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STATE CHAMPS - Leeds Beckett Students Union, Leeds 17.05.2022

On the 17th of May, American Pop-Punk four piece State Champs made their return to Leeds on their first UK run since 2019 in support of their new album 'Kings Of The New Age,' playing the Leeds Beckett Student Union with support coming from Australian up and comers Between You And Me and American punks Heart Attack Man.

Before even getting into the venue you could feel the energy in the crowd, with the queue stretching down the street and security walking up and down reminding us to stay hydrated due to the heat, which put me in good standing and confirmed that the security had the crowds safety as a top priority.

It wasn’t long until Between You And Me took the stage to kick things off. Having seen them in late 2018 supporting WSTR, I’ve been following the Aussie’s careers, however they blew my expectations out of the water. Somehow in the three and a half years since I last saw them, they have managed to gain even more energy on stage, with every member bouncing and spinning as much as possible, and their energy was incredibly infectious, as they had the majority of the crowd bouncing with them. I found myself laughing at one point because of their reaction to a chant that many of you will be familiar with if you’ve been to a gig in Leeds or the surrounding area; the inevitable “Yorkshire” chant - which the band, as many bands from overseas tend to, thought was the crowd turning on them and chanting “you’re shit”. Their set mainly comprised of cuts off their latest album 'Armageddon,' with the exception of standalone single ‘Overthinking’ and one of my favourite songs by them, their penultimate song ‘Dakota’, which possibly got the best reaction from the crowd. For final song ‘Deadbeat’, lead vocalist Jake Wilson and bassist James Karagiozis came down into the mosh pit, ramping up the energy once more. I would thoroughly recommend seeing these guys, especially for their upcoming sets at Slam Dunk Festival.

Next up was Heart Attack Man. Prior to the gig I didn’t know much about the band, but I had been told by a few of my friends that they were brilliant and I should look forward to seeing them. I listened to a couple of their tracks and liked what I heard, however unfortunately the same can’t be said for their set on the night. During the first few tracks, I found that there was a very grating noise that I believe was produced by an over zealous effects pedal. Aside from this, I found the energy of the band to be fairly lacklustre, however this could be partly due to the crowd, as aside from a few fans the majority of the crowd seemed uninterested, which was interesting to note considering Heart Attack Man’s heavier sound. I personally feel like they suffered from being on the wrong lineup from the fan’s perspective, as I reckon that with the right crowd and the right energy they’d put on a phenomenal show, but that sadly wasn’t the case on this particular night.

And finally, we come to State Champs, who exploded onto the stage with the track ‘Here To Stay’, which also served as the opening track to 'Kings Of The New Age'. This was a brilliant opener and set the tone beautifully. Their set consisted of a good balance of old and new songs, spanning the entirety of the band’s four album discography, however I noticed that the energy in the crowd dipped ever so slightly when the band performed their newer songs, but it is easy to assume that this is due to the little time that fans have had to become familiar with these tracks. The energy of the band was visible on every one of their faces, with all four members constantly reaching for towels between songs to dry themselves off, and the crowd reflected this, with mosh pits and crowd surfers throughout pretty much every single song. The atmosphere for Pop Punk shows, I’ve found, is always phenomenal, and this show certainly wasn’t any exception. The band had the crowd in the palm of their hands, which was particularly noticeable in the moments where bassist Ryan Scott Graham encouraged the start of more “Yorkshire” chants. Highlights from the set, for me, included all four of the songs they played from their 2018 album 'Living Proof', as well as the songs ‘Remedy’, ‘Out Of My Head’, ‘Act Like That’, ‘Losing Myself’, ‘Everybody But You’, ‘All You Are Is History’, and of course the encore songs ‘Elevated’ and ‘Secrets’, however my favourite song of the evening was definitely my favourite song that State Champs have ever released, which comes in the form of the track ‘Slow Burn’. Every song was performed flawlessly, and the crowd loved every single minute of it. It’s safe to say this was one of the rowdiest Tuesday nights I’ve witnessed.

I’ve seen State Champs several times before, and they manage to get better every single time you see them. If you’re a fan of Pop Punk, which if you’re reading this I’d assume you are, I couldn’t recommend seeing them enough in the venues they’re currently playing before they inevitably become one of the leaders of the genre and start headlining arenas.

Review - Gordon Rae

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