Neck Deep & State Champs – O2 Academy Glasgow, 2nd Feb 2016

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It’s been quite the year for the pop-punk heavyweights, with State Champs releasing their second album Around The World And Back fresh off support slots for huge tours with All Time Low and 5 Seconds Of Summer, and Neck Deep pulling massive crowds on Warped Tour as well as releasing their most successful album to date, Life’s Not Out To Get You. Tonight they bring their 2016 World Tour to Glasgow.

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Will Gould, Creeper

Opening the show was US quartet, Light Years. I only managed to catch the last song of their set but having never heard them before, I definitely liked what they were offering up. Next up was Southampton punks, Creeper. Another great sounding band with lots of energy, punchy choruses and very considered lyrics which demonstrate their own spin on the characteristic punk rock sound we know and love.

Then came the first of the two bands we were all there for, State Champs. The New York five-piece strolled on to the stage with bags of confidence and launched into “Secrets”, a favourite of mine off their album – it didn’t take long at all for the crowd to go absolutely mental! In fact, there were so many crowd surfers that we were ejected from the photo pit swiftly after their second song. Frontman Derek Discanio is a master at working the crowd, commanding they jump along with him, smiling the whole time and making full use of the space on the O2 Academy’s stage. It makes me wonder if you could make a call as to who is having more fun – him or the people in front of him?

Derek Discanio, State Champs

These guys have toured relentlessly in promotion of their latest release and this is reflected in both their sound and performance – they are polished but still have the rough edges you’d expect of a pop-punk band. Derek points out that the last time they were in Glasgow (only last year), they played King Tuts, a 300 cap venue which all of a sudden seems tiny in comparison to the 2000+ people they’re playing to now.

With a good mix of old and new, there was something in the set to please everyone who is a fan of the band..proven whenever the mic was turned their way in that every single word was screamed back at them. They finished up with another favourite, “Elevated”, which resulted in a circle pit, even more crowd surfers and lots of sweaty kids who were suitably warmed up for what was to come…

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Fil Thorpe-Evans, Neck Deep

To the trademark Scottish chant “Here we, here we…”, Neck Deep take to the stage. “Citizens of Earth” is the chosen opener and boy, did it do just that – circle pits from the get go! Ben Barlow explodes into the air like the flames on their stage decor and his energy is immediately absorbed by the crowd. And it’s not just him; bass guitarist Fil Thorpe-Evans and guitarists Matt West and Sam Bowden are up on their boxes giving every ounce they’ve got. Dani Washington sits behind the kit and impressively doesn’t even look to be breaking a sweat despite going for it with huge fills and playing with 4 sticks at one point!

Their older songs are met with the same appreciation from the crowd, if not a little bit more. The likes of “Losing Teeth”, “Crushing Grief” and “What Did You Expect?” were all met with lots of singing along and lots of crowd surfing – I swear I saw the same guy exit pit left at least 7 times, his Neck Deep t-shirt looking sweatier each time. Excellent.

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Ben Barlow, Neck Deep

We got a bit of a breather when Ben whipped out his acoustic guitar to perform “A Part Of Me”, the song which you could argue got them the exposure early on. It’s a perfect pop-punk ballad – lyrically sweet yet full of angst and super catchy. “Head To The Ground” followed this, still acoustic and a song which showcases Ben’s vocals really well. They ended on a high with “Can’t Kick Up The Roots”, the first single released from the album and left the O2 Academy buzzing. I reckon anyone who is still dubious of the genre would have been converted after this show.

It’s been quite the night for pop-punk.

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Photos by Lara Fullerton. Check out the full gallery here.

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