State Champs sell out at Bogies
By Eli Enis
The pride and joy of Albany’s music scene, State Champs, played their first hometown show in almost a year last Friday to a sold out crowd at Bogies. The show kicked off their first headlining tour, the month long Pure Noise Records Tour, alongside label-mates, Handguns, Forever Came Calling, Front Porch Step, Heart to Heart, and Brigades.
Since the release of their debut album, “The Finer Things” last October, State Champs have risen exponentially within the ranks of the pop punk genre. Within the past year alone they’ve managed to tour Japan, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and all throughout the U.S. including a very successful summer on the Vans Warped Tour.
Therefore, being able to come home and play to a sold out crowd is not only a monumental feat for the band, but also a promising portrayal of the current state of Albany’s music scene.
South Carolina natives and Pure Noise rookies, Brigades, started off the evening with their brand of pop punky, melodic hardcore a la The Story So Far. After only reissuing their EP, “Crocodile Tears”, through Pure Noise this past spring, the quintet have yet to build a national following comparable to their tour-mates. However, after seeing them for the first time a few months prior in a near-empty room and leaving unimpressed, it’s obvious that they’ve improved since and that they’re highly competent in feeding off of the crowd’s energy.
Next up was California’s, Heart to Heart, who play a unique blend of punk, hardcore, and straight up hard rock. Vocalist, Nick Zoppo had an incredible stage presence and the energy they radiated made for one of the most intense sets of the night. At times the guitars would ring out, presumably signally a hardcore style breakdown, and then unexpectedly turn into a thick-riffed chant that settled somewhere between mosh-worthy and head bangable. Their outlandish, yet brilliant balance of melody and pure rage was confusing in all of the right ways and ended up whisking the crowd to fandom by the end of the performance.
The one-man acoustic act and Tumblr sensation, Front Porch Step, followed with his selection of tear-jerking tales of unrequited love and heartbreak. A sizeable portion of the crowd, mostly girls in the 14-17 year old demographic, ate him up throughout his somber, yet convincingly emotional set. Despite him being the odd man out as the only acoustic act on the tour, he was able to successfully move the audience in ways that the other bands couldn’t. He even cleverly inserted a slowed-down portion of Blink-182’s, “Always”, into the beginning of his song, “Aware”, which added a unique element to his somewhat generic acoustic tunes.
Next up was California pop punkers, Forever Came Calling, who were greeted by a shockingly receptive crowd throughout their instrumentally spot-on set. Something about their sound is just so unique and they were able to transfer over that distinctiveness damn-near perfectly in the live setting. They played most of the fan favorites off their debut album, “Contender”, as well as the three singles off of their upcoming album, “What Matters Most”. The older songs they played set off the entire room, however many fans seemed disappointed when they introduced the new songs, which led to a severe dampening of the energy. The new songs were certainly tight live, however it may not have been wise to play all three given that fans hadn’t had enough time to fully digest them yet.
The band Handguns followed with a lengthy set that contained mostly songs off of their latest album, “Life Lessons”, which was released this past July. For one reason or another, many longtime fans of Handguns just haven’t given “Life Lessons” a good listen yet and this showed throughout their set. Older songs such as “I Hope He Kills You”, “A Year In Review”, and “Porch Light” garnered a substantial crowd reaction, however many of the equally fantastic songs off of “Life Lessons” such as “Queens”, “Sleep Deprived”, and “The Loved Ones Who Hate Us” got poor reception. Handguns have consistently put out stellar pop punk songs throughout their career and “Life Lessons” is no exception. Hopefully fans will give the album a fair chance after hearing the songs live because Handguns are as catchy and fun as they ever have been.
Finally, the evening was closed with a wild and incredibly enjoyable set by the hometown heroes, State Champs. As soon as the opening riffs of, “Nothing’s Wrong” began the entire crowd shoved forward and the mass crowd-surfs, finger-pointing, and sing-alongs began. That initial energy never once ceased throughout the entire set, except of course when they stripped down to just acoustic guitar to play through the fan-favorite, “Stick Around”, off their 2011 EP, “Apparently, I’m Nothing”.
However, asides from the aforementioned, “Stick Around”, and, “We Are the Brave”, off their 2012 EP, “Overslept”, the set was predominantly songs off “The Finer Things”. Songs such as “Remedy”, “Deadly Conversations”, and the ever-popular, “Elevated” were absolutely devoured by the crowd. Asides for the unnecessary performance of the acoustic, “Leave You in the Dark”, and the collective disappointment of long-time fans yearning to hear the classic, “How it Used to Be”, State Champs put on a magnificent performance that included enough of the hits to keep just about everyone satisfied.
State Champs write songs that are just meant to be yelled back to them in the live setting. They’re bouncy, catchy as all hell, and provide just enough pop to their punk to satisfy most any fan of the collective genre. The show was certainly one for the history books, and if they continue to progress the way they have throughout the past year this may have been the last time they’ll ever play the tiny Bogies.