From The Hollywood Palladium, Night 1 - Los Angeles, CA (June 22, 2022)
By Sheila Uria | 20 July, 2022
Watching 5 Seconds of Summer live is a lot like experiencing an alien abduction—unbelievable and otherworldly. The show started with a blinding light obscuring the stage from us, only to snap back into a cone-shaped white headlight hovering like a UFO over the four Aussies who seemed to appear out of thin air. The floors of the Hollywood Palladium in Downtown Los Angeles shook in response. Talk about making an entrance.
It had been a long night for most of us. Those who didn’t wait in line for at least 10 hours for Soundcheck (like yours truly), camped out for just as long or more outside; the line of dedicated fans curling around the venue attests to this. Our feet were throbbing from standing for so long, but the opening acts made it worthwhile.
First to take the stage, although only for the two Los Angeles shows, was the queen of introspection: little luna. Dressed in a cheerful and bright yellow suit ensemble reminiscent of the 1970s, the LA-based indie artist put on a hell of a show. You could not tell that it was her second performance ever. Seriously. As a long-time fan of hers, I might’ve screamed and cried during “shift & go.” Okay, I screamed and cried during all of her songs. Sue me. But how could I not? A true summer child at heart, she danced joyfully on stage and encouraged us to echo the bridge to her song “Roads” over and over. “I’ll be alright,” we all sang in unison. By the end of her set, no one could resist her charm.
Then came the cool and sultry Pale Waves. Made up of frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie, guitarist Hugo Silvani, drummer Ciara Doran, and bassist Charlie Wood, the indie rock band from Manchester, England has been and will continue to open for 5SOS’ Take My Hand tour for all of the North American dates. Seeing them perform felt a lot like being hypnotized by British vampires. No, I will not elaborate. Their electric performance with songs like “Change” and “She’s My Religion” (they said gay rights!) set the mood for the rest of the night. They are true rockstars.
Finally, the moment we had all been waiting for. The Australian pop rock band 5 Seconds of Summer took the stage, and it was as if we had all been dosed with adrenaline. Swollen feet, who? I don’t know her. Starting with the addictive opener "No Shame," the venue buzzed with life the entire 90-minute set stocked with a musical arsenal of pop punk, industrial rock, 80s synth pop, and new wave. They played oldies from their first EPs like "Disconnected" and "Beside You" and fan favorites "Ghost of You" and "Wildflower" from their last two albums. They also performed their newly released singles "Complete Mess," "Take My Hand," "Me, Myself, and I," and of course, the nostalgia-inducing "2011." They even graced us with their unreleased song "Easy For You to Say."
The show was a cohesive sonic and visual masterpiece. The band transitioned effortlessly from song to song, blending the edges of each into a liminal space of pure symphony. The light design was also exceptional—enhancing each tune by a threshold.
A strong collective unit and unique individual performers all throughout, their show was as refined and invigorating as ever. They might not be doing their iconic coordinated jumps anymore, but it is evident that the visual and somatic aspects of their musical performance has been thought about. These are the same teenage boys who used to practice in the dark to lock in their timing and make their playing instinctual; the same guys who would film their performances opening up for One Direction and watch the videos with the volume turned off to take notes on their stage presence. They have always cared about all aspects of their performance, and they just keep getting better and better.
A prime example is Luke Hemmings, lead singer and rhythm guitarist.
“I’m sweating so bad,” Hemmings complained about his frilly turtleneck paired with a gray suit. “A turtleneck was a bad idea. Looks good! Oh, I know it looks good, but it was a bad idea.”
He has come a long way from the nervous-gazed and lip-pierced 18-year-old he used to be. Nowadays, Hemmings dances confidently on stage, stepping up onto the platform and pointing his microphone at the audience while he punches the air with each beat and screams the lyrics along with the crowd. Not to forget his velvety vocals. The control, range, and tone makes his voice a timeless and ethereal entity of its own. As his bandmate Ashton Irwin once said, “Luke Hemmings is one of the best singers in pop since fucking forever.”
