Neck Deep are the hottest thing in pop-punk right now. For a band that’s only been around for two years to be playing headline shows in mid-size venues is highly impressive, but when you take into account the fact that they’re also selling out these shows, you’d be an idiot to ignore them.
Part one of the local support comes from Tuskens (****), another inexperienced band. The Bristol lads are following the same path as Neck Deep, playing pop-punk inspired by The Wonder Years et al. Tuskens have one EP to their name with a number of head bopping tracks, like ‘Ten Years Old, Twelve Years On’, and they give it everything they’ve got. You can really see how much it means to them to have so many people screaming their lyrics back.
Bath’s Montrose (*****) somehow manage to up the energy again following Tuskens. It’s obvious from the off that their infectious pop-punk and breakdown stew is to everyone in the place’s liking, and the droves of crowdsurfers do their best to back up this claim. They sound like Four Year Strong before they got shit, playing tracks from newly released EP, ‘If Only You Knew’. Despite the catastrophic wardrobe clash between singer and guitarist making them look like a crew of lumberjacks, Montrose know exactly how to dish out the banter and the fun in spades full.
Fighting for the South-Eastern scene are ROAM (***) from Brighton. There’s still an energy about the place, but a few heads are already dropping due to the packed room and the endless crowdsurfers. Alex Adam on guitar/vocals cranes his neck to power out some more chirpy pop-punk while Alex Costello effortlessly rouses the audience into action, allowing the front row to parrot on command. The accented vocals make ROAM sound like a mix between tonight’s headliners and The Kooks, but they’re still well worth everyone’s attention.
Sometimes, bands don’t live up to the hype. Sometimes, for whatever reason, their style vastly outweighs their substance, resulting in an end product that doesn’t really do much except stroke a few egos. This is most certainly not the case for Neck Deep (*****), who have more substance than a Colombian drug mule. The room erupts into life at the sight of the band and doesn’t stop exploding throughout the opening tracks, including ‘Crushing Grief’ and ‘Damsel In Distress’. One chap plucks energy out of thin air, stage diving more than an exasperated Tom Daley. It’s about mid-way through the set after ‘Losing Teeth’ when the band pauses due to the immense heat of the room and stage. It really is hotter than Satan’s sauna in the Exchange tonight, and it’s taking its effect on a freshly full of Nando’s Neck Deep.
After a brief respite, a near vomiting Ben Barlow musks up the adrenaline to perform a couple of acoustic numbers, namely ‘A Part Of Me’ and ‘Head To The Ground’. A final flourish of ‘Growing Pains’ sends the room into meltdown, but despite the band’s protestations, an encore comes in the form of ‘Up In Smoke’. A show sweatier than Lisa Riley’s exercise bike comes to a close and the band can head off once more to the final few dates on the tour. They’ll be back in a few weeks with We Are The In Crowd, and you’d bet that everyone in attendance tonight will be there too.
Written by MG Savage (@MGsavagewriter)