LIVE: PVMNTS / The Faim @ Night People, Manchester

By Gem Rogers

PVMNTS? Who are PVMNTS? With only one demo available on the usual streaming services and a relative dearth of information online, no one could be blamed for being surprised that the three-piece band from the States were heading out on a (sold out and upgraded) four date headlining tour of the UK ahead of their appearance at Slam Dunk Festival. The key to this seemingly impossible feat lies with guitarist and vocalist Tyler Posey – better known as the star of MTV’s ‘Teen Wolf’, and with numerous films under his belt, he also comes complete with five million Instagram followers. Quite the boost to a band’s early career…

Manchester’s, Night People, however, is far cry from Hollywood; a small, dark, slightly sweaty room underground, with buses constantly thundering by its city centre location (though if we’re honest, it’s still miles above the average gig venue cleanliness level inside). It’s only a two band affair tonight, with Australian band The Faim taking the support slot in front of an already busy room.

Drummer Sean Tighe kicks off the set with a thunderous introduction – if you thought you could miss the band’s arrival, you’d definitely be mistaken. The chorus of first song ‘My Heart Needs to Breathe’ cuts through the room with a stomping beat; so much energy radiates from the stage it’s impossible not to move along with the infectious rhythm, and Josh Raven’s pitch perfect vocals soar across an impressive range. Essentially a cross between a new puppy and an elastic band in human form, he draws plenty of attention through his pure enthusiasm on stage without overshadowing his bandmates. Tighe’s easy style on drums, complete with casual mid-song stick twirling, is captivating, whilst guitarist Michael Bono and keyboardist/bassist Stevie Beerkens (which, incidentally, is probably the best surname in pop punk history) provide outstanding harmonies throughout. A real highlight of the set is ‘Where the River Runs’, where Raven steps out onto the floor to deliver a hauntingly beautiful and intimate performance accompanied by Beerkens on keys.

The Faim finish in the same punchy, memorable style they started with single ‘Saints of the Sinners’ – Raven spends the majority of the song halfway up a pole in the centre of the room, to the delight of the surrounding crowd. The quality of their performance and phenomenal natural stage presence of all four musicians makes it hard to believe that this is a young band on their first tour, and judging by the queue at the merch desk later they’ve found themselves plenty of new fans.

It’s hard to know what to expect from headliner PVMNTS, and as they take to the stage there appear to be more phones in the air than there are people in the room. Nonplussed by this, they power into their first track and make one thing immediately clear – these guys are here to bring the Punk back into pop punk. Josey shares vocals with bassist Freddy Ramirez and they complement each other well with thrashing, unrelenting grit and attitude from the get-go.

Several songs, including ‘Hit The Ground’, have such strong echoes of ‘Take Off Your Pants and Jacket’ era Blink-182 that the room could easily have been transported back in time seventeen years for the show tonight, and it’s delivered with authenticity. When Ramirez speaks between songs, he has so much of the same lively, no-fucks-given attitude of the 90s pop punk crowd that it’s hard not to smile. The night isn’t without its personal moments, though; Posey introduces the superb ‘Standing on My Own Two Feet’ as a song about dealing with the death of his mother in 2014, talking honestly and emotively about his struggles.

Carefully placed throughout the set are a handful of covers for singalong value, including Taking Back Sunday’s ‘What’s It Feel Like to Be a Ghost?’ and Good Charlotte’s ‘Anthem’. It’s a good move for a band who are yet to release more than a solitary demo – it’s a real challenge to keep interest alive through new songs alone, and the covers are well executed. A later acoustic rendition of Blink-182’s ‘Going Away to College’ also lays bare their (admittedly reasonably obvious) inspirations.

As if to make up for the brief acoustic interlude, the full band return to stage with their most relentless, snare-heavy track so far and keep up the pace for the remainder of the set. Posey and Ramirez try their best to get a circle pit going before encore song ‘Jumping Stairsets’, but it’s a tough crowd – they’re enthusiastic enough, yet with many seeming to be there primarily for the attraction of The Famous Guy, there’s not much of the usual raucous energy you might expect at this sort of gig.

Tonight’s show felt a little more like a co-headliner without support acts, but it’s impossible to complain about paying the princely sum of £8 for two such strong bands – and in a genre that’s had an increasing tendency to lean toward saccharine over the last ten years, it’s deeply satisfying to hear the return of the raw 90s pop punk sound in PVMNTS. They’ve put on an impressive and entertaining show for the people of Manchester; once they’re able to release more material (an EP is coming soon), there’ll be no stopping them. Keep an eye on PVMNTS, pop punk fans – you’re going to like this.