6th Feb 2016 marked my trip to London’s O2 Forum in Kentish Town to see Neck Deep supported by Light Years, Creeper and State Champs (supposed to be ND/SC coheadline but it was all about Neck Deep…). This was my third time seeing the Wrexham lads and I can honestly say they have got better and better every time (first time was with All Time Low in Wembley in March 2015, second with BMTH in November), and the second I’d seen Creeper (though my first being a real fan!) and my first for the other 2.
Before this show, I hadn’t even noticed a fourth band were playing but I have to admit, they played a stunner. Always thanking us for getting there early and going against every pop punk rule by talking about how they love their home town Cleveland, they were very much in control of the crowd. Despite a couple of guitar issues mid-set, they warmed up the crowd well and they were definitely the right band for the opening slot.
Walking through the doors to this show, I would have said Creeper were one of my favourite bands and their new single Black Mass was the song I was most looking forward to hearing during the show, bar none. I’d seen them briefly before as they played the underground bar stage at Alexandra Palace for Warped UK last year but since then I had become pretty obsessed. As they walked out on stage, I had butterflies just waiting to see how awesome they would be and they didn’t disappoint. Tearing through VCR with their fiery punk attitude, the crowd were going crazy already and leading into Black Mass that energy didn’t drop off. Strong instructions came from vocalist Will Gould which inflicted the biggest circle pit the Forum has probably ever seen, and from a support act that’s not bad going at all. They then got started on cracking out The Callous Heart EP with The Honeymoon Suite and Allergies before a debut break for Gloom and back to finish with an emotional recital of Henley’s Ghost which really did strike a chord with the crowd, along with much swaying and singing along. Sadly it was then time to bid them farewell, and just to remind myself that I’d be missing their next London show (*cries*) but hopefully seeing them again soon as they get bigger and even better!
SC are a band I’ve admired for a long time as champions of modern pop punk. The genre has been growing out into post-hardcore, emo and various others, and core pop punk has been starting to be forgotten in recent years but State Champs and Neck Deep have been more or less single-handedly led the revival so obviously I was pretty happy to see them walk out in such good form and play a solid set. After the success of their latest record Around the World and Back, they’re very much seen as an up and coming band in the alternative scene, common features of Rock Sound magazine and Kerrang! too, though more rarely. Set opener Secrets got the singalong vibes going right from the off and following it up with old favourite Simple Existence was a good move. DiScanio stopped for a chat break then announced Perfect Score, much to the delight of the 5-man mob stood just in front of me… Rattling through it with ease, the response they got was insane and then came the best moment of the set: the huge drop in the beginning of All You Are Is History, which led to mild hysteria in the sea of bodies filling the floor. They then pushed through a few more before slowing it down for the end with All or Nothing and Elevated to finish in style.
— State Champs (@State_Champs) February 7, 2016
Setlist: Citizens of Earth, Losing Teeth, Gold Steps, Crushing Grief (No Remedy), Over and Over, Serpents, Kali Ma, Lime St., Growing Pains, Smooth Seas Don’t Make Good Sailors, What Did You Expect?, A Part of Me, Head To The Ground (Ben Solo Acoustic), December, Can’t Kick Up The Roots
The lights went down fashionably (10 minutes) late for the little intro that Neck Deep had prepared, before they came storming on for a wall-shaking rendition of Citizens of Earth – BEN DID THE F*** NECK DEEP MATE, THEY’RE S*** BIT!!! – and carrying on with few breaks to smash out Losing Teeth, Gold Steps and Crushing Grief.They then had a typical pop punk speech about how they’ve been a band for about 4 years and that they’re grateful to all of us for being there blah blah, then went on with Over and Over which frankly half the crowd didn’t know. They then came back to a LNOTGY run with Serpents, Kali Ma and Lime St. which were all fantastic as expected and had a huge crowd response with screaming fans and even a circle pit which was unexpected and led to Ben kicking out a couple of guys who started a fight as he told them “get out or I’ll knock you out” which gathered huge cheers from us all (though this bloke would’ve had him in a fight…). After that, more singalongs with Smooth Seas and What Did You Expect, followed by an emotional, flashlight-filled A Part Of Me with Creeper’s Hannah (see link in tweet below) before going off and taking a surprisingly long time before coming back on, but when we did see movement on stage again, it was only Ben which brought some confusion though that was quickly ended as he announced he’s be playing an acoustic of a “ditty [he] wrote a f*** of a long time ago” known as Head To The Ground, then the band came on again for the full-band version of December and Can’t Kick Up The Roots and finishing with a real bang then coming on for a dance party on stage with photographers and various band and crew members to our amusement.
— Neck Deep (@NeckDeepUK) February 7, 2016
Finally to round off the night, we went to try to meet Creeper as I’d tried to arrange on Twitter and I was pretty sad when we got sent out of the venue by security but thankfully Will was hanging around outside to meet us all so I went and had a decent chat with him and I went to take a photo but I couldn’t stop shivering/shaking (bit of both probably…) and he took it for me! He’s a lovely lovely guy and he knew who I was and told me he was looking forward to hearing my cover of Black Mass I’m currently writing/recording so I’m pretty happy about that!