Words: Kelsey Trevan
Photos: Dylan Martin
It’s starting to warm up in Melbourne, and I’m not just talking about the weather! Tonight 170 Russell is all about pop punk with 3 of the best from Australia’s East Coast and one of the best bands out of Britain right now. It doesn’t matter that it’s a Tuesday night, Neck Deep have sold out the venue and the people are here early and ready to enjoy what’s promising to be an epic night.
First up to play is Brisbane’s Stateside, a four piece consisting of vocalist and frontwoman Erin Reus, guitarist Ethan Laenen, bassist Jackson Lehane and drummer Hamish Maguire. They started off strong and the crowd were more than happy to give them support, everyone sharing a bit of a chuckle when Ethan’s guitar strap broke part way through the first song and had to be stuck back together with duct tape! Then it was time to play a new song which called for crowd participation to sing ‘low’ with Erin and Jackson. Then came a much rockier than the original version cover of Avril Lavinge classic ‘Sk8er Boi’. As is customary at Stateside shows, Erin took the opportunity to talk about the importance of discussing mental health and shared the message “Everything gets worse before it gets better, and we love you”. Erin is an incredible frontwoman and just oozes energy and charisma, even joking about the cute bromance between Jackson and Ethan on stage and the two head-bumping affectionately!
Next to play are Melbourne locals, Between You And Me, who hit the stage with wrestling team D-Generation X’s entrance music, and the famous ‘are you ready’? The five piece is vocalist Jake Wilson, guitarists and backing vocalists Chris Bowerman and Jai Gibson, bassist James Karagiozis and drummer Jamey Bowerman. Known for always being quite the character, James did not disappoint and came to stage shirtless and wearing brightly decorated hippie shorts and suspenders with a Santa hat, which lasted about 4 seconds before falling off! It is obvious that these guys are the home town heroes tonight as there is barely anyone who is not singing along and moshing. The first circle pit of the evening was opened up during Between You And Me’s set and that really brought more energy to the performance. It seems that you cannot escape being asked to do a ‘shoey’, an activity that involves the subject drinking beer from a shoe, at a show nowadays and even though they were asked, I admired their resistance to doing one, using excuses like it’s too early and their shoes are too new! Jake ended the set by front flipping off the stage and into the crowd, before being carried back to the stage.
Sydney’s Stand Atlantic were up next and first bassist David Potter and drummer Jonno Panichi came to the stage, before being joined by their leading lady and guitarist Bonnie Fraser. Bonnie also came out wearing a Santa hat at the start of their set and it lasted a lot longer than Between You And Me bassist James’ did. The Sydneysider’s were getting a lot of love right from the first song and everyone was singing along. The backdrop during their set appeared to be an innocent animation of their name with a burning flame, but it actually turned out to secretly be hiding Shannon Noll with it! The fire animation worked perfectly with their set as the only way to describe their performance was on fire! It is refreshing to see more up and coming bands with female leads and Bonnie is no exception. She strutted about the stage, slayed at guitar and gave as much back to the crowd as they were giving her in terms of energy and enthusiasm.
It was now time for tonight’s main attraction, Wrexham, England’s, Neck Deep. One of the current premier UK bands, and one of the best pop punk bands in the world. Neck Deep is vocalist Ben Barlow, guitarists Matt ‘West’ and Sam Bowden and drummer Dani Washington. It was extremely odd not seeing a bass player on stage as Neck Deep parted ways earlier in the year with their bassist, but it was really only odd for a moment as you were completely drawn in to what was happening on stage from the first chord of opening track ‘Motion Sickness’. It was abundantly clear from the get-go that this sold out Melbourne crowd were living for tonight’s show and it was full on energy from start to finish. Ben introduced each member of his band and it was obvious from the way Sam tried to hide behind him and out of his sight that there was going to be a lot of banter between the band members on stage. They also did their cover of Natalie Imbruglia’s ‘Torn’, that the contributed to Hopeless Records’ ‘Songs That Saved My Life’ initiative. It definitely caused a few people, including myself to tear up.
Before launching into ‘Judgement Day’, West seemed to be mimicking swimming in the air…Actually, no, he was just wanting people to open the pit up, which Ben was more than happy to encourage and the crowd were more than happy to oblige. ‘Don’t Wait’ is one of the bands faster and aggressive songs but the transition into the much slower and somber ‘December’ was seamless. Ben prefaced the song by telling a story about a girl breaking up with him, and his being sad which he is convinced wouldn’t have happened if he lived in Australia and could just go get drunk on a beach instead. There’s something beautiful about a SOLD OUT crowd chanting ‘SHOEY!’ which Ben was forced to do. Ben then told the story of ‘Candor’, which he wrote in 2014 about his Dad being unwell for ‘a while’ and who sadly passed away last year. Ben then took the opportunity to tell the story of how his parents met, which is also the story told in ’19 Seventy Sumthin’ which they played next.
All too soon it seemed to be time for the band to play ‘In Bloom’ then taking the piss out of the ‘this is our last song’ moniker before playing it and going off stage then returning for the encore, which also had the piss taken out of it in a playful and fun way. Sam was then ‘forced’ to do a shoey as he was the only member of the band who hadn’t done one yet. The encore was two songs, firstly ‘Roots’ before an emotional farewell was given to the bands long time tour manager Newy. The farewell was cemented with a group hug on stage with the crew and Neck Deep. ‘Where Do We Go When We Go’ was Neck Deep’s last song and special backing vocals were given by Newy.
Tonight was an amazing way for the band to finish up the Australian leg of the world tour and there was not a single person in the crowd tonight who didn’t enjoy themselves. Each band put 110% into their performances and it showed. Overall a fantastic and highly entertaining night and hopefully Neck Deep return soon!
What Did You Expect?
19 Seventy Sumthin’
Where Do We Go When We Go?
Between You And Me