If there is one thing I’ve learned over all these years of being a music lover, it’s to never pass up an opportunity to see a good show because there is never a guarantee that you’ll have the opportunity again. That being said, when I found out that Authority Zero was going to be coming to Pensacola on a co-headlining tour with reggae pop-punkers, Ballyhoo!, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t miss it, even if I had already seen Authority Zero twice before. As the saying goes, the third time was definitely a charm.
I walk into Pensacola’s Vinyl Music Hall, at about 7:30 and I see a good mix of people ranging from punks with patches and Casualties shirts to surfer types with dreads and tank tops on. The first band, a reggae group called Heritage, starts a couple of minutes after I arrive. They put on a good set and after about 30 minutes the next band is up. I immediately recognize the guitar player in this band. If I’m not mistaken it’s the tall guitar player from Lagwagon. I check Wikipedia and sure enough it’s him! Not only that, but the lead singer of the band is the old bassist for The Ataris! I decide to post up in the front row and give these guys my full attention. They’re called Versus The World and play a brand of punk that immediately conjures up thoughts of a mixture between One Man Army and Bayside. Before long, their set is up and Ballyhoo! is up on stage doing their thing. They put on an excellent show and get the crowd hyped up for the final act of the night, Authority Zero.
It’s about 10 p.m. now and as the lights dim, music from what sounds to me like, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, plays over the sound system as Authority Zero run out on stage and pick up their instruments. They go straight into the first track, “No Other Place” off of their new album, The Tipping Point. It’s the classic surf-skate punk style that drew me to Authority Zero 12 years ago. A smile takes my face as I see a huge mosh pit open up right on cue with the first notes of the song. Tonight is going to be fun. Next up they take us back to 2010 for the bass-driven “Brick in the Wave” which is followed up by a song called “No Regrets” which to the best of my knowledge can only be found on their live album, Less Rhythm, More Booze. The extremely fast-paced, “Liberateducation,” gives everybody in the crowd a little shot of energy and the pit opens up even wider than before. Lead singer, Jason DeVore introduces the next song as “a song from our new album called, “Endless Roads.”
After playing 7 songs straight, DeVore stops to give shout outs to the opening bands: Heritage, Versus The World, and Ballyhoo!. After that it’s a throwback to 2002 with “Over Seasons” and a skank-pit goes into full swing. I get goose bumps and feel like I’m 16 years old all over again. If I hadn’t injured my elbow in the last mosh pit I was in, I definitely would have been in there skankin it up with everybody else. When they finish that song and go into “Revolution” from 2004’s, Andiamo, I can’t help myself and jump into the pit for a bit. After that, DeVore picks up his acoustic guitar and leads us into another new song called “Struggle” which is followed by another step back into 2004 with “Taking On The World.”
While the band takes a 5 second breather, a lady in the front row shouts out that she drove 8 hours to come to this show which led to a little interaction between her and the singer. It’s always cool when a band interacts so casually with their fan base. It reminds you that they’re no different than any of us. The opening guitar riff for “One More Minute” starts up after their conversation and my goose bumps are back and everybody in the room starts screaming. This is arguably their most known song and in fact, responsible for attracting me to them.
Soon after, another high-energy track called, “21st Century Breakout” from their new album follows and they end the night with a crowd sing-a-long for “Lift One Up,” also from The Tipping Point. The lyrics, “Tonight we’re living like the end of the world is finally happening/ Screaming until our voices are gone/ And then we’ll do it again/ This is a chance to make things right/ This is our chance to feel alive and shout it out” are perfect for the last song of the evening and I walk to my car with my ears ringing so loud, I’m not sure I’ll ever hear the same again.