NEPA Scene Staff

Alien Ant Farm rocks Ritz Theater in Scranton with Don’t Panic on July 19

Alien Ant Farm rocks Ritz Theater in Scranton with Don’t Panic on July 19
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From a press release:

It was announced today that Southern California alternative rockers Alien Ant Farm, best known for their cover of the Michael Jackson hit “Smooth Criminal” and their own single “Movies” from the multi-platinum album “Anthology,” will perform at The Ritz Theater in downtown Scranton on Friday, July 19 as part of their 2024 Mantras Tour.

Stroudsburg pop punk band Don’t Panic will open the 18+ show, with more local support TBA.

Tickets, which are $25-$30, go on sale this Friday, April 12 via Eventbrite.

Since the formation of Alien Ant Farm in 1995, the quartet has enjoyed worldwide success. Over the course of their five studio albums (soon to be six), they’ve had cumulative sales surpass five million units, a Grammy nomination, and four Top 10 singles. They built a massive following on the road early in their career via high profile 2001 runs with Linkin Park, Papa Roach, Vans Warped Tour, and as the headliner on an MTV-presented fall tour.

In 2002, fame spread across the world, bringing Alien Ant Farm to the major European festivals, Australia’s Big Day Out, and a headlining run in Japan. The following year, they returned to Europe with Metallica and, to this day, the band has steadily delivered audiences in territories across the globe.

From the beginning, the clever humor of vocalist Dryden Mitchell and guitarist Terry Corso has delivered visual imagery that made the band vanguards in the realm of music video. Their singles received heavy rotation on MTV and MTV2, with “Smooth Criminal” voted the No. 2 video of 2001 on MTV’s countdown. They appeared on the channel’s “Celebrity Dismissed,” “MTV Cribbs,” and hosted “House of Style.” Alongside the massive exposure from cable, Alien Ant Farm were darlings of broadcast television, with multiple appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and support from Carson Daly, “Extra,” CNN, “Access Hollywood,” and “Mad TV,” among many more. With all the notoriety also came a 2001 Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance in 2001.

The early history of the band began when the name came from a daydream Corso had while employed at a day job. The concept revolves around the human species being cultivated by alien intelligence, and the colony forming much like it does in a traditional children’s toy. In 1999, Alien Ant Farm self-released their debut album “Greatest Hits,” which went on to win Best Independent Album at the Los Angeles Music Awards. In 2000, they signed to DreamWorks SKG and went on to release “Anthology.” The following year, their rock cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” became a massive hit overseas, rising to No. 1 in Australia and New Zealand and on the U.S. Modern Rock charts. It also rose to No. 3 in the U.K.

To set the record straight on the inspiration behind choosing this song among millions, Corso shared, “When we were a young local band in SoCal, we’d play a different cover song by a different artist every show we would do – wild, unexpected stuff and sometimes not even songs we were that into. Just whatever was going on around us on the radio or whatever fit in with our inside jokes at that minute – from Ileah to Gary Glitter to The Police, we had a lot of fun with it. One week, we had been throwing the idea of Michael Jackson’s ‘Smooth Criminal’ around the jam room. I believe someone had just watched ‘Moonwalker’ again. The very next show we played, we hadn’t learned the whole song yet but decided to klunk the main riff out for fun. The crowd loved it and went a little crazy. After that, we learned the entire song and super-charged it. The rest is pretty much history.”

To this day, the cover is a crowd pleaser, leading them to appear alongside The Jacksons, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Christina Aguilera, Jamie Foxx, Ne-Yo, and Cee Lo Green at “Michael Forever – The Tribute Concert” in Cardiff, Wales in 2011.

In 2003, the AAF entered the studio with Stone Temple Pilots’ Robert and Dean DeLeo and cut their third album, “Truant.” Unfortunately, they ran into unforeseen issues with the closure of their record label, offering an insurmountable obstacle to continue building on the group’s successes. Still under contract to Universal, Geffen greenlit the opportunity for the band to return to the studio. In 2005, they recorded with Jim Wirt, but that album was not released as scheduled, so they chose to share it with with fans via a bootlegged version, which has affectionately been renamed “3rd Draft” by the public.

Looking back on the adversity they went through, alongside the massive fame, Mitchell reflected, “This Alien Ant Farm ‘Wave’ is a bigger, longer wave than I could have hoped for. All these years later, we are still intact. From friends to foes to friends again, this band is something special, and nothing short of tight and explosive.”

The next year, their fourth studio album, “Up in the Attic” (“3rd Draft” with one new track), was issued, and for the next several years, the members went their separate ways, reconvening in 2009 for performances in Kansas City, the Sonisphere Festival in the U.K., and at Warped Tour in memory of Michael Jackson. They were back and began to rebuild a legacy in 2010. The band staged a very successful tour over the summer and fall, where they road-tested new material in front of live audiences.

“The first batch of these new songs are pretty to-the-point and pissed – angry, but not negative. That is possible in this nontangible musical and lyrical world. Unfortunately not possible in the real world, and that’s why I love music. I can get this all out without hurting anyone,” Mitchell noted.

Eventually, they released a fifth record, “Always and Forever,” in 2015, and their sixth, “Mantras,” is set to drop on April 26 via Megaforce Records.

As their career approached two decades, Dryden mused, “It’s hard to believe we have been doing this as long as we have. I don’t think any of us thought when we started out that our career would go onto do what it has, or that we would face some of the hurdles and losses that we have, but here we stand, ready to give our fans and the world another piece of Alien Ant Farm. We honestly have the best fans in the business – not only have they stuck with us through all of the personal ups and downs, but they have never given up on our music and how we create and deliver what we feel is real and pure. We are ready to head down this path again.”

Don’t Panic is a pop punk/rock ‘n’ roll band that formed in the Pocono Mountains in 2009. After some EP releases and a touring hiatus that lasted until 2019, the band debuted their first official full-length album, “See Through It All,” in 2020, which was followed up soon after by “Dark Horse” in 2021.

Their newest record, “Setting Up to Fail,” was released in 2023 and draws heavily from their collective influences like Bayside, Millencolin, Foo Fighters, No Use for a Name, White Reaper, and Lit. After very heavy touring schedule in 2022 and 2023 with Bowling for Soup, Less Than Jake, The Ataris, Alien Ant Farm, The Spill Canvas, Mest, and more, they’re ready once again for the open road and good times with a Miller Lite and friends because, in the end, that’s all that really matters to them.

Learn more about Don’t Panic in an interview with vocalist/guitarist Ted Felicetti on Episode 131 of the NEPA Scene Podcast: