The Australian band 5 Seconds of Summer took to the Today Show Plaza October 28th for a rocking free performance and I was lucky enough to attend.
I arrived at 30 Rock at the painfully early 5:45am to wait in the press line for the band’s performance. The boys were to play 4 songs over the course of 2 hours, so I was in for some cold, drizzly weather. Luckily I had good company with some fellow writers and my friend to keep me company during the wait.
Around 6:30am the band came on for soundcheck. They played first an instrumental “She Looks So Perfect” as the boys were still warming up their voices. They then charged through power ballad “Amnesia” and new single “Hey Everybody!” resulting in the usual whispers of its similarity to Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like The Wolf.”
Before the boys left the stage Ashton turned around on his drum kit and smiled at my friend and I standing directly behind him still waiting to get let into the press pen. He moaningly said “it’s so early!” to which we replied with laughs and some head nods. I then told him to smile for me so I can get some good shots, to which he replied with another sleepy smile and a nod before hopping off his drum kit and heading back inside to change for the show and record the sit down interview.
At almost 7am we were ushered into the press pen where I stood on the second level far left to try and get the best angle of the band. Pleased with my position, I waited just a few minutes for the boys to come back on with a coffee-fueled energy for “She Looks So Perfect”.
In between songs, Luke and Ashton would toddle off the stage for some more coffee while Michael and Calum took to entertaining the mob of fans that had gathered for the show. Michael would play a few chords and repeatedly tell us he didn’t know what to talk about, which resulted in screams of excitement anyways. Calum mainly fiddled with his bass and smiled as the fans chanted “Malum”, the beloved name for the Clifford-Hood duo.
The boys then returned to the stage for single off their self-titled album, “Amnesia”. Afterwards the band all remained on stage for an interview. While the mics weren’t on for the crowd, the fans enjoyed watching the band all interact. At this point, Luke took it upon himself to lead the band in an instrumental of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses followed by some AC/DC riffs. While not every fan in the crowd may have known what was happening, all the rock music lovers were jamming out. The playful interludes resulted with some mysoginistic grumbles from the men in the press box insulting the band and their fans, but the audience stood strong, their passion for the music and the boys stronger than any criticism from a photographer.
Ashton then announced that the band was to play two songs off their new album, saying, “make these songs look better than the last two so we can stop playing those and start playing these.” The boys have been subtly hinting in interviews over the course of the past month that they’re ready to lose the training wheels they wore on the first album and grow into a true rock band. Ashton makes this point abundantly clear with his comment. 5 Seconds of Summer then broke into their hit summer single “She’s Kinda Hot” followed by “Hey Everbody!” Both songs definitely garnering a greater reaction, mainly fueled by the excitement of the band themselves feeding off into the audience. Lead singer Luke Hemmings even came down the very narrow catwalk that had been set up to get closer to the fans during the guitar solo in “She’s Kinda Hot”. The band then had a few farewells with Carson Daly and the fans before exiting the stage.
Physically and emotionally exhausted from waiting and seeing what can only be called the world’s most popular new band, my friend and I grabbed Starbucks and went over the shots I had gotten. Overall for my first press experience, it was a whirlwind. From an argument between a patronizing photographer to precious fans shedding tears over the boys, it was an eventful day on the plaza. 5 Seconds of Summer have grown up, both musically and in maturity, and its safe to say the fans that have stuck with them after their musical and touring separation from boy-band “One Direction” have as well.
5 Seconds of Summer’s sophomore album “Sounds Good Feels Good” is out now.