Some may think the wave of pop punk we’ve seen in recent years would be an afterthought by now. Nevertheless, tonight’s bill shows that pop punk is still being defended as strong as ever with this being just one of many sold-out shows on this tour.
Representing the UK pop punk scene is Boston Manor. Fresh from finishing their debut full-length, tonight gives the North West group the opportunity to display their sentimental and upbeat style. They quickly lay down a foundation of angsty choruses that stay intact for the reminder of the night. Songs such as ‘Wolf’ and ‘Asleep at the Wheel’ are welcomed with a small number of dedicated fans via a circle pit and a wave of pointing fingers. Vocalist Henry Cox comes across as confident with bassist Dan Cunniff and drummer Jordan Pugh supplying a boisterous rhythm section. Throughout well-paced melodies resonate amongst the packed crowd, adding a fun energy to the atmosphere. Closing number ‘Trapped Nerve’ hints at a more edgier sound yet sees the five-piece retain a lively and melodic approach. Although they don’t leave a lasting impression, it’s clear Boston Manor continue to be on the rise. (3/5)
Having released one of the best pop punk records of the past 12 months in ‘Colourblind’, expectations for Canadian group Seaway are somewhat high. Thankfully a one-two punch of ‘Airhead’ and ‘Best Mistake’ soon reassure that the quintet can pull off their flourishing and infectious style in a live setting. ‘Stubborn Love’ pulls things back slightly yet is still as effective. ‘Best Friend’ and ‘Freak’ bring the energy back with radiant guitars and insatiable hooks on the menu. Second vocalist Patrick Clareton unfortunately doesn’t quite hold his own on ‘Goon’, nevertheless main vocalist Ryan Locke’s delivery is consistently strong. They round off things with a party jam in the form of ‘Slam’. As the room erupts in unison with the line of “everything is cool man!” It’s an overall solid showing from the Ontario group. For a pop punk group they tick all the right boxes; fun, energetic with the occasional hint of lyrical sentiment. (3.5/5)
Headliners Knuckle Puck are quickly making the UK their second home with this being their fourth visit in eighteen months, yet this is their first headline run. With a set full of fan favourites old and new, the Chicago band show they’re more than at home at the top of the bill. Songs such as ‘Disdain’, ‘No Good’ and ‘Bedford Falls’ are punchy with the Chicago band feeding off the crowd’s adrenaline.
Vocalist Joe Taylor is animated throughout as he exchanges back and forth with Nick Casasanto. Mid-set highlights come in the form of ‘True Contrite’ and the insipid ‘In Your Crosshairs’, whilst old cuts ‘Oak Street’ and ‘Gold Rush’ offer a reminder of how quick their catalogue has grown in just a matter of years.
The band’s hour-long set peaked with a closing hat trick of songs. From the solid ‘Evergreen’ to the thriving and anthemic ‘Pretense’ to the potent ‘Untitled’. Together they subtly show Knuckle Puck’s dynamic style yet firmly sits in the pop punk bubble. Additionally, the latter offers a sentimental yet unfortunately trimmed conclusion.
On the whole, like Seaway, Knuckle Puck provide a solid and consistent set of pop punk songs that bring this sold-out room together, whilst the intimate setting merely added to the flourishing atmosphere. (3.5/5)
If you wanted a near-perfect pop punk show in 2016, tonight’s bill would be a worthy example. With one home-grown band on the rise and two riding a wave of praised albums, it is clear the state of pop punk is in good health. For all its stylistic constrains, you can’t help but love hearing bold choruses being combined with crunching guitars and an upbeat and spirited rhythm section.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)