Just five days after their 2013 tour mates One Direction played across town in Minneapolis, 5 Seconds of Summer rolled into Xcel Energy Center on Friday and further muddied the idea of what a boy-band concert looks like.
The Australian quartet — four 19- to 21-year-old lads with strategically tousled hair who actually hate to be called a boy band — rode the untucked shirt tails of their One Direction chums to achieve their own level of teenboppyer fame over the past two years. They drew about 13,000 fans Friday even with only one studio album.
Like 1D, 5SOS eschews the boy-band mold of matching outfits and slick dance moves. Instead, these boys wear ripped T-shirts and tight jeans and actually play instruments. So very rock ’n’ roll.
It almost looked as if Motley Crüe came to the X a few days early when 5SOS took the stage Friday, with drums rising up off the stage and guitars cranked to 11. All signs of bad-boyness, however, soon vanished amid the slick, sweet pop harmonies of opening tune “End Up Here” and the cutesy pop-punkiness of second song “Out of My Limit,” which sounded like Blink-182 rewriting Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69” (not a good thing, for those 5SOS fans too young to know those names).
Throughout the 90-minute set, the guys tried hard to sell themselves as tougher and rockier than they could ever hope their image to be. In their melodramatic song “Wrapped Around Your Finger,” the group’s most scruffy-headed, pierced member Michael Clifford unconvincingly clutched the microphone and sang in a tortured voice as if he were Trent Reznor of the American Apparel generation. Before the tritely heartache-y “Everything I Didn’t Say,” bassist Calum Hood played a moody solo over a gloomily lit thrust stage coming out of the main stage as if he were about to launch into “Aqualung.” Nope, not even close.
The band really got out of its comfort zone by covering Green Day’s “American Idiot,” turning a meaningful ode to mid-’00s U.S. politics into more of a tee-hee-hee brat-punk singalong — not the only time F-bombs were dropped into the show, either.
The band fared a lot better when it simply played it nice and cute. Catchy, cheeky ditties such as “Long Way Home” and “Kiss Me, Kiss Me” sparked the most giddy reactions from the crowd. The melodic rocker “Don’t Stop” sounded like it could have been in a John Hughes teen flick (a good thing, kids).
Hood led the night’s most rabid singalong with “Amnesia,” a nicely hormonal acoustic ballad, albeit one that sounded too much like Plain White T’s “Hey Delilah.”
Although much of their banter was canned and corny, the guys were pretty charming and occasionally funny in a Monkees sort of way. Best comment of the night came from singer/guitarist Luke Hemmings, who had clearly been coached on referring to his umpteenth U.S. tour stop as the Twin Cities.
“I liked how you guys paired up your cities,” he said. “That shows a lot of camaraderie.”
More so than One Direction, 5SOS also showed a lot of camaraderie, which was sweet to see — even if the guys themselves didn’t want to come off so sweetly.
Their Los Angeles-based teenage opening band Hey Violet also utilized guitars and drums and certainly didn’t fit the boy-band stereotype either, being three-quarters female. Even younger than 5SOS, Hey Violet's members were as enthusiastic as a junior high pep rally and impressively tight and rocky as musicians -- putting an admirable, inspiring spin on a crowd overwhelmingly made up of teen and preteen girls.
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658