LIVE: State Champs / Knuckle Puck / ROAM @ O2 Islington Academy, London

By Tamsyn Wilce

It’s pretty much the pop-punk tour we’ve been waiting most of the year for, and finally New York outfit State Champs have made their way to the UK for the first ever headline tour, something which seems a bit of an odd fact for a band about to drop their second album. Joining them on the road trip are emo-punks Knuckle Puck and Brit boys ROAM, and together they make up one of the most energetic and fun shows we’ve been to in a long while.

ROAM kick things off, and for a band who are used to stages somewhat smaller than the 700 capacity room of the O2 Islington, they do well in owning their place on the stage. In most cases, opening acts play to a half-full and disinterested crowd, but not these guys. From the outset the venue was packed to the rafters with eager pop-punk fans who are as much about supporting their home grown talent as they are here to fist-pump to the headline act. Having also just polished off their final components of their debut album, they give us an insight as to what we can expect, as well as smashing through tracks from EP’s ‘Viewpoint’ and ‘Head Down’. Looks like things are only going to get bigger and better for ROAM over the next few months, so keep those peepers peeled.

This is the third time this year we’ve welcomed the presence of Knuckle Puck onto our stages, having introduced themselves at the start of the year whilst on tour with Neck Deep and returning again for Slam Dunk Festival in the summer. This time however, there appears to be an even bigger spring in their step, presumably due to the release of debut album ‘Copacetic’. Whereas before we only caught a glimpse of their capabilities, now this band are standing strong and are absolutely killing it. Bringing an emo twist to the generic pop-punk sound, Knuckle Puck have grown in confidence since the album release and that plays across in their live performance. Making the most of their thirty minutes, the band are exceptionally tight and the enthusiastic crowd are screaming the words right back at them.

After the roaring success of debut album ‘The Finer Things’, State Champs catapulted to the top of the pop-punk generation and cemented themselves as one of the greatest bands the genre had seen since New Found Glory’s ‘Catalyst’. Now, with sophomore record ‘Around the World and Back’ about to drop, things are only heating up for the Albany outfit, and we’re not just talking about the temperature in the room at the O2 Islington.

Everyone was incredibly pumped for what lay ahead, and even though a technical issue (yo, sound guy, pay attention yeah?) meant that the opening line of ‘All You Are Is History’ was completely missed and thus not delivering the impact it’s capable of, when the track properly kicked in the entire crowd were off their feet and in each others faces.

Their set wasn’t anything substantial in length, with only 45 minutes to play with, but then they haven’t got all that much material to fill the time with anyway. However, those 45 minutes were a buzz of intense energy, crowd surfing, and sing-a-longs so loud they drowned out the band. The newer tracks, which included ‘Secrets’ and ‘Losing Myself’ were welcomed just as strongly as the almighty hits such as ‘Deadly Conversation’ and closer ‘Elevated’ and left us all sweaty and voice-less by the end.

With further touring on the agenda, the band really are going to be going around the world and back over the next year and they wholeheartedly deserve it. Whilst pop-punk is fighting it’s battles, these guys appear to be reigning true and there’s no doubt that when that album lands, shit will be lost.