The Alternative Press™ 2016 World Tour Review

Paradise Rock Club is a fantastic venue to go see a rock show; it’s not overcrowded, there are

bars to get your drink on (21+), they have plenty of water to keep the die-hard fans hydrated and

it’s small enough that they can actually run air conditioning and it will make a difference in the

middle of a sweat-riddled crowd. Definitely go see a show there if you’re interested in the scene;

it’s a perfect middle ground between a local basement show and an arena show like those at the

TD Garden.

The night started off with Like Pacific, a 5-member band out of Montreal excited to show off

their sound with the likes of State Champs, both of which are signed under Pure Noise Records.

One can definitely hear the angst-filled lyrics with Jordan Black’s rough-around-the-edges

vocals that the pop punk genre thrives on. Halfway through the set multiple people were saying

“Wow! They’re actually really good! I might go buy their album or some merch.” For an opening

act, it’s usually very difficult to grab the crowd’s attention, let alone convince them to go and

support the music. You can definitely count on Boston’s pop-punk community to come with full-

fledged support the next time these Montreal guys come to town.

Next up came Knuckle Puck from Chicago, who received a phenomenal amount of support for

being considered an “opening act.” When their vocalist, Joe Taylor, asked how many people had

seen them before, he probably wasn’t expecting about 80% of the room to shoot their hands up in

response. After multiple EP releases and even a track on the popular “Punk Goes Pop”

collection, they released their first full-length album “Copacetic” in July 2015 and they were

more than excited to share songs off of that album. During their song “Swing,” one could sense

the way the band feels about their music when they’re able to sway along with their own

melodies. Sometimes pop punk acts can be really in your face, but then there are bands like

Knuckle Puck who decide to switch things up a bit, take a step back from the intensity of the

genre, and appreciate their own music onstage.

When the house lights went dark and John Cena’s intro music started playing. Some were

confused but most of the crowd erupted into applause: State Champs were about to hit the stage.

Before they came on some fans were saying they were confused why State Champs weren’t

closing the night because apparently they had done so the night before in their New York City

show. This being the closing leg of the North American portion of their world tour with Neck

Deep, they showed no sign of slowing down or being tired. Vocalist Derek Discanio had

mentioned near the end of their set that apparently the entire tour had been struck by illness at

one point or another, but at this point in the tour mostly everyone had recovered to their full

potential. Great timing too, since the night after would be the final stop of the world tour on their

home turf of Albany, New York. State Champs used this tour to perform most of the songs from

their sophomore album, “Around the World and Back,” while still keeping most of their hits

from their debut album, “The Finer Things,” in the set. That subtle blend of their new and old

music definitely resonated with fans creating energy that spread throughout the crowd during the

entire set; something most bands only notice towards the end of their sets. Most headliners take a

moment during their set to thank the fans for their appreciation and mention how they wouldn’t

be where they are in their career without the support of all their fans. Derek followed suit in this

trend by thanking all the fans who showed up to the sold out show and “thanks for making 5

dreams come true on stage tonight” right before playing their biggest hit off their acoustic album,

“The Acoustic Things.” He explained that he wrote the song, “If I’m Lucky” in his room when

he was 15, about 8 years ago, and that it was the first song he’s ever written. One of the greatest

things about this song can only be experienced live, since on the album it’s fully acoustic but

when you see it live it transforms halfway through it from being a solo act with Derek and his

guitar to a full band performance. The beautiful transformation of that song has become a

hallmark of a State Champs show and I don’t expect them to stray from that performance any

time soon.

Neck Deep, a bunch of guys from Wales who, at first glance, wouldn’t seem to be very cohesive

at all. However, once they start playing their tunes, jumping in unison, and even having both

guitarists play with their backs to each other, anyone can see that these guys have such strong

chemistry on stage. While their dynamic and cohesive stage presence was the first thing I noticed

about these guys, the second would definitely have to be their accents. Just by hearing their

songs alone, you can’t really tell that they’re from the UK, but once Ben Barlow started speaking

in between songs about how he loves coming to the states (especially Boston, because he says he

and the guys have been playing a lot of Fallout 4) the accent really did come out and was quite

refreshing to hear. Nowadays, it’s commonplace for the band that is ending the night to “leave”

the stage and talk about how they’re going to play their “last song” and then immediately come

back for an encore of their most popular songs. Whether it’s an ego boost, a shot at some

publicity, a stunt to get some of the non-hardcore fans to leave, or maybe it’s just become a

universal tradition; whatever the reason, it happens at almost every show. Neck Deep decided to

spit in the face of tradition a little bit. When Barlow was talking about how they’re going to play

one more song, he would obnoxiously wink, repeat that it would be their last song, and then wink

again, eliciting numerous cheers from the crowd. When they came back for their encore, Barlow

explained that the next song was one very dear to his heart, one that he wrote in his bedroom

about 4 years ago, and now for some reason he’s playing it in a sold out venue for a bunch of

people in Boston, Massachusetts. They then went on to perform a full band version of their

(normally acoustic) song “December” off of their newly released album, “Life’s Not Out To Get

You” and it was absolutely incredible. Just as State Champs had done right before them, they

kept a steady mix of songs from their newest album and from their older releases, but the

difference and growth between their discography was much more pronounced. This album, along

with State Champs’ “Around the World and Back” are easily the two best pop punk albums of

2015. Before ending the show, Barlow takes a few minutes and mentions how people always ask

him about what Neck Deep’s goal is every night on stage. He goes on to say that Neck Deep’s

message is one of positivity; where most pop punk bands talk about angst and negativity and the

classic “wanting to get out of your hometown,” Neck Deep want to promote the message of

having a positive outlook on life and treating others with respect, and to quote their song “Gold

Steps”: “what you give is what you get / life’s not out to get you.”

– Dan Figueira