It’s not often you get to take a four day trip across multiple states to see some of your favorite bands with your best friend. Luckily, I was given the oppurtunity. In early February, State Champs and Neck Deep started their joint headlining tour across North America, and Renee (another writer for MOS) and I (Maureen!) attended three of the shows. Every show was incredible and brought a completely different feeling than the last. If you’d like to read a bit about our adventure and the kick-ass shows, as well as see some pictures that Renee took at the Cleveland date, read more below!
February 12th, 2016
The Agora Theater
February 13th, 2016
St. Andrews Hall
February 14th, 2016
Concord Music Hall
Maureen: Each show consisted of two openers, Like Pacific and Knuckle Puck, and then Neck Deep and State Champs. Since it was a joint headlining tour, Neck Deep and State Champs took turns ending the show each night. Each show we attended had such a unique feel and vibe. Cleveland was very high-energy and loud, while Detroit felt more intimate and like the crowd was more connected. No matter what the vibe was, every show was a banger and left us excited for the next.
Despite the snowy weather and long line ahead of us, we were stoked to finally be at our first show at The Agora Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio. It had sold out a week or two before the date and was set to be the biggest show of the tour, which made it even more exciting to be there. Like Pacific started out the night and definitely did not dissapoint. It was my frist time seeing them live and their energy was just incredible. The band’s interaction with the crowd was one of the coolest parts. Knuckle Puck was up next and they delivered that upbeat, angsty vibe they’re known for. They had the entire crowd feeling every emotion they portrayed through each song, and for sure got everyone hyped for Neck Deep, who was up next. The minute the colorful, UK five-piece hit the stage, the enitre venue went crazy. The energy this band brings is on a whole other level. The fast-paced music mixed with the bubbly and mischevious personalities of all the members makes for a great set. State Champs ended the night perfectly. The crowd was still just as hyped as they were at the beginning of the show. The boys of State Champs made sure to have everyone sing and dance along to every single song. As a final touch, balloons and confetti were dropped from the top balcony, and you bet your ass everyone went crazy. Who doesn’t get hyped over balloons and confetti?!
Next stop on our pop punk road trip was St Andrew’s Hall in Detroit, Michigan. This venue was much smaller and much more intimate than Cleveland. The night started out again with Like Pacific, delivering just as good a show as the night before. Knuckle Puck did the same, keeping the crowd tied in with their pull-on-your-heartstrings lyrics and classic pop-punk beats. State Champs was up third this night which gave a little bit of a change from the first night. Their set seemed a bit shorter, but was still just as amazing. State Champs does a great job of keeping the crowd energized and entertained with each song. Neck Deep ended the night, and I think it was a perfect choice. You could tell the crowd was most hyped up to see them. One thing I will always remember that night is this one kid who was standing by me. He was vigorously singing every song back to Neck Deep and pumping his fists and practically standing over the edge of the balcony. It’s really cool to see how emotional a band can make a person, and to be able to tell how much the band has effected them.
Our last stop, and my most favorite show of the trip, was at Concord Music Hall in Chicago, Illinois. I may be biased since Chicago is one of my favorite cities, but I can honestly say this was on a whole other level than Detroit and Cleveland. We unfortunately got there right as Like Pacific was ending due to some transportation problems, but you could feel how amped the crowd already was from their set. Knuckle Puck started up a couple minutes after we got there, and they delivered just as well as the past twonights. I can’t get over how much emotion they put into their music and performing. Neck Deep came on next, and this was the first time Renee and I actually stood in the crowd. Lemme tell you, it was so worth it. Being down on the floor was a completely different atmosphere. It’s hot, loud, crowded, and everything you would want from a concert. I felt so connected to the music and everyone around me. Last up was State Champs, and what a way to end our last show. This was the most enrgetic crowd we’d seen, and it fueled our energy right along with it. Even when frontman, Derek DiScanio, sang an acoustic song with just himself and a guitar, you could hear almost everyone in the room singing the lyrics back to him. The atmosphere of this show was amazing.
Going on this trip and to all these shows and meeting so many cool people was an experience I’ll never forget. All four bands gave their all at every show, and you could tell just how happy the fans and performing made them. One of the coolest parts was to see how happy the fans were. Whether it was them singing the band’s lyrics back to them, or seeing them jump around and smile as their favorite song came on, witnessing the joy that music and bands bring to people is one of the coolest things ever. Thank you to Like Pacific, Knuckle Puck, Neck Deep, and State Champs for making these few days some of the greatest experiences I’ll ever have. If you ever have the chance to see any of these guys, I completely, 100% recommend it.
