State Champs at Birmingham’s O2 Institute was raucous, crowd-pleasing pop punk bliss, Redbrick Music Writer Romana Essop details

Written by Romana Essop
First year, fangirl and fresh crep fanatic. Pop-punker, probably at the merch stand. Also admire alliterative phrases. English and Creative Writing.
Images by Alie Krohn

Continuing to celebrate the success of their third full-length album, Living Proof, which was released in June, New York based pop-punk five-piece State Champs played Birmingham’s O2 Institute for a Halloween show to remember. Having toured the album in the US for most of summer, the band embraced the autumnal festivities for their penultimate UK tour date, taking to the stage in ‘spooky’ costumes and expressing their approval of many audience members’ own efforts.

They were joined by Scottish, Australian and Canadian support acts Woes, Stand Atlantic and Seaway, all of whom appealed to the crowd’s obvious taste for the up-beat, fast-paced sound which makes State Champs hugely popular in the modern era of pop-punk.

It was clear that both him and his band mates were fuelled by the passion of their loyal fans who dominated the venue

The Champs opened with ‘Criminal’ and ‘Frozen’ – the first two tracks from their latest album; an interesting but perhaps reasonable choice, since neither of the songs were singles from the album but did not fail to excite the crowd and kick-start their energetic response of almost non-stop moshing and crowd-surfing. Frontman, Derek DiScanio, only provoked this reaction by encouraging more volume and fluidity from his already bouncing and screaming audience. However, it was clear that both him and his band mates were fuelled by the passion of their loyal fans who dominated the venue, with their on-stage presence and energy seeming to only increase as the set continued.

Much to his satisfaction, the crowd gladly ‘filled the gaps’ in DiScanio’s reproductions of some of the band’s most loved tracks from their previous albums and EPs. Thus, despite this tour being a celebration of Living Proof, audience members were delighted with the inclusion of ‘Losing Myself’, ‘All You Are Is History’, ‘Hard To Please’ and others which broke up the new, less established tracks.

The band and crowd’s energy alike climaxed in the encore which surprisingly excluded Living Proof all together

A short, but perhaps well-deserved, moment of rest was offered through an acoustic performance of ‘If I’m Lucky’, for which DiScanio was forced to put his largely abandoned microphone stand to use in order to play his guitar. The rest of the band disappeared from stage, leaving their vocalist exposed in brighter white lighting, but in the capable hands of a surprisingly skilled harmonising audience who carried him through a faultless and intimate performance. This was immediately followed by ‘Our Time To Go’ – a powerful ballad which successfully closed the first half of the set with a chance to appreciate the band’s lyricism and vocal talent before jumping right back in to their usual riff- filled head-bangers.

The band and crowd’s energy alike climaxed in the encore, which surprisingly excluded Living Proof all together, instead bringing back ‘Elevated’ from their debut full-length album, and the popular ‘Secrets’ from their second. In their final effort, the band pushed themselves to the edge of the stage, physically bringing the performance as close as possible for the show-stopping end to ‘one for the books’ according to DiScanio himself. And so, despite the ghoulish theme, State Champs’ Halloween show was far from lifeless.

‘Living Proof’ is available now via Pure Noise Records.