There seemed to be a competition going into Newcastle’s prime O2 Academy venue for State Champs, as below them another band is due to play the same night. The pop punk quintet are not deterred by that fact, of course. They managed to sell out their room and have a stellar line-up of equally fast paced bands to get the noise levels rising.
Bursting onto the stage first is Eastbourne’s Roam, a group of highly energetic lads who look to have had a little too much redbull before taking to the stage as they bounce around with reckless abandon. Their set is short, though satisfying, with lead vocalist Alex Adam spending most of his time with his head in the clouds – at least that is how it seems with how high he can get himself in the air. It’s exciting, receptive and a perfect warm-up for the main support.
Knuckle Puck are slightly milder, their feet are, for the most part, planted on the ground but that doesn’t mean they’re not interesting to watch. They draw people in with angst-driven, relatable lyrics that sink in to the mostly teenage crowd facing their own personal struggles. It’s what makes them most captivating.
Following a set change and a quick run to the bar for the older fans of the crowd, State Champs are finally ready to take to the stage. It’s their first headlining tour and follows their previous stint on the Pop Punk’s Not Dead Tour last fall – a mass helping in drawing in the sold out crowd they have. Their progression is impressive, though they play songs taken mostly from their last album ‘The Finer Things’, it’s clear to hear how much more solid and well rounded their sound is as they play two newly released tracks from their upcoming album ‘Secrets’ and ‘Losing Myself’. Though their energy doesn’t come from much jumping, it does come in the form of some fierce hairography as guitarist Tony Diaz and bassist Ryan Scott Graham display erratically throughout the set.
Their fun uptempo tracks have everyone in high spirits, with not a single person in the room standing still though Graham does feel the need to comment on how he wants more as he offers to the crowd ‘The past two shows I’ve taken my shirt off it’s gotten so hot, I wanna know if you guys can do the same.’ They’re certainly up to the challenge as the atmosphere becomes more uplifting and contagious as the set continues to go on. However, soon enough the dreaded encore appears, not that anyone falls for it of course, though it does leave a small twinge of sadness in the room as people realise they’re only set for one or two more songs. Closing is Elevated and it’s the band and the crowd’s last chance to prove they can be louder than whatever is going on downstairs – they do not disappoint. Their reception for the song is out of this world, with people finally braving throwing themselves over the crowd in an attempt to surf to the front. A few make it before the song and the set comes to an end, leaving fans eagerly awaiting their next UK appearance.