Jumping over the cement barrier and into my first photo pit was one of the most exciting yet terrifying experiences of my life. One step down and I was on the floor inches away from the faces of Like Pacific, Knuckle Puck, Neck Deep, and State Champs. I was a little bit nervous but as soon as I got in the zone and realized that I was doing some awesome shit I perked up and did what I was there to do. Seeing someone, such as Ryan Scott Graham of State Champs, shredding on his bass right in front of me was a crazy feeling. These men were sweating onto my camera standing inches above me while thousands of loving fans were screaming their hearts out and enjoying what may have been one of the best nights of their lives.
Like Pacific started the night off wonderfully as they played for about half an hour, really exciting the crowd and getting everyone ready for the other three bands that were about to perform.
Knuckle Puck jumped on to the stage and rocked the shit out of the set they performed. Lead singer Joe Taylor obviously loves his job. Nothing but pure happiness and fun radiated from him as he sang to a loving crowd of a few thousand.
Neck Deep was by far one of the most upbeat and interesting acts that was up. Taking pictures was exhilarating, with Ben Barlow jumping and flailing about constantly. He kept the crowd excited and energetic throughout the entire set, even throughout the slower songs of the night. One song in particular I want to talk about is “December.” If you’ve listened to the studio version of this song before, you would know that it’s a really emotional, slower song. Neck Deep decided to perform it live with more of an upbeat flavor, sounding completely different than the studio version, but still FUCKING AWESOME. They also played another slow one, “A Part of Me,” and it turned out to also be a success in terms of getting the crowd excited and keeping them entertained. It was easily identifiable as a fan favorite with the crowd singing half of the song while Ben watched and patted his heart. Ben does anything but sit still during the concert, always moving about headbanging and two-stepping.
State Champs then wrapped up the show with their set. I really admired how lead singer Derek Discanio kept the crowd upbeat and informed during the entire show. He liked to let the crowd know what was coming up next and how far into the set we were. Switching back and forth from older to newer songs seemed to really please the crowd. State Champs did nothing short of their all, with sweat visibly dripping down their faces that could be seen from the upstairs mezzanine.
Just a side note, IT WAS FUCKING FREEZING, and fans still lined up for hundreds of feet along the theater and the street for multiple hours to see the bands perform. It was snowing and the wind was crazy. But, fans were patiently waiting in line, some of them in t-shirts and shorts in preparation for the pit that they were about to endure, whether it be moshing, crowd surfing, or just standing and jumping around.
What a fucking show, the lineup switched tonight to where Neck Deep ended up closing the show, and what a good decision that was. By now you’re probably aware that I am a slave for Neck Deep. Ben Barlow continued to headbang to the point of exhaustion, and the same went for Matthew West jumping around with his guitar. One of the three encore songs was an acoustic set that was performed by Ben Barlow alone with his guitar, a song called “Head to the Ground.” He joked about no one ever letting him go up alone to perform but tonight was the exception. The song was done beautifully, and so were the two other encores, “December” and “Can’t Kick Up the Roots.” “Can’t Kick Up the Roots” was a really good song to use for the end of the show. It got everyone really excited and kept everyone energetic, even if they had been jamming for the last 3 hours.
The show tonight at St. Andrews Hall in Detroit was jam packed. Not quite as big as Cleveland, but definitely hot and energetic. It was definitely one of the smaller venues, but that didn’t keep the noise from getting to some pretty high levels.
This show was yet another awesome memory in my repertoire. State Champs and Neck Deep switched back to where State Champs was closing the show. The venue was great, with a balcony above each side of the stage. The venue wasn’t cramped by any means, which was really nice. The room was very open and spacious, while still holding a good amount of fans to jam out. If someone wanted to take a break and breathe a little bit, they could easily access a multitude of open spaces in the back of the venue. The venue was also pretty warm, considering the fact that there was a blizzard happening right outside the doors.
Neck Deep rocked the fuck out of the venue, just as always. They kept the crowd excited and amped the entire show. I decided it would be awesome to jump in the pit for the last show that I was experiencing on this tour. What a good decision that was, physically jumping into the air and putting my fists up for “Kali Ma” and “Lime St.” I completely lost my breath from exhaustion multiple times throughout the show. As always, the crowd surfers were rowdy as fuck, giving the security guards catching them at the front a run for their money. Ben Barlow also talked a little bit about lovers on this snowy valentines day show. He kept remarking on the fact that there was a lot of love around the room and that everyone was going to make this a great night, regardless of if they had significant others or not.
State Champs closed out the show and played beautifully as usual, creating an atmosphere of happiness and Valentine’s “fuck you’s.”