Neck Deep & State Champs Rattle Sold Out NYC Show 3-11-16 w/ Knuckle Puck & Like Pacific

Neck Deep & State Champs Rattle Sold Out NYC Show 3-11-16 w/ Knuckle Puck & Like Pacific

Those who think Pop Punk is dead, think again. The bands State Champs and Neck Deep teamed up for a World Tour recently as proof the genre is still alive and well. Presented by Alternative Press, since the co-headlining run was announced last December, it soon became one of the most anticipated tours of 2016. Heading to Australia and Europe first, The North American leg of the tour finally kicked off in Montréal, Quebec, Canada on February 10th before the run ended on March 13th in Clifton Park, New York. Teaming up with their friends in Like Pacific and Knuckle Puck, the entirety took all four bands around the world and back over the last few months, but one of the most anticipated nights came on Friday, March 11th, when the tour buses rolled into New York City to rock Webster Hall.

Kicking things off at the sold out show was Toronto, Canada natives Like Pacific. Making a name for themselves for over five years now, Like Pacific recently released their new album, Distant Like You Asked, on February 19th and, with it, take a ton of energy onto this tour.

From the minute Vocalist Jordan Black, Bassist Chris Thaung, Drummer Dillon Forret, and Guitarists Greg Hall and Luke Holmes hit the stage, the energy in Webster Hall was intense. Rattling the floor, Like Pacific started their set by playing “Worthless Case,” “Sigh of Relief,” and “Eviction.” With Black’s voice taking over the room, the crowd-surfers were up in the air, making their way to the stage, and during “Assisted Breathing,” the energy reached a new level. This was clearly due to the emotion Black displayed, which lit a fire under the crowd. Even spectators who had no idea who Like Pacific was started to sing the chorus of the song after the first go-around.

Moving on, Black asked the crowd if they were having fun, and they replied with a scream before the band kicked into “Clarity.” Before the last song of the night, entitled “Distant,” Black thanked the audience for bearing with him being under the weather, but judging by his energy, no one could tell. Inspiring everyone to put their phones in the air to take photos and video, it was an amazing showcase for Like Pacific.

Next up, hailing from Chicago, IL, was Knuckle Puck. Formed back in 2010, the band made up of Vocalist Joe Taylor, Drummer John Siorek, Bassist Ryan Rumchaks, along with Guitarists Kevin Maida and Nick Casasanto, Knuckle Punch spent years working hard touring. Then, after a list of EP releases, the band dropped their debut full-length album, Copacetic, in 2015 to extremely positive feedback. After touring in 2015 with The Maine on The American Candy Tour, Knuckle Puck are ready to continue to make waves as they joined up with Neck Deep and State Champs.

Pumping up the crowd immediately, they rocked out “Wall to Wall,” and the noise level was so elevated one could not even hear Taylor’s voice. This audience was devouring every second of it and Taylor fed off the energy as he went wild on the stage, flowing into “Disdain” as the crowd-surfers took off. Before playing their third song, “No Good,” Taylor asked if anyone in the crowd listened to their EP While I Stay Secluded, put out in 2014, to which the crowd went wild. After they played “Bedford Falls,” Taylor continued to converse with the audience, asking if they had seen Knuckle Puck before, and who was seeing them for the first time. Receiving a strong response to both, it further proved the continued growth of the band’s popularity.

Continuing on, Taylor spoke of their new album, Copacetic, as they went into “Swing,” provoking more crowd interaction. Not a word was missed, and again, the crowd-surfers did not stop. Before playing the next song, explaining “Gold Rush” was the second song they ever wrote, it was yet another crowd favorite as everyone sang along. Before playing their last two songs, “True Contrite” and “Pretense,” Taylor continued to be personable, stating how he loved the live show atmosphere and how it felt like a safe place for him growing up. The feeling was mutual for the New York crowd as everyone sang along and let loose for the finale. Knuckle Puck now head over to Australia in May with The Wonder Years, so look out Down Under.

On stage next were the co-headlining Welsh band everyone knows as Neck Deep. Making tremendous strides in four short years, Neck Deep has become one of the most talked about bands around as they won Kerrang! 2014 Best British Newcomer Award. Releasing their debut full-length album, Wishful Thinking, in 2014, they quickly followed up with Life’s Not out to Get You and spent time on Vans Warped Tour earlier that Summer. Now excited to return to North America in 2016 with State Champs, the adrenaline was pumping through Webster Hall awaiting their arrival on stage.

With Ben Barlow (vocals), Fil Thorpe-Evans (bass), Dani Washington (drums), Matt West (guitar), and newest member Sam Bowden (guitar), Neck Deep, as a unit, made their way to the platform with sirens flaring in the background as cheers poured down. Opening with “Citizens of Earth, they quickly jumped into “Losing Teeth,” inspiring a response that was deafening. Taken back by the response, Neck Deep played off this energy, and not one member of the band stood still. Thereafter, Barlow introduced the band to the greatest city in the world, and the crowd ate that up and cheered back. Playing on with “Gold Steps,” Barlow requested for fists in the air, and the audience complied, along with singing the chorus to the cut flawlessly.

