[LIVE REVIEW] Neck Deep @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 04/12/2018

It doesn’t matter what night of the week it is in Melbourne if there is a show to be attending, the crowds will come.
And for the masses gathering at 170 Russell on a slightly sticky Tuesday evening, this pop punk line-up was pretty epic, and definitely brought out my inner angsty teen.

Opening for one of the UK’s finest pop-punk bands, Neck Deep, was a throng of super talented Aussie acts ready to showcase their magic.
First up was Brisbane’s Stateside, having been together since 2014, they have knocked out two EP’s, 2015’s. debut Burning Bridges and Naive came in 2017 after having spent some time refining there sound with the influential Troy Brady formerly of The Amity Affliction.

Throwing up tunes like This Is War, and The Way We Were, as well as a cover of the hit song by Avril Lavigne Sk8er Boi to endear the crowd a little.

Next cab off the rank was Melbourne’s own Between You And Me. These guys bought the level up several notches with a dynamic energy and super tight performance. The seasoned punksters showed their experience, as they ripped through their set featuring tracks like Friends From 96, Dakota and Move On. Having already pulled a number of tour slots, these guys are young and full of talent so if you haven’t seen them yet be sure you do, you will surely be as impressed as I was.
Stand Atlantic from Sydney are just a class act. Musically on point, they have gathered a following since forming in 2014, with strong performances and numerous big name opening spots. Their current album Skinny Dipping features the single Lavender Bones, and debuted at number 17 on the iTunes charts in October this year, shortly after they signed to Hopeless Records. A super enjoyable set from them as the crowd did start to become restless waiting for Neck Deep.

Neck Deep are no strangers to Oz, with it being a favourite destination of theirs for a number of years. The UK natives in their final show of the tour, promise to take us on a rollercoaster of sorts and that they surely did. 
Formed in early 2012 when vocalist Ben Barlow and guitarist Lloyd Robert met and posted What Did You Expect online. 
This lead to a chain of events, which in turn saw the band recruit Matt West and Dani Washington, and then sign with the We Are Triumphant label. They released their EP, Rain In July, in September 2012, and by December 2012, made their live debut. In February 2013 they got their first UK support tour and released their second EP. Such was the excitement surrounding these guys, that a video of their live performance prompted a signing to Hopeless Records. 

Wishful Thinking was their debut album released in 2014, and was backed up with a headlining tour of the UK. Picking up numerous tour spots, supporting some of the best pop punk bands like Knuckle Puck and Trophy Eyes. In an almost constant cycle of recording and touring through 2014 and 2015 also, unfortunately, saw an incident where Lloyd Roberts stepped down from his lead guitar position and he was replaced shortly thereafter by Sam Bowden.

The Peace And The Panic, Neck Deep’s most recent album, was heavily influenced in its writings by the passing of Ben’s father. This would be in part why we were promised a rollercoaster. 

Opening with the upbeat energy driven Motion Sickness and Gold Steps, the crowd were hugely vocal and were more than ready to lap up the almost tangible electricity. Singing every word, quite impressively I might say, they were faultless right through Smooth Seas Don’t Make Good Sailors, Parachute and a cover song, Torn, once made famous by Natalie Imbruglia.

Taking time to speak to the crowd often, Ben spoke of many topics that mean a lot to him and the band, including mental health life and death. Along the way he spoke with a very high regard to their longtime friend and tour manager, Ian Koletsis, (or Newy as he is affectionately known) as this show would be his last. Then Ben retold stories of how they met, and how much Newy meant to him and the band.

Happy Judgement Day, Kali Ma and What Did You Expect were punched out next, followed by Citizens of Earth, and Don’t Wait.

Ironically, next was the song December – a classic breakup song, being played in December.

And this is where the low of the rollercoaster was, and the mood considerably shifted with Ben openly discussing how the loss of his father affected him as he leads into Candour.

In a night filled with so much raw emotion, Ben’s next anecdote was one that struck a chord and was riddled with a truth lost on this generation. He spoke about how his parents met. Two people in seemingly bad situations took a chance and fell in love, spending the next 40 years together. Ben then spoke of how the pace of life, social media, and other factors seem to have meant that the beauty of getting out and taking chances, meeting people and finding your true love are all but gone. He encouraged people to get out, put down your phones, slow down in life and take chances. For me personally, this was the most poignant part of the whole show with the most positive message. This naturally led into 1970 Sumthin’, which was written about his parents.
In Bloom was next, and being both a crowd and band favourite, it is always a treat to hear and see. Giving us a line about how it was the last song, and then joking about how we knew the drill and obviously there would be an encore. 
The break was exceptionally short and the crowd was ready to give it one last blast of energy to lift the roof as Can’t Kick Up The Roots and Where Do We Go When We Go closed out this amazing set.
And so concluded a pop-punk night of nights, and the crowd appeared both happy and weary on their way out. The near constant high energy is tiring at best! 
Neck Deep were definitely a highlight of my concert year, and to see such a great spread of Aussie talent from right across the country was just a real bonus.

Review Contributed by Jodi Maree

Gallery by Tracie Tee (Brisbane Show)