Calum Hood (bass, vocals, and keyboards) is more reserved on stage. He stands in place, swaying side to side and marking down the beat while sporting a permanent stank face. He bops his head and bends his knees, grooving to the song as he switches from bass to keyboards effortlessly. Often a silhouetted figure with his head tilted back while pulling on the thick bass strings, Hood personifies finesse. Bass-ically, the music comes across in his playing and body language alike.
His engagement with the audience is more subtle too. He smiles at funny signs and gives fans nods of acknowledgment, even laughing when they jokingly flip him off. He sits down, dangling his feet from the stage, and mouths the words along while he shakes his head and motions “come here” with his fingers encouraging fans to rally up. Hood, like his instrument of choice, is a steady presence—deep, vast, and innate.
“He wants to breathe you in like a vapor,” Hemmings introduced Michael Clifford, lead guitarist and vocalist, referencing the song “Vapor” off their sophomore album. Clifford laughed, hanging and shaking his head slightly in response.
You can feel his excitement and happiness just from being in the room radiate off him. He smiles when the fans’ screams spike at certain points, noticeably when he plays the first chord of “She Looks So Perfect.” He shreds his guitar riffs effortlessly and moves around as if in a dreamlike haze, leaving everyone in his wake in a meditative state.
Drummer Ashton Irwin is a “fuckin’ monster,” according to Hemmings. He drums with soul and body and something more that is unequivocally him. By the time they take a final bow, he is drenched in sweat. His facial expressions alone are enthralling enough—grunting, growling, and labored breathing.
Irwin gets his shining moment during the transition into “Red Desert,” an 80s synth-like interlude titled “Supernova.” While the other members momentarily step off stage, Irwin annihilates his drum solo. Soaked in a whirlpool of red light, he is painted onto a cosmic portrait.
Don’t be intimidated by his artistry and mastery though. He is truly a sweetheart. When it is his turn to speak, he thanks the crowd heartily and giggles at his best friends’ jokes, the sound worthy of being bottled up for safekeeping.
“Everybody look to your left,” Irwin instructed the audience. “Say to the person next to you: ‘I love you.’”
Every member gets a chance to speak to the crowd at some point during the night, and their speeches are drunk on gratitude and friendship. They each thank the crowd with such zeal you would think they had just started their career and were not one of the most famous bands in the world.
“If you didn’t know already, this band feels so fucking grateful to be here,” noted Hood during his speech.
They point out signs and joke with each other; their mutual admiration and love is obvious. “We’re hot. You’re hot. Luke’s hot,” Clifford joked.
The crowd went into an uproar when Clifford teasingly asked if there were any real 5SOS fans in the room.
“If this is anyone’s first 5SOS show, we fucking love you. Welcome to the family. And if it’s anyone’s second time or more…welcome back,” he said while strumming the beginning chords to the tear-jerker “Jet Black Heart.”
His voice was painfully gentle when he said next, “This is for anyone who ever felt like they couldn’t get it right.”
As the song progressed, Clifford commanded the crowd to sing louder. And louder. And louder. And right when you thought it could not get any louder, it did. The chorus ricocheted around the room: “I have a jet black heart / And there’s a hurricane underneath it / Trying to keep us apart / I write with a poison pen / But these chemicals moving between us / Are the reason to start again.”
For many 5SOS fans, the tune is a token of their survival, a manifestation of the bond between the band and the 5SOS Fam—specifically after the release of their second album Sounds Good Feels Good. With it came the creation of the New Broken Scene, a movement started by the band to spread positivity and unite with fans in their struggle with mental health, letting them know they were not alone.
This bond became evident by the end of the concert. The crowd moved as one as Hemmings told us to “Jump! Jump! Jump!” leading us into the last chorus of “Youngblood” and the dreaded end of the show. In an anticipated instance of joy, I felt the cells in my body vibrate with life. I wanted to take a snapshot of the moment and stay in it a little bit longer—enough times to burn it into my memory. As the end of this sublime performance approached, the image of Hemmings singing the chorus to “Best Years” earlier in the show popped into my head —“I’ll give you the best years.” I couldn’t help but think: yes, you have.