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WPGM Reviews: State Champs Live At O2 Institute Birmingham

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Rounding off their UK tour in support of their latest album, Kings Of The New Age, Birmingham was the last stop for State Champs. As the saying goes, save the best till last. But before fans were able to witness what they had to offer, up first were Between You And Me.

They definitely knew what it took to kick things off as the opening band. From stage presence, and crowd interaction to audience participation, that was the recipe for a great set. The energy from the whole band made its way from the barriers at the front of the venue, all the way to the balcony. There wasn’t one person standing still during their set, with tracks like “Overthinking” and “Go To Hell” being fan favourites.

Things were slowed down a little for “Dakota” which definitely showed the versatility of the band. “Deadbeat” was the track that brought everything to a close. It wouldn’t be a Between You and Me set if lead singer, Jake Wilson, and bassist, James Karagiozis, didn’t make it their mission to get amongst the crowd, create a mosh pit, and showed everyone what a Between You and Me show is like.

Bringing a heavier side to pop punk were Heart Attack Man. They were ready to keep the energy up and that was evident from the first second. Kicking things off was “Puke”, which was an aggressive start, which was something that was going to continue from the very first to the last song. The instruments overpowered the vocals at times.

Songs including “Sugar Coated” gave off a 90s/grunge feel, whereas “Rats In A Bucket”, had the essential components to make for a pop punk track. Although differing from Between You and Me, switching things up a little makes for an interesting and diverse show.

Ending with the tracks, “Pitch Black” and “Leap Year”, it is the heavy riffs and punk lyrics that allow for Heart Attack Man to put on an energetic set and one to be proud of. Speaking of energy, who everyone had been waiting for, Birmingham gave a well deserved applause to State Champs as they took to the stage.

In support of their latest album, Kings Of The New Age, State Champs opened up with the tracks, “Here To Say” and “Eventually”. With the album having been out just a few days prior to the show, fans were still finding their feet with the lyrics.

That didn’t matter though because Derek DiScanio (vocals), Tyler Szalkowski (Guitar), Ryan Scott Graham (Bass) and Evan Ambrosio (Drums) know what it takes to put on the perfect pop punk show. There is no such thing as a State Champs show without the energy, crowd participation and every single person in that room, whether on stage or in the crowd witnessing a night to remember.

The setlist was a mixture of new tracks, as well as noticeable fan fvourites from previous albums, including “Easy Enough”, “Remedy” and “Simple Existence”. It is evident that the band enjoy every single second of being up on that stage, and so that is the energy that translates throughout the entire room.

Recognising that the crowd got louder and louder when hearing the beginning of older State Champs songs, “Easy Enough” got the reception it deserved that night. Bright colourful lights emerged for the “Act Like That”, as this turned into a little dance party. There was not one person standing still. A simple requirement at any pop punk show.

“Just Sound”, a newer track, but was one where everyone was singing every line of the chorus and jumping up and down in unison. The night just kept getting better and better. There’s no doubt that State Champs have been and are still one of the best pop punk bands out there right now.

And if their songs and live shows are anything to go by, they will continue to do what they do best, which is having their fans leave every single show, wherever in the world, with huge smiles on their faces and admiration. “Losing Myself” and “All You Are Is History” had the crowd singing back every word so loud that it nearly drowned out Derek’s vocals.

The crowd gave it their all for “Everybody But You”, and still had enough energy for the encore. The band left the stage and came back a few minutes later to round off the night with everyone’s favourite, “Elevated” and let’s not forget the perfect way to end the UK leg of the tour and any SC show, is with ‘Secrets’.

Birmingham gave State Champs a massive round of applause and well deserved cheers before the lights went down and it was all over. A special night for everyone, as State Champs cement themselves firmly in pop punk, as they have been doing for a number of years, and they don’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon.

Words and photography by Sarah Akomanyi

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