me Home" tour and most of this stadium run.)
After 5 Seconds of Summer finished their set with the singalong excitement of "She Looks So Perfect" ("standing there/in my American Apparel underwear") and a roar of approval, a glowing billboard above the stage announced that the band will be headlining its own show in September at Jiffy Lube Live. Having proven itself in front of a crowd of more than 40,000 with a likeable, listenable set of pop/punk, headlining such a venue should be a piece of cake for these guys.