Boys Like Girls with State Champs, The Summer Set, Lølø, and Every Avenue
Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom
October 19th, 2023
In perhaps one of the most unexpected revivals the emo scene has witnessed yet, neon pop punk era four piece Boys Like Girls are back on tour and releasing new music after more than a decade in the dark. Nostalgic is an understatement – The band’s debut self-titled album containing some of the band’s biggest hits, “Thunder,” “The Great Escape,” and “Five Minutes to Midnight” holds no less power than it did when released in 2006. And this fall, when setting out on the Speaking Our Language Tour, they summoned support from many other bands in the same arena to reconnect and celebrate the power force that was early 2000s pop punk.
While support rotated on different legs of this tour, Chicago’s show was opened up by State Champs, The Summer Set, Lølø, and Every Avenue. Other dates were played by acts like 3oh!3, The Ready Set, and Four Year strong. Reminiscent of the era, the five band bill on Thursday night at Aragon kicked off early and ended late while fans trickled in to pack a nearly sold out room by the time Boys Like Girls took the stage.
They did so close to 10:00, kicking off the set with their 2009 radio hit and album title track, “Love Drunk” then right into “Five Minutes to Midnight.” As a fan very young and very invested in the music scene at the time that the band was touring on their first album, seeing them walk out onstage in the year 2023 was absolutely surreal – And the crowd’s enthusiasm showed that we all shared the sentiment.
Throughout their hour and forty minute set, Boys Like Girls played every early hit with their new tracks sprinkled in between the old. The band was as captivating as they were polished. Despite some technical difficulties (Or paranormal disturbances? You decide!) that caused frontman Martin Johnson’s microphone to malfunction, the band sounded incredibly well rehearsed and did their older songs enormous justice. Johnson lamented the technical difficulties, sharing that they’d even smudged their stage setup before going on to avoid any paranormal disturbances — Aragon Ballroom is quite old and rumored to be haunted.
While they were performing that night in Chicago, their comeback record Sunday at Foxwoods officially dropped worldwide. The gratitude they expressed for their warm welcome back and the openness to hear their new works was quite wholesome. It truly felt like a special night to be able to share together and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this tour for anything.