Op-Ed: 5 Seconds Of Summer May Not Be Saving Pop-Punk, But They’re Representing It
When looking around at a 5 Seconds of Summer show, the first thing you notice is the hordes of girls that rival Fall Out Boy’s early amphitheater crowds. Let’s be honest, the Black Clouds and Underdogs Tour was filled with girls in love with Pete Wentz ,and their boyfriends who really wanted to be okay with that. 5 Seconds of Summer has that same feel. Walking into a crowd full of males and females who came together and alone left quite a bit of a shock. Yes, males do like their music. Parents stood in the back with drinks in hand, trying to remind themselves not to just leave. Screaming could be heard at every moment from somewhere, but not a moment was unappreciated.
Maybe it was just the entire crowd knowing every word to “Teenage Dirtbag” and “American Idiot”, or maybe it was the fact that Calum Hood was proudly wearing a Glamour Kills shirt at their biggest headliner to date that left me feeling a bit more punky than I did when I saw them at One Direction. But if I’m being honest, it was the entire night. It was the running around of Michael Clifford and Luke Hemmings, and the snarky remarks from drummer Ashton Irwin that made me feel right at home despite being 21 and initially feeling way too old to be there. It was girls calling dibs on band members that brought me back to early days of All Time Low fans, dubbed “boardies”. It reminded me of how absolutely ridiculous everyone was in this scene.
It was hard not to be impressed when they brought a fan on stage who was insanely good at the guitar, and jokingly kicked Clifford out of the band. Beyond the insults thrown at each other and the pure love for the crowd, it felt like any other pop-punk show.
There were jokes about being naked, a lot of the use of the word “fuck” and even a very humorous screw up during “Kiss Me Kiss Me” by Clifford that gave the band even more room for them to make fun of themselves. Was it the best performance on the Ak-Chin Stage? Probably not, but it’s where they’re headed that matters. It’s a warming feeling seeing a 7-year-old rock out to “American Idiot” without a care in the world, not having a clue what she’s singing about.
But mostly, it was Irwin’s speech before the song “Rejects” that made the pop-punk feel rush through your veins. A “Therapy”-esque, Pete Wentz like opening to an anthem that basically says “yeah I suck, but you suck too, let’s all suck together” felt appropriate given 5 Seconds of Summer’s cited influences. Everyone in the crowd seemed to identify with the feeling of not quite fitting in.
They make stupid jokes and they have songs about things that we don’t understand. They have the dyed hair, the sass, and the loyal, never-wavering fanbase. It is these qualities that makes 5 Seconds of Summer fit in in the pop-punk scene. They have opinions, and they’re not shy about them. The perverted joke crown has been passed down by their mentors in All Time Low. They encompass the ideals of the pop-punk society we have all come to embrace and love. Their fans are forced to embrace these ideals or leave. Maybe narrow-minded listeners are looking at it the wrong way.
So when asked if I think 5 Seconds of Summer are “saving pop-punk”, I’m immediately inclined to say “YES!” But the logical side, and the part of me who has been in this scene for so long, knows that we’re not even asking the right question. It’s not a matter of “saving” pop-punk, because it’s not going anywhere. We’re still seeing huge turnouts for bands like Fall Out Boy, Blink 182, All Time Low, Pierce the Veil, A Day To Remember, and more. However, the newer generation, these younger bands are having a bit more difficulty catching on. You’re not seeing bands come up like they used to. It’s more about social media than the music, and 5 Seconds of Summer might be the key to that change. It’s a matter of re-exposing pop-punk to the masses of screaming girls who were once 12 at a Fall Out Boy show with their moms, and simultaneously bringing a whole new generation along for the ride.
It is the strength that we have as a scene and the power that 5 Seconds of Summer holds that really truly exemplifies what we are missing from pop-punk/alternative fans these days: universal acceptance. Musically, they may not fit perfectly into the perimeters of the genre, but that never stopped the mid-2000s emo kids from loving bands like Cobra Starship, Tegan and Sara, The Summer Set, and The Maine. These bands became pillars of the alternative scene because listeners were drawn to them. In my time, I have never seen a band meet so much resistance to acceptance in this scene. All the pillars, all the big names, and everyone behind the big names are supporting this band. It’s time fans stop with the arguing, over whether they’re “pop-punk” and start being grateful that pop-punk finally has a big name out there again.
The most pop-punk thing about 5 Seconds of Summer is that they love pop-punk, and the entire alternative scene. Whenever asked about their musical influences or who inspires them, they referenceWarped Tour veterans. Their youthfulness, and ability to bring that grand exposure back that Yellowcard, Fall Out Boy and Green Day once had can only benefit the pop-punk community. It could be the best thing to happen to the genre or it could be the worst thing, but regardless, it’s happening.
(written by Shelby Chargin)