Touring has proven less than smooth for State Champs of late; dates supporting blink-182 were cancelled last month due to Travis Barker’s health, and then they were also forced to pull their South American tour planned for November after problems with a promoter. No such bad luck has thankfully befallen the ‘Living Proof’ UK and EU tour and the New York pop-punks’ 17-date run that includes eight UK cities. With an impressive bill, this looked to be one of the country’s premier pop-punk tours this year, and Glasgow’s cavernous SWG3 kicked off the UK run.
If not quite a hometown band, Edinburgh’s Woes (3/5) had a rare opportunity to play to a fairly big audience of fellow Scots. Their performance was befitting of an opening act; plenty of energy but slightly ramshackle and unpolished. That raggedness suits the band formerly known as Yeah Detroit however, and the harmonies of David Jess and Sean Duddy gave ‘Winter Sun’ a fresh live angle. Jess’ vocals may have been altogether too quiet, but that mixing issue didn’t hinder the band’s tightness overall, and ‘Losing Time’ went down well with the early punters. The speedy brand of pop-punk Woes offer is similar to early State Champs, and was a welcome inclusion next to the headliners’ current style and that of the other three acts.
If there was a perfect time to earn new fans for Stand Atlantic,(4/5) this tour is it. Debut record ‘Skinny Dipping’ is set to be released imminently and a high-profile support slot coinciding with the album provides a perfect opportunity to build their fanbase. The tracks from last year’s ‘Sidewinder’ EP sounded great (‘Push’; ‘Coffee At Midnight’) but ‘Skinny Dipping’‘s title track was instantly recognisable as a winner: a chorus made for rooms like this and a backing track providing heft – Bonnie Fraser admitted it was their first time playing it live, but you wouldn’t know it. Fraser is an awkward, over-sized t-shirt sort of frontwoman, and is all the more likeable for it. The Australians have all the pieces in place to rapidly ascend the ladder and expect to see them headlining these tours in a couple of years.
Canada’s Seaway (3/5) make it three bands, three nations represented on the line-up, and the group fronted by Ryan Locke, make fairly regular appearances on these shores. A US co-headline run with Trophy Eyes directly follows this tour, and that daunting schedule, along with current record ‘Vacation’ nearing the end of its cycle, perhaps contributed to a fairly ordinary performance. ‘Best Mistake‘ remains a rollicking set-opener however, while ‘Something Wonderful’ has lost nothing of its strength as a yell-along favourite. ‘Vacation’ album track ’40 Over’ was a surprise inclusion and treat for any big fans; the customary ‘Slam‘ more of a formality and excuse to call for a mosh pit. Well-oiled and assured, Seaway sounded as reliable and as fun as ever, but also like a band itching for new stuff to play.
State Champs (4/5) find themselves at the other end of the album cycle, and June’s ‘Living Proof’, while not representing a stylistic overhaul, cemented their reputation as an act with a flair for the stage and big, explosive numbers. The tracks that fit that bill can be listed at length from the new record, and they were all present. ‘Criminal’ could only have been written with live performance in mind and brought the previously sedate crowd alive.
The calculating choruses of ‘Crystal Ball’ and ‘Mine is Gold‘ found their mark with ease, and ‘Dead and Gone’‘s gang vocal sections were gleefully participated in. To hear the singles in the live setting is to fully appreciate their precision; ‘Living Proof’ becomes an apt title, its material at its best in the flesh. Derek DiScanio appeared solo for the token acoustic ‘If I’m Lucky‘, but it almost unapologetically paled in the shadow of an incendiary ‘All You Are Is History’, featuring pyrotechnics.
In a set dominated by ‘Living Proof’ and predecessor ‘Around the World and Back’, ‘Easy Enough’ and ‘Simple Existence’ from ‘The Finer Things’ kept their place and remained well-received. ‘Elevated‘ and ‘Secrets’ predictably closed, but there was a sense that State Champs could have played every other song in their catalogue and they’d still be finding their mark at midnight. Pure pop-punk, delivered with conviction and heard the way it was meant to be heard.