Now firmly established as part of pop punk’s old guard, New Found Glory continue their seemingly never-ending tour by bringing the infamous Pop Punk’s Not Dead event to the UK. Joined by a stellar undercard that would get any pop punk fan giddy, we were there to see what happened during the final show of their UK tour…
The Irish can hold their own
You almost feel sorry for any band opening a five-band bill with doors opening at 6pm, but Dublin’s Only Rivals make the most of their time slot as the venue slowly fills up. Their driving altrock melodies on big songs like Drive easily win over any doubters in the crowd and they don’t look out of place on such a vast stage. Still yet to release a full length album, it’s easy to see them working their way up bills like this rather quickly in the future.
Candy Hearts are a breath of fresh air
Why has no one brought Candy Hearts over to the UK before this tour? The NY/NJ quartet are so effervescent that it’s hard not to smile for the entirety of their set. Light-hearted, honest, fun and fronted by the charismatic, blue-haired Mariel Loveland, Candy Hearts’ power pop/rock is reminiscent of 90s teen film soundtracks and is a stark contrast to the riff-heavy pop punk of their contemporaries – one that’s entirely welcomed by the crowd tonight.
The new breed are killing it
Without question, State Champs and The Story So Far have been massively influenced by the evening’s headliners. Hell, TSSF are even named after a New Found Glory song. With that being the case, it’s good to see both bands absolutely smash it in front of baying audiences who already know every word to every song.
The younger of the two, New York’s State Champs released such a solid debut last year in the form of The Finer Things that they’ve been catapulted right to the forefront of the pop punk scene. After a blinding performance at this year’s Slam Dunk, the group don’t disappoint in the slightest here with front man Derek Discanio even clambering into the audience for the finale of Elevated.
After a solid set on one of the UK’s biggest stages at Reading and Leeds this year, The Story So Far are finally beginning look comfortable in their own skin. They’ve worked their way up from the toilet circuit to the big leagues and by the time album number three hits, they should be headlining venues this size themselves. The sing-alongs on Quicksand and Daughters are monumental and a surprise re-appearance from State Champs’ Discanio for Roam adds another element to a song that’s already a huge crowd favourite.
There’s no stopping New Found Glory
There may be bigger pop punk bands and there may be younger pop punk bands, but none of them can really hold a candle to New Found Glory. The true modern kings of the genre have barely messed around with the formula that endeared them to so many when Hit Or Miss came out 14 (yes, you’re old) years ago. Sporting a red t-shirt, frontman Jordan Pundik roams the stage like a matador as the audience charges toward the stage – and each other – as soon as Understatement kicks in. From then on, it’s a pop punk masterclass cherry-picked that spans NFG’s discography, with new songs Selfless, Ready & Willing and Resurrection fitting in perfectly. Guitarist Chad Gilbert is the ideal ringleader with his PMA speeches whilst Ian Grushka keeps the bass rumbling and Cyrus Bolooki pounds his kit. They might be older now, but they sure as hell still know how to put on a show.
It’s one thing to round off your set with one of the biggest pop punk anthems of the last 12 years in the form of My Friends Over You. But to bring out Hayley Williams to help join in? Well, that’s just taking the piss. Her mere presence in a venue this size whips up the crowd into a deeper shade of frenzy and turns the crowd into a sea of phones capturing the event. Returning to a quartet, the band end the evening with a four-song encore, climaxing with an almighty All Downhill From Here. From the lip of the stage to the back of the room, there’s not a single person in the room who’s not singing their heart out. The prognosis? It looks like pop punk’s not dead after all, but in the rudest of health.