LIVE: Neck Deep / Knuckle Puck / Seaway / Trophy Eyes @ Electric Ballroom, London

By Ben Tipple

“Literally nobody thinks pop-punk is dead.” So says a Tweet responding to our, admittedly, overly enthusiastic declaration of the genre’s longevity. A tweet brought about by an exuberant crowd of youngsters singing their hearts out to a host of emerging and established talent who are propelling themselves towards pending superstardom, somewhat under the radar.

Names such as Neck Deep, Knuckle Puck and, to a lesser extent Seaway, have been circulating throughout the often contentious genre for some time. The full magnitude of their following – particularly that of Neck Deep – may however remain understated. Selling out the Electric Ballroom may have come as a surprise to those less au fait with the pop-punk scene.

If the survival power of genres is to be judged on the age of the turnout, and their presumed continued dedication to it, Neck Deep and co. are rivalling commercial contemporaries. All four bands are tugging at the heartstrings. There’s an obvious relatability emitting from the crowd, not just limited to the young.

Trophy Eyes prove to be the most distinctive act on tonight’s bill, moving away from the more typical pop-punk formula adopted by the remaining three bands. Their atypical gritty edge – deliberately more coarse than on record – provides a heavier opening than onlookers may expect. The Australian five-piece balance the dominating melody and rough punk, presenting a more serious edge. Perhaps not the most upbeat, it’s certainly the most intriguing.

There’s little seriousness in Canadian outfit Seaway’s performance. Their brand of straightforward melody driven pop-punk often struggles to break through the tried and tested formula, yet they are clearly adept at their art. Surprisingly, it’s the straightforward nature that renders Seaway the odd one out – surrounded by bands that, in some way, are adding their own matured spin.

Knuckle Puck follow with a grit that attempts to match that of Trophy Eyes, whilst relying on their upbeat melodies. The balance proves to be successful, yet doesn’t create quite the intrigue of that generated by tonight’s opening act. That said, the sheer excitement in the room as fans witness the self-confessed punk rock n’ rollers is undeniable. The immediate impact is sacrificed for carefully crafted pop-punk, with an added kick.

Neck Deep conclude proceedings, further cementing the notion that pop-punk has evolved. Far from relying on juvenile showmanship – although the appearance of a wresting belt in keeping with the tour’s theme does welcome a cracked smile – the Wrexham five-piece storm through a lively and energetic set, complete with the accomplished overtones that have cemented almost all of tonight’s bands. Closing on ‘Candour’, Neck Deep make a definitive statement – pop-punk can be sophisticated.

Pop-punk is both dead and alive – it just depends on how you like your pop-punk served. Tonight is a showcase for the new crop, and the new crop aren’t playing games.