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Concert Reviews:
5 Seconds of Summer redefines "boy band" at The Palace

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2015

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AUBURN HILLS -- There were surely some adults at The Palace on Wednesday night, Aug. 19, who shuddered when 5 Seconds of Summer declared "we are the voice of the new generation" in its song "Permanent Vacation."

But that might not be such a bad thing.

The Australian quartet is a rock group dressed in boy band clothing thanks to plenty of pop airplay and a couple of seasons opening for One Direction. But 5SOS has more in common with, say, Good Charlotte or All Time Low -- whose members it collaborated with on its 2014 debut album -- than it does with *NSYNC or Backstreet Boys. Or One Direction, for that matter.

So the beleaguered looking parents who accompanying the legion of overwhelmingly young girls who packed The Palace could take some solace that their kids were being introduced to the concept of a band that played instruments -- through giant stacks of Marshall amplifiers, no less -- and sourced acceptable influences such as Green Day (covering "American Idiot"), Metallica (via guitarist Michael Clifford's T-shirt) and Detroiters Eminem ("Lose Yourself") and the Romantics (a show-closing "What I LIke About You"). There were melodic pop melodies aplenty during the 95-minute, 20-song show, but there were also songs that would not sound out of place at a Vans Warped Tour Stop, and the whole affair was blessedly free of the usual choreography, costume changes, pyrotechnics and confetti that the 5SOS audience has come to expect from its other favorites.

There was also a kind of raw, rough-and-tumble quality to the show that was welcome in its own way -- a sign of genuineness, even though it was evident that not all the band members' voices made it back from the one-week break that preceded Wednesday's show. And bassist Calum Hood was roundly chided when he told the crowd "it's taken four years" for 5SOS to make it to the Detroit area -- when, in fact, it was the group's fourth performance here in two years.

And an attempt to bring a purple-haired female fan named Maria onstage to play guitar -- ala Green Day or Foo Fighters -- did not quite pan out, though it presumably gave the band members a quick rest.

Nevertheless, 5SOS charged through its set with spirited energy, accented by a six-screen video presentation and risers that took the amplifiers as well as drummer Ashton Irwin up and down throughout the night. With only one album to know at this point, the crowd sang along to tracks such as "End Up Here," "Voodoo Doll," "Wrapped Around Your Finger and "Heartache on the Big Screen" as easily as they did hits such as "She Looks So Perfect," "Amnesia" and "Don't Stop" sang along from start to finish. They also belted out the good-humored new single "She's Kinda Hot," though the group did single out one man in an orange shirt, seated to one side of the stage, who volunteered that he didn't know any of the words.

Whether 5SOS does go on to become an important force in rock remains to be seen. But on Wednesday the group showed that, if nothing else, it was a good portal into the genre for its youthful fans and a reminder that a boy band can indeed be an actual band and not just a group of dancing human hydrofoils.

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