The Academy Is leads a high-energy show at Northern Lights

The Academy Is caps a night of high-energy rock at Northern Lights.

CLIFTON PARK — Tuesday night’s show at Northern Lights, a four-band bill led by rising punk/pop stars The Academy Is . . ., was really an exercise in colliding worlds.

The Academy Is . . ., co-headliners We the Kings, and openers Hey Monday and Carolina Liar represent the next progression in punk rock’s continued mainstream acceptance, with songs so catchy and hook-laden that they wouldn’t sound out of place in the hands of a boy band or power pop group. Indeed, Carolina Liar’s lead singer and main songwriter, Chad Wolf, was discovered by Max Martin, the producer responsible for hits from the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears. And while the songs were undeniably slick and the teens were undeniably giddy and loud at Northern Lights, the four bands each proved that this style of music still pumps up disaffected youth in a big way.

Chicago’s The Academy Is . . . took the stage last and to the loudest applause. With three albums under its belt, the band was poised as the night’s elder statesmen, and didn’t disappoint, delivering huge slabs of distorted power-pop such as set opener “Summer Hair = Forever Young” and the bouncing “The Phrase That Pays.”

Lead vocalist William Beckett (who, along with We the Kings’ Travis Clark, provided the namesake for the tour, Bill and Trav’s Bogus Journey) worked his crowd with undeniable flair, swinging his microphone by the cable and jumping around the stage throughout the energetic set. He was the night’s undisputed star, and his solo acoustic rendition of “The Test” as an encore provided one of the evening’s high points.

The older songs in the set, such as “Black Mamba” and “Checkmarks,” were especially satisfying, showing the group’s harder-edged roots. But the new songs from this year’s “Fast Times at Barrington High” were what really got the audience going, especially the pop gems “About a Girl” and “His Girl Friday.”

The only complaint here was that subtler vocal and instrumental nuances tended to get a bit lost amid the chunky distorted guitars and pounding drums, but lower key numbers such as “Rumored Nights” helped to alleviate some of that.

Frenzied crowd

We the Kings took the stage right before The Academy Is . . ., whipping the already excited audience into a deeper frenzy with an engaging stage presence. The band looked for all the world like a metal group, with three of the four members waving their shaggy manes in time to such rave-ups as “Stay Young” and “The Quiet.” They were best on “August is Over,” a slower, less melodically obvious song that built to a frenzied climax, and the huge stadium pop of “Check Yes Juliet.

Hey Monday and Carolina Liar kicked things off beginning just before 7 p.m. with half-hour sets each. With Cassadee Pope on vocals, Hey Monday is an almost cookie-cutter copy of other female-fronted punk groups such as Paramore. However, Pope’s infectious energy and catchy singles “Homecoming” and “How You Love Me Now” won over the audience.

Carolina Liar was really Wolf’s show, so much so that he left the stage in rock star style while his band finished out set closer “I’m Not Over.” Out of all the bands to take the stage, Carolina Liar provided the most musical variance, with Wolf at times channeling Bono on such new wave inspired cuts as “Last Night” and “California Bound.”

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