Tonight’s bill is an odd mix of bands- kind of a varying punk sandwich if you will, with pop-punk outfits WSTR and Neck Deep doing their thing either side of new-grave, horror-punk band Creeper.
First though are the aforementioned WSTR, who run many a parallel with tonight’s headliners Neck Deep. Fair Weather demonstrates this perfectly, however it all just feels a little as if they’re going through the motions and are not really feeling it tonight. Their cover of Limp Bizkit’s Break Stuff feels more comfortable than some of their own songs, however does get the crowd far more engaged.Creeper are on a whole other level. Their unique blend of caliginous pop/horror/punk, The 1975 meets Good Charlotte and AFI (all of which looks like it was styled by The Cure) kind of feel, makes them the stand out band by a mile tonight. Black Mass has an overwhelmingly alluring chorus, with a constant energy throughout that makes it clear why they are part of this tour otherwise pop-punk heavy tour. Frontman Will Gould has a chance to show off how good his voice really is through the simplistic yet incredibly captivating Misery; ‘I just want to say thank you for being respectful while we played that song, even if you aren’t a fan’, he explains to the crowd as they all remain hushed in the wake of the last track. The band ask for crowd surfers to make it over the barrier for a high five; despite the fact they seem to have a hold over the crowd as much as any good headliner would, there is a lack of people following their request. This matters not though, as there’s enough substance in their show without these added novelties. Everything about Creeper is so stylised and poignant and even if you’re not a fan, there’s no denying this band clearly have an image of how they want to be, carrying it out with utter conviction and style.Disregarding what anyone may think about Neck Deep, there’s no denying that from start to finish, they are always packing immense pace and energy. This means, track after track, you’re guaranteed a good old pop-punk going over. Baring this in mind, the five-piece outfit kick things off with Citizens Of Earth, which embraces an abundance of punchy riffs and simultaneous jumping, getting things off to a good start. ‘Fuck Neck Deep mate they’re shit!’ frontman Ben Barlow jokes with the audience, ‘it’s funny how one troll on the internet can turn into a massive joke’, he adds, and props to him for the way he deals with comments such as these- the whole show is far more light-hearted because of it. Loosing Teeth goes down well as expected, and is truly the start Neck Deep’s unfaltering assault on Leeds’ Beckett University, all underscored by songs that are more often than not, hard to differentiate from the previous. ‘Every time we’ve been to Leeds, which is a lot of times, you never ever disappoint!’ Barlow hails the crowd with praise before dropping Over and Over, an older song from their first EP Rain In July- there’s a little more grit and edge here, perhaps the band feel more passionate about the songs they wrote when they were just starting out, but whatever it is, a change in the atmosphere is evident. Surrounded by the huge boards adorned with pictures of flames that make up their set, Growing Pains ups the pace even more, while A Part Of Me is done justice with the aid of Creeper keyboardist Hannah Greenwood taking on the female vocals; it’s a compelling yet sensitive moment all at the same time.After the encore, Barlow returns to the stage, chiding his crowd for reading setlists online; ‘some of you have probably seen this on a setlist online already! I actually wrote this song for a girl that’s in the room right now…’ queue many a heart breaking in the audience as he takes on Head To The Ground acoustically and onstage alone. Ending their set with Can’t Kick Up The Roots, beach balls are thrown out onto the dancefloor to aid with the process of getting down for the final time tonight, which proved to be a massive hit.
As stated by the frontman himself earlier, people’s opinions of Neck Deep just don’t matter- this Wrexham lot have found their niche, and have gotten an absolute wealth of people aboard their train, which runs only on their own brand of pop-punk. It’s this, and only this, that has gotten them to a place where they feel comfortable laughing off haters, knowing there are always plenty more people behind them- and they show no signs of stopping any time soon.
Photos by Erin Moore at Forte Photography UK