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20th March 2017

Live: State Champs

Is pop punk dead? Meg Roberts takes a trip down memory lane at the State Champs’ gig

11th March at The Ritz


On the surface, seeing State Champs at Manchester’s Ritz is like smoking your first cigarette in Piccadilly Gardens. It’s waiting outside Urbis for the great unknown whilst Fallowfield mums ask you what the concert is (“No, we just chill here”). It’s jaunty trips to Afflecks after college to stare at the Audio Bam Magera skate shoes , or the Element deck — you need that in your life too — and then going on Tumblr until oh-my-god o’clock reblogging pictures of Oli Sykes and Josh Franceschi. In other words, it’s angsty as hell.

If you’ve ever felt wronged by the world, had an ironic penchant for Tay-bae, and had an emo fringe some ten years ago, then you may be found here. If you want to get down to some honest pop-punk with a large helping of nostalgia, you’ve probably come to the right place too.

Pop-punk is one of those icky, in-between-y genres that promises you that it’s alternative and totally not-like-that-crap they play in the charts, but proudly displays those easy-peasy lyrics and shout-along choruses all the same — and State Champs didn’t really seem significantly different to that.

They weren’t All Time Low or Kids in Glass Houses, and no one in the crowd seemed to be an emo but also a nu-raver at the same time, clad in fingerless neon gloves and shag bands  — memo to 2007 — what was that about? No, you’re not a dinosaur, and free hugs for the irony don’t make much sense any more. I don’t think ‘XD’ is even a thing these days, but ‘lmao’ is definitely making a comeback.

All of these things don’t make as much sense now as you would think, but they sure as hell remind you of it in all of its fist-pumping glory some ten years later. I guess that’s what bands like State Champs mean in 2017 — tinged with all of that nostalgia, but not made up of it. It’s not so evocative that it makes you choke on your ramen and deactivate your Piczo, but I can’t promise that you won’t get a sweat-induced flashback either. Although Tyler Szalkowski with his Slipknot vest and Jim Roots-esque guitar made me smile for sure.

It’s the scene-kid revival for the millennials. I don’t know if my fourteen year-old sister and her contoured classmates will ever be as tragic as I was. The genre isn’t what it used to be: it’s gone, so let’s leave it there where it belongs, along with the rest of the Internet’s dark matter. The nostalgia of times-gone-by feels good when it’s nostalgia, but it just doesn’t feel right in the superficiality of a 2017 aesthetic, or when the material you’re putting out just isn’t that good.

Bands like State Champs, Real Friends and Knuckle Puck aren’t trying to relive those days and neither are their shows. God knows why we’d want them to. They’re re-imagining it, and they are relevant with just enough of the past to make you remember but none of the ‘whoa, whoa, whoa’s’ of ATL. It’s less throwaway.

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