Pop-Punk Bill at Agora Draws Capacity Crowd

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Last night’s white-out blizzard couldn’t keep fans away from the Agora. Two of the hottest bands in the pop-punk scene, State Champs and Neck Deep, played to an absolutely jam-packed theater and didn’t disappoint. Knuckle Puck and Like Pacific also shared the bill. All bands sounded flawless, and the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd fed off the energy like fiends.

The Neck Deep guys walked out on stage to a thunderous cheer from the crowd, something that would happen again for State Champs. The band opened with “Citizens of Earth,” a track off their newest CD Life's Not Out To Get You. This song helped to get the rowdy crowd going, as it is one of their most punk influenced songs, with a fast and upbeat tempo. Singer Ben Barlow thrived on the fast tempo, skanking in the middle of the stage and jumping around. Truly the whole band was leaving it all on the stage as members were jumping around and playing. 

During “Crushing Grief (No Remedy)” it was entirely evident just how loud the crowd was. There were moments during the song, and really the whole performance, when it was hard to hear Barlow over the crowd. Another notable example would be during the latter half of “Serpents,” as the song started to pick up and the vocals truly kicked in, the crowd was right there along side Barlow.

Even with the crowd being as deafening as they could, they still would go on to get even louder during “A Part of Me,” none other than an acoustic song. The stage lit up as Barlow requested fans to pull out their phones and turn on their flashlights, and from the second Barlow starting singing, it was absolutely electric. At one point Barlow said, “This is all you,” and walked away from the mic as the crowd sang an entire verse, not wavering for a second. The studio version has guest vocals from Laura Whiteside, but the crowd effectively sang her parts.

Neck Deep killed it, simply put. Barlow sounded spot on the entire performance and not once did he falter. Drummer Dani Washington sounded tight and precise despite the upbeat and fast tempo at times. Really the band sounded amazing and put on one hell of a show.

Not to be out done, State Champs walked out on stage to easily the loudest cheer of the night. The band opened up with “Eyes Closed” and “Secrets,” the first two songs off its newest album, Around the World and Back. Right from the start of the second song, the place came absolutely unglued, entirely drowning out Derek DiScanio's vocals. Really, not enough can be said about how loud and involved the crowd was throughout the entire show.

During a break in the performance, DiScanio told the crowd this was not only the biggest show of the tour, but the biggest headlining show the band has played to date. He went on to talk about the band's history in Cleveland, saying that the first show they played in Cleveland was five years ago in a band members backyard. A five-year journey took the band from playing in a backyard to playing to a sold out crowd of 2100 people on a headlining tour in the same city. It's safe to say this band is blowing up with no signs of stopping anytime soon.

About halfway through the band's set, it slowed things down for an acoustic performance of “If I'm Lucky.” DiScanio was left standing on stage alone with an acoustic guitar in hand as the crowd clapped and sang along. As the song started to pick up, members of the band joined Derek back out on stage and the tempo of the show started to pick up once again. Just as Neck Deep did, State Champs had a stand out song, which just so happened to be its last, “Elevated.” Balloons rained down from the balcony above, and suggested the concert’s party atmosphere. Fans were there to have a good time and sing at the top of their lungs.

Last night’s concert showcased some of the best talent in the pop-punk scene, from the bands that have already started to gain traction to the bands that will soon be headlining tours just as big in Knuckle Puck and Like Pacific. These four bands are the bands to watch as times go on, as their talent is more than backed up by amazing live performances that are starting to turn heads.
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