Neck Deep @ O2 Academy, Glasgow

Kicking off this insane pop punk bill here at the O2 Academy in Glasgow, we had Light Years take to the stage. Light Years are a 4 piece pop punk outfit hailing from Cleveland, OH, USA (Pat Kennedy – Vocals, Andrew Foerst – Guitar, Tommy Englert – Bass and Kent Sliney – Drums) whom formed back in 2009. Since the band have been a working unit they have achieved quite a persona. Having the pleasure of playing with alongside bands like Neck Deep, State Champs, Four Year Strong, Knuckle Puck and The Story So Far – only to name a few.

Watching Light Years set I was pleasantly impressed by these guys. Definitely a traditional pop punk band with their sound an appearance, with high pitched controlled vocals, fast paced drum fills and patterns, clean tones and riffs from guitars and a catchy/jumpy bass line. Through the first couple of songs I sensed some nerves, there wasn’t much movement or much of a memorable presence. Although Pat was asking the crowd for a bit of movement, I was really thinking that we needed the same coming from the band – Y’know, we feed from the band and the band feeds from us. It took around few songs into their short set for Light Years to look like they were enjoying themselves and that the nerves had finally worn off. Despite having that little knock-back, they did have a good set, the crowd that showed up early to watch them looked like they had a good time, there were even the occasional crowd surfer in there! I did enjoy their sound and I would recommend this band to any pop punk fanatic out there to keep a listen out for them.

Next up to take to the stage were one of the UK’s most talked about band of the moment, Creeper. Creeper are a 6 piece punk rock outfit hailing from Southampton, UK (Will Gould – Vocals, Oliver Burdett – Guitar, Ian Miles – Guitar, Sean Scott – Bass, Hannah Greenwood – Keys and Dan Bratton – Drums) whom formed in 2014. Through the time of Creeper being a working unit they released their first EP “Creeper” in 2014 and then released their second EP “The Callous Heart” in 2015. They are now set to release their brand new EP “The Stranger” on the 19 Feb 2016. Creeper have toured with bands such as Funeral For A Friend, No Bragging Rights, The Computers, Max Raptor and Year Book.

I was pretty intrigued to see Creeper’s set just simply for the fact that there has been so much chat about them since dropping their first single “Black Mass” from their new EP “The Strangers”. Seconds from taking to the stage you could see that they were pumped for this show, they were very professional looking, they sounded well practised and most importantly they were using their small set time to it’s full use. They were very lively on stage, using the whole stage and sounded really good. They had the crowd going absolutely nuts, with a little bit encouragement from Will, “We’re at a fucking punk show right?! Let’s see a circle pit right now”, then voila… A circle pit appeared, crowd surfing was happening, pit glasses were being thrown… It was a little bit of carnage and being perfectly honest… I wasn’t expecting it to be that crazy in the slightest. Overall I really enjoyed Creepers set – I wasn’t a fan of them until after I seen them live and how they kick it. They sound good and have a unique appearance. A band to watch out for in the future I say!

State Champs took to the stage next. State Champs are a 5 piece pop punk outfit hailing from Albany, NY, USA (Derek DiScanio – Vocals, Tyler Szalkowski – Guitars, Ryan Scott Graham – Bass, Tony Diaz – Guitars and Evan Ambrosio – Drums) whom formed in 2010. From only being a working unit for the past 6 years State Champs have taken the pop punk scene by storm. In their working time they have self-released their Self Titled EP in 2010 and album “Apparently, I’m Nothing” in 2011. They went on to release their album,”Overslept” in 2012 and “The Acoustic Things” in 2014. State Champs haven’t long since dropped their brand new album “Around The World And Back” in October 2015. They have had the pleasure of playing at major festivals around the world and playing amongst some of the world’s biggest alternative scene bands, some of these bands are New Found Glory, Neck Deep, Real Friends, Knuckle Puck, Roam, The Wonder Years, Motion City Soundtrack, All Time Low, Issues and Tonight Alive, to name but a few.

