It was Halloween night and the massive State Champs tour was hitting Birmingham. I had no idea what to expect because for one I had never seen State Champs live before, and two, I had never been to a show on Halloween before.
Unfortunately for me, I missed the first two bands on this tour, Woes and Stand Atlantic, although I have heard both band’s music and I would recommend them to any pop punk/pop rock fans. Thankfully I did make it in time for the main support band Seaway, and boy am I glad I did. They open with “Best Mistake”, a song which has everything you could want from a pop rock song, it’s fun, it’s catchy and has a great sing-along chorus. Almost the entire crowd is jumping and singing along for the entire set. Considering this is a set that includes new and old songs, from a support band, the entire crowd knowing every word was quite impressive. The crowd were also clearly not worried about losing energy before State Champs as there’s crowd surfers and a mosh pit for every single song. Every guitar, bass and drum note are spot on. The vocals were a bit hazy for the beginning of their set, presumably due to sound issues, but soon they too were just as spot on. They end their set with “Lula On the Beach”, which is very different to pretty much every other song heard during this night. It has a distinct Weezer/Motion City Soundtrack vibe. Quite frankly, it’s a song to have a dance to, that’s exactly what everyone does (including lead vocalist Ryan who dances like no one is watching). And on a completely unrelated note, the entire band were dressed as Sperm for Halloween, so that was interesting to watch.
Anyway, on to the main event. Monster Mash comes on the speakers and the lights turn the room red. Everyone is loving this, and honestly so am I. The band then come out all dressed in various Halloween attire and begin with song “Criminal”. This song, for those who don’t know, begins with two lines slowly sang over just guitar, before the lead vocalist Derek screams “IT’S CRIMINAL” and then suddenly a fast-paced pop punk song hits you in the face (metaphorically speaking). Now imagine this, but everything else is quiet as the entire crowd screams “IT’S CRIMINAL”, before the band going full pelt into a fast song. It was one of those live moments that make you think …wow. It definitely gets you in the mood to go nuts.
The rest of this 1 hour and 15-minute set shows that State Champs have earned their place as one of the most well-known pop punk bands in the scene currently. Every instrument is played without flaw. The drums in particular keep up the upbeat sound that is so very needed in a pop punk show. Even the crowd don’t falter. Regardless of whether the song is more pop than punk, old or new, slow or fast, every word is sang in perfect timing, and the mosh pit that takes up at least half the floor is constant. One thing that shocked me when watching the crowd was that the it ranged from adult bearded men (four year strong is that you?) to teenage girls… and all of them are loving this show and this band. For a band to create such a strong reaction from such a diverse fanbase …well they must be doing something right.
The light sequences are worth a mention as not only were they perfectly in time, but they were mostly red, which is an extremely well thought out choice when you realise that the album artwork for their latest album Living Proof is also mostly red. There was also some great pyro for those moments when they’re needed, such as that moment when Criminal kicked in (as I mentioned earlier).
With all of these things combined, State Champs is a band that deserves not just to be the level that they’re at, but they deserve to be bigger. I hope to one day see this band take the arena stage they deserve. Overall, coming into this show as someone who just knew the odd State Champs song, I have come away impressed. If your friends ever suggest a State Champs show and you’re not sure if you want to go, just say yes.