Neck Deep

support Real Friends + As It Is + Blood Youth
author PP date 21/10/17 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

It's the pop punk event of the year in Denmark, at least if you are to believe the local scene reaction. Rising stars in Neck Deep have managed to sell out the 350 capacity downstairs area of Pumpehuset so the show has been moved to the larger, 600 capacity upstairs hall instead. With formidable supporting cast reading hardcore warriors Blood Youth, polished pop punksters As It Is, and the emotionally wrought Real Friends, the Saturday evening is set with upcoming newcomers looking to capture the pop punk throne. And as such, the audience age is what you might expect: pretty much everyone is a head or two shorter than the undersigned, with the front few rows taken over by screaming teenage girls who can't be a day older than 13 years by the looks of it. A whole lot of eeeeeeeee ahead of us, then.

Blood Youth

Blood Youth

First up is Blood Youth, who is the odd one out tonight. They're a straight-up hardcore band despite having some post-hardcore style cleans in the mix. With barked vocals and other hardcore antics, the band get the crowd bouncing early and few small mosh pits started. They make a point about being the heaviest band on the bill as well: before "Parasite", they announce it as their heaviest song and ask the crowd to bounce with them. Occasionally, their guitarist circles around his spot, but overall, the band is unusually static for a hardcore band on stage. Combine that with songs that sound monotonous on first listen and whiny post-hardcore choruses, and you have a bored writer that has seen this same type of band more times than I care to count. Needs: better songs and more energy on stage.

5

As It Is - or is it Justin Bieber?

As It Is

As It Is and Real Friends have been alternating as the second support and main support throughout the tour, and tonight it's the former's turn to start the pop punk festivities. But before they get on, the touring suicide prevention charity is given a chance to promote their thing with a small talk about it being okay not to be okay. They have a desk downstairs where, apparently, quite a lot of people go by and say hello as we're told later on during the evening.

As It Is

But back to As It is. From the moment they get on stage, it's easy to see why the band are slowly starting to have a breakthrough in the music scene. One, they sound kinda like Fall Out Boy did on their old albums before they sold their souls to pop music. Two, their lead singer is basically a cardboard figure cut out of a teenage fashion magazine. Stylized hair and a look that makes the girls scream every time he removes a piece of clothing, and a way of moving and dancing on stage that just looks and feels sexy all-around. He's waving his microphone around, winks at the front rows and moves his hips like he was in a club. It's a pompous, unashamedly "I look good and I know it" type of a performance that can be a bit too much those of us accustomed to the laid-back attitudes of punk rock bands, but the crowd tonight laps it up without such critique. Quite a lot of people have shown up early, so As It Is are given a perfect opportunity to capitalize on new fans, yet if you've heard your fair share of pop punk bands in the fast, their expression does feel a tad anonymous and derivative, at least on first listen. That said, the band gets people jumping, and the rawer style of the older song "Dial Tones" sounds great even for the undersigned, especially given the loud sing along it draws from the audience.

7

Real Friends' Dan Lambton spent the majority of the show in exactly this posture

Real Friends

It's no secret Real Friends is the band I had the highest expectations for tonight, considering how great their EP and first album are. This is a band that is centered on the heartfelt, genuine lyricism by singer Dan Lambton, even if their entire style is basically copied note-by-note from the realist pop punk expression of early Wonder Years albums. Many of their songs are instrumentally rooted in punk rock with a rawer approach to pop punk than, say, As It Is or tonight's headliners Neck Deep, yet despite their energetic foundation, the band is awfully static on stage. Lambton basically just stands there holding his mic up high, singing his passionate and emotionally heavy lyrics with his eyes closed for the most part. But that doesn't matter. The band looks and feels real, especially after their heartfelt speech about how music is a way of escapism from your regular lives and how this show should feel like a place like that for us, as similar shows have for Lambton in the past.

Real Friends

Already from the first song, it's clear that Real Friends are a familiar band to the crowd who are singing along to "Mess" and getting a circle pit going straight away. "Colder Quicker" and "Summer" follow, but it is the EP tracks "I've Given Up On You" and "Late Nights In My Car" which capture the crowd's imagination. The latter, in particular, draws huge sing-alongs for it's "If you never break, you'll never know how to put yourself back together part". and brings a melody that's back chilling, to say the least. So although the band's showmanship could improve drastically, and even though you have to come to an understanding about how the entire band is basically built around Lambton's genuine and emotionally-wrought lyricism, the overall experience is a positive one and suggests Real Friends made a bunch of new fans tonight.

7

Neck Deep

Neck Deep! Neck Deep! Neck Deep! the crowd starts chanting before the band even get on stage, so unsurprisingly the venue breaks out into a mass singalong immediately for "Happy Judgement Day". The stage is drenched in bright colours to highlight the summery pop punk feel of their music, and the band's energy on stage is infectious. It doesn't take long before everyone is bouncing up and down for "Lime St.", and the first stage divers try their luck on stage since there's no barrier. And once everyone notices Neck Deep are perfectly fine with people on stage, it turns into a constant flow of guys and girls vaulting off the stage after a couple of brief dance moves. One girl even sneaks a quick co-sing along with vocalist Ben Barlow.

Neck Deep

A few songs in and one thing is abundantly clear: this show is a HUGE party. The crowd dynamic is awesome with circle and mosh pits in constant motion, stage divers and crowd surfers everywhere, and massive sing-alongs for songs like "Motion Sickness" or "A Part Of Me". There's no denying the fact: Neck Deep look very much like this generation's New Found Glory based on this reaction.

Neck Deep

Initially, I was worried about the new songs since the new album isn't that interesting on record. However, the few tracks that are aired tonight from it sound great. "Parachute", for instance, is well-received by the crowd, and the Sam Carter-featuring "Don't Wait" is a nice injection of hardcore energy into the song. Carter obviously isn't on this tour, so the screams are taken care of by Razor, the band's stagehand who handles himself in a manner that suggests he probably has a band or two of his own under his belt.

Neck Deep

The acoustic stuff "Head To The Ground" and "Wish You Were Here" just aren't very interesting and the party quiets down considerably for a while, but luckily it picks up for the aforementioned "A Part Of Me" just before the encore. The band comes back for another older track, "Can't Kick Up The Roots", which again drowns the venue in a sing-along much bigger than I would've expected from a small UK pop punk band in Denmark. The stage fills with stage divers, and encouraged by them, Barlow even tries one himself for the last section of "Where Do We Go When We Go", as he has been promising throughout the show. Overall, a great set that suggests this isn't the last time we'll see a Neck Deep show being upgraded to a bigger space.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Happy Judgement Day
  • 2. Lime St.
  • 3. Gold Steps
  • 4. Motion Sickness
  • 5. What Did You Expect?
  • 6. Parachute
  • 7. Kali Ma
  • 8. Rock Bottom
  • 9. Citizens of Earth
  • 10. Don't Wait
  • 11. In Bloom
  • 12. December
  • 13. Head to the Ground
  • 14. Wish You Were Here
  • 15. A Part of Me
  • --Encore--
  • 16. Can't Kick Up the Roots
  • 17. Where Do We Go When We Go

Photos by: Lykke Nielsen

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