Not taking many moments to rest, Barlow also admitted he was feeling a bit sick, but New York City was just the remedy he needed before they jolted into “All Hype, No Heart,” “Crushing Grief,” and “Over and Over.”  Every word of every song was sung, and this clearly pleased the band who could not help but smile. As Bowden and West switched sides of the stage and climbing on the grates, the set moved on with “Serpents.” Following up with“Kali Ma,” Barlow continued to dominate the stage and the breakdowns of the track took the crowd by storm as they kept the floor of the hall shaking. Keeping that going, Barlow called for a circle pit during the next song, and received it, before giving a shout out to all the bands on tour with them.

Changing the tempo a bit, “What Did You Expect?” came on and the crowd apparently shared in some of the heartbreak of the words as they shouted the words out-loud. It is the first song Barlow reportedly ever wrote, and the response from fans was quite overwhelming. Then, completing their set with “A Part of Me,” Barlow sang his usual part, and the crowd picked up where the vocals of Laura Whiteside would be on the track. Returning for an encore, Neck Deep offered “December” and “Can’t Kick Up the Roots,” which satisfied their followers to the enth-most degree.

Amazing from start to finish, Neck Deep showed the poise of a band ready to take things to the next level. Complemented by an extraordinary light show, between the blue, orange, red, yellow, and purple lights, there was a wonderful overall atmosphere. Neck Deep now return to tour around Europe, but North America hopes they are back very soon.

The final act of the night came with Albany, New York’s very own State Champs. Also come together around six years ago, State Champs quickly transcended into the international scene. A member of the Pure Noise Records family, the band’s 2013 debut full-length, The Finer Things, broke the U.S. Billboard 200, and 2015’s Around the World and Back shattered that feat with a spot at # 31. Opening for the likes of All Time Low in the Spring of last year and spending time opening for 5 Seconds of Summer in June of last year through Australia and New Zealand, this headlining run in 2016 is an exciting time for the band.

With Drummer Evan Ambrosio, Bassist Ryan Scott Graham, Guitarists Tony Diaz along with  Tyler Szalkowski, and last, but not least, Vocalist Derek Discanio, State Champs came out swinging and started the show off with “Eyes Closed.” An eye-opening beginning, they quickly went into fan-favorites “Secrets” and “Simple Existence” as the crowd went absolutely bonkers. Having the floor shaking so hard it felt as it the walls could very well cave in, State Champs kept their fans moving through the fitting song to dance to, “Perfect Score.” After “Nothing’s Wrong,” Discanio started to sing, “I’m a realist…” and many completely lost their mind because they knew it was “All You Are Is History.”

Giving everyone a moment to collective themselves, Discanio ask them how many people had been waiting for this tour date, to which a rumble of cheers followed. Following the band for years, it was both a humbling experience for fans and bands alike to see them sell out this show in NYC. With expression of joy on their faces, State Champs went into “Easy Enough,” which started off slow, but once the chorus kicked in, everyone had their arms bouncing up and down. At this point of the show, the band departed from the stage with only Discanio remaining alone, acoustic guitar strapped over his shoulder. Under the spotlight, he mellowed the mood out with “If I’m Lucky,” where many people had their phones up recording video of the moment.

Following the brief acoustic performance, the rest of the band rejoined and they went into older track “Critical,” and everyone knew all the words as a circle pit opened up. Praising the fans for their energy and enthusiasm, Discanio acknowledged those against the barricades who took their lumps all night from the storm of crowd-surfers and bodies slamming. A burden most did not mind handling to be close to the stage, the energy level remained elevated as another circle pit broke out for “Losing Myself.” Bravely, Discanio said, “I think we can get this pit to be the biggest one of the tour!” Determined to do so, the crowd fed into it and opened the pit to its most wide size all night long.

Closing out the main set, State Champs played “Remedy,” and the emotions were riding so high Discanio stopped singing at one point to just point the microphone over the crowd to let them take over. Leaving the stage, they were quickly summoned to return for an encore, and that launched with “All or Nothing.”With unison singing from Webster Hall following, concluding “Elevated,” balloons fell from the balcony as Discancio ran all over the stage, interacting with the crowd, giving them something to remember.

The 2016 World Tour sold out every single show except for the very first one. As far as the stop in New York City goes, it was an incredible night that fans of Pop Punk will hold dear for a long time. As State Champs set wound down, Discanio informed everyone that they would be back in town at least two more times before 2016 was over. That is fantastic news, so keep a look out for their return along with Neck Deep, Knuckle Puck, and Like Pacific.

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Courtney Coccia
[email protected]

When she is not at a concert behind the lens or enjoying the show, you can catch Courtney traveling the world, learning from her experiences. Going into her second year as a photographer, she specializes in lifestyle and concert photography. She also provides concert reviews for CrypticRock.

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