The Underworld, Camden – 17/06/2019
For those of you who are unfamiliar with State Champs, they’re one of my favourite bands on the current Pure Noise Records rosta. Amongst other big names on their books such as Four Year Strong, The Story So Far and Seaway – these guys have come a long way since they first started out back in 2010. Now with three albums under their belt, (all killer no filler), and working with the likes of Mark Hoppus and All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth on their latest, Living Proof – it’s safe to say they’re in very good company.
They’re pop punk through-and-through, and whilst their style has evolved and refined over the years with each and every album, they’ve still managed to keep hold of their own distinct sound. These guys are one of the biggest names to surface in the last decade’s wave of pop punk, and one I’ve particularly enjoyed watching grow over the years. Seeing them come from supporting the likes of New Found Glory and Neck Deep five or so years ago, to now be selling out their own headline tours is a lovely thing.
Having been Around The World and Back (quite literally), in the last year promoting their third studio album Living Proof, they kindly popped back over from New York to the UK and Europe for a handful of headline shows (via Download Festival). Last night’s was a special one though as it was back at The Underworld in Camden – a venue they undeniably outgrew years a go. Now selling out their own headline tours as well as supporting in arenas, the chances of seeing them somewhere so small again are pretty slim – which is why I knew this show would sell-out immediately. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing a band at this lovely little venue – it’s pretty damn tiny (500 capacity). So if you’re seeing a band there which you’re a big fan of, it’s a super intimate experience. I’ve seen a handful of my favourites play there over the years now, and although the floors are sticky and it turns into a sweatbox almost immediately… it’s absolutely worth it.
They opened with Criminal, the first track from Living Proof which seemed fitting seeing as the album just had its first birthday a couple of days ago. Right off the bat the crowd start jumping, and it was clear to see that the room was entirely full of hardcore State Champ fans. Whilst these days at shows you normally find me standing at the back hanging with the parents, you can’t really help but get involved at The Underworld. I was immediately thankful I didn’t have a pint to be worried about losing… Crowd surfers were popping up all over the room and it very much set the tone for the rest of the set. Wild. Energy was high, and judging by the massive grins on their faces, the band were massively excited to see such a hyped up crowd too.
Overall it was a really strong set list, with a decent blend of hits and favourites from across their three albums… No easy task considering the amount of quality tracks they have now. We got to hear Secrets, Slow Burn, Shape Up from 2015’s Around The World and Back, along with newer favourites, Crystal Ball, Lightning and Mine Is Gold also making the cut. Fresh off the back of the new video released last week, Frozen got a huge reception too. However the music abruptly stopped halfway through… At first it looked like there was some kind of technical fault, but actually it transpired that a girl had passed out on stage. The band handled it super well and stopped playing immediately so that she could be taken somewhere safe. Underworld gets crazy hot on a warm day, so think she’d just overdone it a little. Ironic that it happened during a song called Frozen, but yeah, she was fine thankfully – and so without further delay, they started back from the top. The back end of the set was then a bit of a throwback, with OG fans being treated to Remedy, Simple Existence and Elevated too. Naturally, being a crowd of mostly long-time State Champs fans, these went down rather well.
By this point I had sweated almost entirely through my favourite Jimmy Eat World t-shirt, but I for one never like to miss an encore. Before the night closed, Derek announced that it was about time they started writing new music. It looks like they’ll be heading back into the studio after the summer, so hopefully that means we have some new State Champs to look forward to next year. They then played us out with crowd-favourite All You Are Is History (arguably one of the best pop punk songs ever written IMHO), and Dead and Gone, one of the singles from Living Proof that they worked with Mark Hoppus on. Then it was home-time and I was ready for a shower. The Underworld normally have a pretty early curfew for their club nights, so although they only played for an hour at least I was back before 10:30pm. Rock and roll.
So, in summary – probably one of the loudest, sweatiest, most fun gigs I’ve been to in a while, and the tightest I’ve seen State Champs play over the years. It’s clear to see they’re in a great place right now and all their hard work over is paying off. If you missed out on last night’s show and fancy re-enacting it in your bedroom, here’s a playlist I thew together with everything they played. Enjoy! I’m now off to another gig, so I’m pretty certain my voice won’t be doing much better by tomorrow…