Dancing to a different beat… that they wrote

AJR performs a memorable and creative show

Audrey Taylor, Staffer

For the first time in Tampa, AJR headlined a concert and it did not disappoint. The three brothers Adam, Jack and Ryan Met performed their new album titled “Neotheater”. With technical stage effects, false exits and honest conversations, it was a concert to remember. 

I do have to admit that this was my first concert, so I do not have much to compare it to, but I couldn’t imagine a better band to see. They were just as excited to be there as the audience was. Jack, the lead singer, opened the show by explaining how he still expected the audience to be cardboard cutouts instead of real people that wanted to hear their music. 

Before AJR began, Flora Cash opened for them. While the music was fine, the duet wasn’t what I was expecting to see open for AJR. The opening song was hard to understand and not very exciting or appealing. As the set continued the songs became more enjoyable but the interactions got weirdly sexual between the two performers, with them eventually kissing on stage. The last song they played, “You’re Somebody Else”, was one I recognized from the radio and the audience enjoyed. Overall, they weren’t a bad opener, but definitely not who I would imagine being paired with AJR. 

After the opening band, I was expecting a 30 minute wait between sets. I was in the pit, so my feet and back were aching, and I was a little bored after the let down in the opening act. All I had wanted was to get to sit in the audience instead of standing up in the pit, but once the show started, I was glad I was in the pit. The crowd was electric, and everyone was dancing and singing as loud as they could. I’ve never felt that rush of energy and it was an incredible experience.  

The lead singer Jack was a character. He danced around the stage, jumping and flailing his arms in every direction. He knew he looked crazy, but he didn’t care and his freedom was infectious. In the pit I was part of the crowd and could dance anyway I wanted without judgement. It was freeing.  

My favorite part of the show was just seeing the brothers have fun on stage. They danced, joked and shared memories from their past. The keyboardist Ryan shared a story of how in seventh grade he wore two different colored crocs to school. They also called out the audience members on their weird dancing and for the poster of Ryan’s face that someone brought. The band looked like they had fun performing and it spread to the audience as they joked along with them. 

To make the experience even better, they also used their background screen in creative ways. For most songs, they had it display an interesting and colorful picture but for one song they had it move to make it look like Jack was walking down the street as he sang. The use of the screen was creative and sometimes silly like them. Before the show they used it to write a message to try and trick the audience that they couldn’t perform, but of course came out anyway. 

They also used their technology to show how they wrote the song “Don’t Throw Out My Legos”. By starting with the sound of dropping their keys, they built an entire song and then performed it. I was excited to see their writing process and how they can turn an accidental sound into a whole song. 

This show was beyond what I was expecting. Getting to see a band I love perform and have fun while watching them is an experience I will never forget. If ever given the chance to see them live, AJR would not be a band to miss.