 I was super pumped for State Champ’s set and I was expecting big things from them. Literally seconds from the band taking the stage the whole dynamic of the venue changed, it went from stoked to super stoked. The lights dimmed and State Champs took to the stage, the crowd were bouncing with excitement. State Champs kicked off their set with “Secrets”, my personal favourite song and a perfect kick start to their set. They sounded phenomenal, absolutely on-point! The sound levels were brilliant, their sound was superb – very clean and energetic, literally everything was falling into place for a good show. What I REALLY enjoyed about the bands set was how fucking lively they were. I love a good stage presence and State Champs had that absolutely nailed for me. Another great aspect for me was how beautifully the drums were EQ’d, that snare was an absolute dream! And Derek’s vocal power, My God! The Glasgow crowd were once again on top form, evidently thriving from this insane set… There were some of the craziest crowd surfers I have ever seen, they weren’t just surfing the crowd they were bouncing off the crowd – insane air! And some of the wildest mosh pits and circle pits I’ve seen in the O2 Academy, Glasgow. Standard and expected “Here we, here we, here we fucking go!” chants from the crowd – The venue was on fire! Hats off to the Glasgow crowd once again! And State Champs recognized this as too, “We love Glasgow! Glasgow is one of the best UK shows to play”. Stating the obvious though, right?! Overall, State Champs absolutely smashed it for me – 10/10 performance and I demand any pop punk fan to go see them live!

And finally, the band everyone had been waiting for… The pop punk band of the century and headliners Neck Deep. Firstly, I’m going to credit how smart the layout of their set was. Visuals from their album “Life’s Not Out To Get You” were all over the stage and their backdrop – It not only looked the part but it was very professional looking and visually pleasing. I really liked how they had the drum kit elevated in the background with different lights pointing in different directions of the kit, it was very artistic and it gave the appearance a very in-depth detail. Not only that, it gave everyone else a good platform for being able to move around a lot more.

When Neck Deep did take to the stage the whole venue were up on their feet and screaming at the top of their lungs, they kicked off their set with a siren introduction which had the crowd near enough passing out with excitement. Finally firing into their set with “Citizens Of Earth”, one of their more hard-hitting tracks from “Life’s Not Out To Get You”. They looked proper stoked to be there and were already having the times of their lives on that stage. With strobe lights, matching coloured lights to the backdrop and vertical smoke machines firing smoke up into the sky, with the insanely talented Neck Deep… This was the place to be! Watching Neck Deep preform I noticed how much they had matured as a band and that will definitely be down to experience and playing shows all over the globe.  I can’t slate how tight sounding they were, from the raspy guitar riffs and rhythms from Matt and Sam, Ben’s controlled vocal power, the heavy duty bass tones from Phil and the controlled drum patterns from Dani – Spectacular! I really appreciated how they mashed up their set list was with old and new material, it gave the older fans (including myself) something to remember and obviously everyone was  hyped to hear the new material for the first time! When they played “Gold Steps” everyone went wild, singing back at the top of their lungs to Neck Deep, a lot of bouncing up and down from the fans, crowd surfing left, right and centre… Even the crowd at the very back of the venue and up on the balcony were going crazy!

I don’t think Neck Deep could quite take in the atmosphere and vibes they were experiencing from the Glasgow crowd, every so often at the end of a song all you would hear is Ben saying “Holy shit, Glasgow”. With him saying that, unprompted, we had the Glasgow crowd chanting “Here we, here we, here we fucking go”, once again. Some of my personal favourite moments of Neck Deep’s show was when during “Kali Ma”, they had Light Year’s vocalist Pat Kennedy walk on stage towards the end of the song and sing into the microphone “doubt it”, and then casually walks off again – It was quite comical and it’s just something random you would expect at a pop punk show really. I also really enjoyed when they played “Serpents”, one of my favourite songs from the new record – It’s just a really raw emotion song. That’s probably why it’s a favourite of mine! Another highlight was when during “A Part Of Me”, Ben urged the crowd to get their lighters and phone lights out and what a beautiful scene that was, it was absolutely mind-blowing to experience and then we had guest vocals from Hannah Greenwood from Creeper, taking over Laura Whiteside’s place – This was absolutely magical to see and hear. Finishing off their set they had a 3 song encore. Kicking off the encore we had Ben return to the stage by himself and solo acoustically preform “Head To The Ground”, then as he finished the whole band returned to the stage and kicked up the party one last time.

This show was one of my highly, most anticipated dates of the year so far and wow, I was completely blown away. I’m even going to say that it was one of the best shows I have ever been to- 10/10. Such a good line up, all 4 bands were great and they all were good at what they do. It’s always a hit or a miss with support bands, you never know what to expect but everyone were fantastic and I’m so happy I got to experience this tour. State Champs and Neck Deep were absolutely at the top of their game and they are no-doubt in their prime right now… I definitely will be jumping at any opportunity given to go see these bands again. If anyone is thinking of going to see any of these bands then I strongly urge you to go do it, just buy a ticket, go!

Check out Light Years HERE

Check out Creeper HERE

Check out State Champs HERE

Check out Neck Deep HERE


Review by Carol Black


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