The evening of Friday, February 2nd was a frigid one in New York City. Fortunately that did not stop Pop Punk fans from braving the weather, as well as the crowds of Times Square, to join Neck Deep for a sold out concert at PlayStation Theater.
A little over a week into their massive tour of the U.S. in support of their 2017 album, The Peace and the Panic, the Welsh Pop Punk outfit has been making noise everywhere they go, and judging by the exuberance of the crowd that Friday night, fans could not wait to celebrate along with them. First, though, those in attendance at the nicest venue New York City has to offer were treated to explosive sets from opening acts Seaway, Creeper, and Speak Low if You Speak Love.
Those familiar with the genre know that a Pop Punk show cannot exist without at least four bands on the bill, and this tour was no exception. However, each of the opening acts had a little something different to offer. It was totally refreshing to be treated to several sets that each had their own character and sound as opposed to the usual ticket of interchangeable acts. The first of these unique acts to warm up the crowd was Michigan-based Speak Low if You Speak Love. Speak Low if You Speak Love is the acoustic-tinged solo project of Ryan Scott Graham, who also acts as the bassist of State Champs, another Pop Punk favorite. Simultaneously working on both State Champs and Speak Low if You Speak Love, Graham recently released Nearsighted, his second solo record, and seemed excited to share these new tracks with the growing crowd.
Graham brought along Drew Stoutenberg, Cody Badgley, and Wasim Bazzi to help bring Speak Low if You Speak Love’s somber tracks to life on stage. They kicked off their set with the opening track from Nearsighted, entitled “Enough,” following that up with another new track, “Ever Yours.” Right off the bat, the crowd was responding to the band’s sincerity and heartfelt music, and when the band went into “Eight Weeks,” an older track from 2015’s Everything but What You Needed, plenty of fans were happily singing along.
As the set wound to a close with “Contrasting Colors” and crowd-favorite “Knots,” Graham thanked the crowd and stated that it was “cool to be the Emo mellow squad” on the tour. Funny enough, Speak Low if You Speak Love was also the only American band on the tour.
Next to take the stage was Southampton, U.K. outfit Creeper, a band that are anything but “Emo” and “mellow.” Celebrating their 2017 album, Eternity, In your Arms, Creeper were prepared to bring the place down with their killer energy.
It is rare to see circle pits forming and crowd-surfers flying during an opening act, but Creeper’s raw freneticism could not be denied as they bounced across the stage during tracks like “Winona Forever” and “Hiding With Boys.” Channeling bands like AFI and My Chemical Romance, Vocalist Will Gould made good use out of the stage risers, engaging with the crowd and getting them sufficiently amped up. Guitarists Oliver Burdett and Ian Miles, Bassist Sean Scott, and Keyboardist Hannah Greenwood spun their way across the stage during “Suzanne” and “Astral Projection” while Drummer Dan Bratton kept the rhythm going. Oh, and to make them seem even cooler, the band were decked out in black and wearing matching denim vests emblazoned with the band’s logo.
The band finished out their set with “Misery,” a slow ballad that had everyone clapping and singing along as it built up into an explosive end. Creeper put on a set worthy of a headliner, and there is no doubt they will be on their way to super stardom soon enough. Be sure to check them out now so you can say you knew them when!
Creeper’s killer set certainly was hard to follow up, but Ontario, Canada-based Seaway had no problem bringing their own unique energy to the stage. Vocalist Ryan Locke, Bassist Adam Shoji, Guitarists Patrick Carleton and Andrew Eichinger, along with Drummer Ken Taylor took the stage with positive, colorful vibes to match their 2017 album, Vacation. The band kicked off their set with “Slam” and “Best Mistake,” two tracks off their 2015 record, Colour Blind, and their energy was immediately infectious. Crowd surfers were taking off from the get go, and it seemed as though nearly everyone in the crowd was singing along to new tracks “Scatter My Ashes Along the Coast or Don’t” and “Apartment.”
Seaway were all about positivity and creating a welcome environment for their fans, and they made sure to thank each band on the tour for being a part of this incredible lineup. The infectious Pop-Punk sounds of “Airhead” and “Shy Guys” kept that momentum going, and soon enough the crowd was dancing along. Like Creeper, the band made good use of the expansive stage and kept up their engagement with fans with “Car Seat Magazine,” “London,” and “Something Wonderful” before closing out their set with “Lula on the Beach.” Needless to say, after that eclectic mix of awesome sets, the crowd were ready and eager for Neck Deep to finally take the stage.
It is important to note that Neck Deep has come quite a long way since forming in Wales in 2012. The band have released a host of EPs and three full-length albums including, of course, The Peace and the Panic. In addition to charting in their native U.K., their latest album climbed all the way to the number 2 spot on the U.S. Rock and Indie charts just after the band were finishing another stint on Warped Tour and were about to embark on a huge tour as openers for Fall Out Boy. Now the band obviously has the following and devotion of fans all over as countless dates on this headlining tour are selling out.
Fans exploded into cheers as a massive white sheet went up to cover the stage as the band set up their equipment, but that was nothing compared to when the sheet finally dropped. The walls shook with excited screams when Vocalist Ben Barlow, Guitarists Matt West and Sam Bowden, Bassist Fil Thorpe-Evans, as well as Drummer Dani Washington burst onto the stage. It seemed as though everyone in the room was singing along to their opener, “Happy Judgement Day.”
Though the band has plenty of energy to keep fans engaged, the production values at this show took things up a notch with smoke effects, a huge drum riser, and ramps that the band would run up and slide down as they bowled through “Lime St.,” “Gold Steps,” and “Motion Sickness.” Everyone in the audience seemed to love the band’s new songs just as much as the old, and the crowd-surfers never stopped during “What Did You Expect?” and the infectious “Kali Ma.”
The band was joined by Seaway Drummer Ken Taylor on vocals for the breakdown on “Don’t Wait,” which is sung by Architects Vocalist Sam Carter on the recorded version. It wouldn’t be the first time the band brought a guest onto the stage, though, as they were joined by Tony Spark, AKA Saxl Rose, who played saxophone during “In Bloom,” a song that Barlow said was one of the most important and meaningful songs the band has written. Nearly everyone in the venue had their phones out to record the moment, and the positive energy during this song felt incredibly special to be a part of.
Keeping those vibes going, the band continued their set with “December,” dedicating the song to Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus. Then, Barlow slowed things down as he stood on stage alone with his acoustic guitar to sing one of the band’s first songs, “Head to the Ground,” which he dedicated to his girlfriend. Everyone in the room could be heard singing along through that and the touching “Wish You Were Here.” Soon enough though, Barlow was re-joined by the band to finish out the set with another classic, “A Part of Me,” joined by Creeper’s Hannah Greenwood on vocals.
Huge cheers followed the band as they left the stage, but, of course, they quickly returned for an exciting two song encore of “Can’t Kick Up the Roots” and bringing the night to a final close with “Where Do We Go When We Go.” The crowd went out into the freezing night chatting animatedly and already reminiscing about their favorite parts of the show.
It is exciting to see how this band has evolved from the cramped stages of Warped Tour, to opening for Fall Out Boy, to now headlining a sold out show with theatrical set design at a major New York City venue. Fans clearly respond to the band’s genuine lyrics and positive message, and it was great to see so many young music fans in the audience having the time of their lives. If you have the opportunity to catch The Peace and the Panic Tour as it finishes out the month of February, be sure to grab yourself a ticket before it sells out!