LIVE: Neck Deep / State Champs / Creeper / Light Years @ The Forum, London

By Tamsyn Wilce

What happens when you mix three pop-punk bands, some goths and over 2,000 people in a room? One hell of a night at The Forum, London is what.

Kicking off the night, and bringing some Weezer-esque vibes to The Forum were Light Years. Perhaps playing the supporting act role a little too well, their half-hour slot was nothing particularly to write home about. They were good, yes, however enthusiasm from the band was small and they struggled to keep the attention of the early crowd.

Next up were the band of the moment, despite the slightly confusing choice to put them on a bill of three pop-punk bands, Creeper still come into their own on the large stage. Adorned in all black, with the infamous purple heart emblem across their backs, they are the true romantic goths of our generation. Frontman Will Gould masters the stage, never standing still for a second, whilst the energy and high spirits from the rest of the band add a dose of fun to their punk image. It’s not a secret that Creeper are heading towards big things and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they’re headlining The Forum in a year or so’s time.

This co-headline tour is one that pop-punk kids have been dreaming about since both Neck Deep and State Champs first hit the scene. Allowing their UK pals to take the headline slot on their home turf, State Champs refuse to allow their sub spot to effect their performance. Bouncing into single ‘Secrets’ you can feel the entire mood of the audience lift to an excitable level.

A strong setlist of tracks from both the recent ‘Around the World and Back’ as well as their almighty debut ‘The Finer Things’ compliments their actions on stage and from start to finish it’s a whirlwind of fast-paced fun, huge sing-a-longs and impeccable musicianship from the band. ‘Easy Enough’ in particular added some dramatics to their set, with a built up introduction, Derek Discanio’s vocals guided the crowd along with the rumblings of the cymbals, boasting an intensity we hadn’t seen before from the band. It’s obvious why State Champs have become as successful as they have, what with the skill to create two career-defining records as well consistently delivering impressive stage performances it’s hard to know where their music will take them next, but it’s sure to be astronomical. 

The past year has been a bit of a mixed bag for Neck Deep and they’ve become something of a love/hate band within the UK pop-punk scene, this doesn’t seem to be the case however for their (sold out) headline show in London. Blasting off with a triple-threat of ‘Losing Teeth’, ‘Gold Steps’ and ‘Crushing Grief’ it’s obvious that Neck Deep have taken everything in their stride and are continuing their rampage to be the biggest band in the UK. With CO2 cannons unleashing a fury not dissimilar of that from frontman Ben Barlow, they’ve made sure they go about this performance no holds barred.

Coming from someone who thoroughly enjoyed ‘Wishful Thinking’ but lost faith with the mediocre ‘Life’s Not Out To Get You’, it was quite surprising to enjoy Neck Deep’s set as much as I did. At the end of the day, Neck Deep have worked from the ground up, and are ambassadors of supporting local scenes, whilst also delivering hit after hit of punchy pop-punk anthems. No, Barlow’s vocals aren’t the strongest live but he gives a shit about what they do, as do the rest of the band, who seem completely in their element upon the sizeable stage.

Drawing everything together with ‘A Part of Me’ (complete with guest vocals from Creeper’s Hannah Greenwood), the heart-tugging ‘December’ and the buoyant ‘Can’t Kick Up The Roots’, Neck Deep leave the stage having successfully conquered yet another venue in their homeland. As they continue to explore the world,it would seem there is absolutely no stopping Neck Deep so we can but hope for Neck Deep to have a smoother sailing in 2016.