The Evolution of a Fangirl
Words by Shelby Elizabeth
Words by Shelby Elizabeth
Last Friday, my favorite band, All Time Low, dropped a new song, music video and announced the long-time coming, year-old signing to record label Fueled By Ramen. I was ecstatic. I couldn’t help but tear up hearing lyrics that channeled the early days of All Time Low. “Dirty Laundry” felt like the result of an 11-year build up from the bridge of “Jasey Rae.”
Here was Alex Gaskarth laying himself out on the line so openly in a way I felt like I hadn’t heard in years. On top of that, the song included a guitar solo a la Jack Barakat that’s pretty new for All Time Low. It’s not the solo that’s new per se, but the caliber of musicianship and the sound of the solo that are much more reminiscent of ’80s rock than I thought it’d be. A couple of months back, after drinking a bit too much tequila and accidentally hitting Alex in the face, he told me that he’d definitely “channeled Queen on this record.” And the first single in, I can already tell the immense difference.
However, a few of my OG ATL-loving peers were not sharing the same sentiments. They’ve been wanting their 10 year So Wrong It’s Right tour — which, okay, who doesn’t? — and are sticking to it. The new song to them isn’t the best, but as someone who has been overwhelmed with learning about growth in music over the past two years, I told them they need to listen in a new lens.
Being an original ATL girl is a right. We practically wear badges of honor from the days of small venues, the boys having fake IDs and managing to get into a lot of stuff we should have never been near. We live for the meet-and-greet days where former tour manager Matt Flyzik stopped bothering to check half our names because even if we weren’t ACTUALLY on the list, he knew he was going to let us in anyway. A lot of us are the reason meet and greets even HAVE rules set. When we first started, the only real request was to not inappropriately touch the band members, which also didn’t really stick–with consent friends! We were all weird back then–because it gave us incentive to fuck with Flyzik.
Those days–that we hold in such high regard, in such reverence–are why so many people slowly stopped going. As All Time Low grew, so did we. A lot of my friends moved on to normal working lives, and paying for The Hustlers Club (ATL’s fan club), getting to shows, M&G and seeing everyone was no longer feasible. Like a kindergarten best friend, a lot of us grew apart from that OG ATL crowd, and as we were growing up, so was All Time Low.
Marriage, moving and new business ventures have capitalized in each of our boys’ lives, and they’ve changed because of it. They have more world experience, more life experience and so many stories to tell that it would be a shame to ask them to go back 10 years in time when right now is THEIR moment.
I look back on every All Time Low album that’s been released and realize that my life has flowed really interestingly with their album cycles. So Wrong It’s Right was released around the time I was figuring out just who I was as a person in high school. Nothing Personal came out at the height of my struggle with mental illness and while I was learning to just have fun again. Dirty Work came out right before I went into my freshman year of college and needed to experiment with absolutely everything to find out what I wanted. Don’t Panic came out during my sophomore year of college when I was losing friends, finding new ones and debating whether school was still for me. Future Hearts came out right after I graduated as I was making the transition to move to Los Angeles. Even now with the upcoming album —I really hope it’s called Young Renegades—I’m in a period of growth in my life, and “Dirty Laundry” has already resonated with it.
Each of these albums has represented a time in my life. Each song, I can tell my own story with. I can paint a picture of my adolescence filled with Gaskarth-penned metaphors and a lot of intense air drumming along to Rian Dawson’s incredible talent. I can go back over and over again in my car drives and relive those moments, but this new song tells me one very important thing: the past is just that–the past.
It’s the moment to let go, to move on and to seek something new and something beautiful. I learned a long time ago that each time All Time Low releases a new album or song, I am able to listen to it in a different lens because, like them, I am different now. I am a ridiculously proud OG ATL fangirl today as I’ve watched these four boys strive to create a community bigger than themselves over the past decade. I’ve been critical of each album in it’s time, but as soon as I listen to each in full, I fall in love again. Not because they can do no wrong, but because even the moments I don’t like show change and growth. Sometimes that change and growth is scary, other times it’s a path I choose not to follow, but it’s always there.
I listen through the eyes of a changed young woman each time my favorite band puts out an album. I don’t long for those days of waiting outside in freezing cold temperatures screaming “Don’t Trust Me” and dancing to keep warm. I long to laugh at the memories with all my friends. I long to live them out in concerts that I can now get legally drunk at. But mostly, I long to enjoy each song with the ferocious love that I so enjoyed SWIR with. So while I know that a ten year tour would be cool, I’m excited to see where ten years has brought All Time Low and what they’ll do with it.
I wouldn’t be me without each album, show and interaction with All Time Low. My music taste is synonymous with their name, and I woke up to so many notifications from people in every area of my life letting me know my favorite band did a thing, I realized I “wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Thank you All Time Low for a decade of memories, music and love.
Shelby is the founder of Girls Behind The Rock Show, a non-profit organization that aims to offer internships to both college-aged girls who want to be involved in music in any capacity, as well as girls who are willing to just do the hustle. You can learn more about the organization here and connect with them on Facebook.