Live Review: State Champs, Knuckle Puck and Roam – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham – 24/09/2015

imageIt’s widespread knowledge that at pop punk is a big deal right now and has been for a few years now. So when you have three rising bands from the scene touring together, it’s a must-see for fans. Cue State Champs, Knuckle Puck and Roam. With the tour arriving in Nottingham tonight and reaching the finish line, it’s time for Already Heard to see if all three can make the step up to carry the pop punk flag.

First up is Eastbourne’s Roam. We’ll admit the quintet don’t reinvent the pop punk genre and firmly stay within its confines. Nevertheless they do have an abundance of energetic songs that are relentless in their pace and structure. However a newer song (‘Cabin Fever’) shows promises of a more varied structure. The growth of Roam is sure to continue once their debut full-length drops, let’s hope their musical range grows with it too. (3/5)

Having produced one of the genres best efforts of the year in ‘Copacetic,’ fans have been eager to see Knuckle Puck back on these shores and tonight it shows. Their brand of anthemic and cathartic pop punk instantly sends this sold-out crowd into a frenzy and doesn’t let up for the next 30 minutes. It’s clear that the Chicago group have built a connection with their growing fan base through songs about pessimism and heartache.

By the time they end with ‘Pretence’, a sea of bodies somewhat serve as a distraction yet it seems both the band and crowd are more than satisfied with tonight’s showing. (3.5/5)

Having shared the stage with a variety of bands over the past two years in venues both big and small, State Champs arrive on stage looking at home in a fairly intimate setting. It is no doubt their long spells on the road has paid off. Their overall presentation is tighter, Derek DiScanio rightly takes over as the confident frontman. His presence is engaging throughout whilst his band mates back him up with a range of urgent and boisterous songs that certainly love on the pop side of things.

For all the big hooks State Champs have, it’s clear the New Yorkers have a winning formula that, at times, becomes tiresome. But you forgive them when songs like ‘Remedy’ and ‘Easy Enough’ deliver big choruses that unite the room.

Whilst the forthcoming ‘Around The World and Back’ is only briefly previewed tonight, it’s clear these new songs have the aim of making State Champs a well-rounded pop-rock band. New cuts like ‘All You Are History’ and ‘Losing Myself’ have urgency yet are slightly slicker in their delivery.

As ‘Elevated’ brings the night to a close, we’re left walking away just about satisfied with we’ve seen. State Champs are quickly cementing their place in the middle ground between the mainstream and the underground. (3/5)

Even though it’s clear all three bands tonight have thriving fanbases, we’re left with the impression that they don’t have what it takes to be “leaders” of the pop punk scene. Nevertheless tonights show is an appreciative snapshot of the current status of the genre.

3/5

Words by Sean Reid (@SeanReid86)

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