It’s incredible to see how huge pop punk is to music in 2016. Call me old-fashioned, but I can’t help but harken back to the days when pop punk was at its peak in sweaty basements and recreation centers across towns you’d never heard of before. Fast forward to now; the Alternative Press-sponsored world tour is 100% sold out in North America and it is strictly ruled by pop punk frontrunners Neck Deep and State Champs. With support from impressively fresh takes on the genre–Knuckle Puck and Like Pacific–the package is a grand one; and people are going insane over it.
Toronto, Ontario’s Like Pacific are the underdogs on this bill. Having just released their debut record this past month, the band are visually grateful that anyone is even there that early to catch their set. Their seven-song set proved that they’re going to be one of the most sought-after pop punk bands in the next couple of years. The band opened with “Worthless Case”, the lead single from their Pure Noise Records debut full-length Distant Like You Asked, to incredible responses. While a majority of the room weren’t too familiar with Like Pacific, they caught on incredibly quickly. After playing a few tracks from their self-titled EP, they closed with personal favorite “Distant”.
Knuckle Puck are one of those bands that gained momentum seemingly overnight. The Chicago quintet are one of only a few pop punk bands on Rise Records and they aren’t letting anyone forget it. Barreling through a set that expanded just about their entire discography (mostly EPs and splits), the band brought the entire crowd out of the woodwork and made sure they didn’t slow down. Sprinkled into their set were tracks from their impressive 2015 debut record Copacetic, including their ideal closer “Pretense”.
State Champs are one of the biggest pop punk bands in the nation right now, so you could imagine my surprise to see that they weren’t closing out the show. Being fresh off a tour with All Time Low and preparing for another alongside A Day To Remember kind of indicates how huge this band really is. They just recently released Around the World and Back on Pure Noise in 2015, which is easily a breakout record for the band. Kicking things off with album openers “Eyes Closed” and “Secrets”, the band utilized the entire stage and room to their advantage. Throughout, the band played tracks from 2013’s The Finer Things including “Simple Existence”, “Nothing’s Wrong”, and set closer “Elevated”.
Neck Deep are fresh off a very impressive stint on this past summer’s Vans Warped Tour and the release of their latest full-length record Life’s Not Out To Get You, a record that has helped pave the way for their incredible successes this year. The Welsh band opened things up with “Citizens of Earth” and “Losing Teeth”, both opening tracks from Life’s Not Out To Get You and their 2014 debut full-length Wishful Thinking, respectively. Both albums set the structure of their overall set and not a single attendee was letting up their energy for the entire thing. Closing their set with fan-favorite and live staple “A Part of Me”, Neck Deep showcased their abilities with gusto and fervor. The band held a three-track encore including “Head to the Ground”, “Can’t Kick Up the Roots”, and a rare full-band version of “December”.