Live Review: WSTR, Best Years, Homebound and Larkhill – Upstairs at The Garage, London – 10/09/2015

imagePop punk: still an institution and still a brimming hotspot for new talent. Tonight North London plays host to a co-headlining show for two of current frontrunners when it comes to upcoming 3 chord bangers and emotional outpouring; Lancashire’s own WSTR and Best Years. With both releasing new music in the last few weeks, there is plenty to celebrate, scrutinise and judge to see if they have what it takes to run with the big boys in the months to come.

Larkhill kick proceedings off with their brand of stoner-based emo punk. The awkward nature of the band suit their songs about lost loves and anxious encounters perfectly and provide a suitable change from what the rest of the evening has to offer. (3/5)

Homebound follow and do so with a spring in their step and a lump in their throat. Borrowing from this year’s EP ‘Permanence’, the band step things up emotionally and deliver a solid display of emotive pop punk. A few frustrating technical issues may put a dampener on a set filled with honesty and integrity, but there is still a lot to like about these plucky Surrey lads. (3/5)

Best Years are much snottier than the rest of the bill and use that cockiness to their advantage within their live show. New songs ‘Built To Last’ and ‘Back Then’ prove already big hitters with the crowd while a cover of Good Charlotte’s ‘The Anthem’ has every voice in the room screaming towards the stage. As ‘The Last Year Got The Best Of Me’ sees out a dominant set, Best Years put in their claim for one of the strongest new offerings that UK pop punk has hiding in its streets. (4/5)

WSTR are still riding the wave created by the hype that is following their every move currently, and even more so tonight thanks to their ‘SKRWD’ EP finally being out in the open. The band have a lot to live up to following that performance from Best Years, but still put their all in and do everything they can to not be outshone. Leading with a bouncing ‘Southview’ as inflatable balls bounce around the room, the band are clearly in high spirits and are wanting to make their time on stage as fun for the crowd as noticeably as it is for them.‘Ain’t Great’ and ‘Fairweather’ receive reasonable sing-alongs in return for the rambunctiously positive delivery, while a cover of Limp Bizkit’s ‘Break Stuff’ is bizarre but cheeky enough to work.

There is plenty to love about WSTR and it is clear why they are the current golden boys in the underground pop punk scene, yet there are still a few cracks to fill in with the live show. The band can be forgiven as they are still relatively new to the game and experience is the best cure for naivety, but as the relatable angst of ‘Graveyard Shift’ sees out their half hour on stage, the hype following these Scousers is proven to be fully justified and shows there is a bright and bold future ahead. Get involved now before they take over the world. (4/5)

4/5

Words by Jack Rogers (@JackMRog)

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