Arriving at Manchester Academy a few minutes after the doors open to collect our passes from the box office, we were a little disappointed to see the first band Woes already performing on stage.
With 4 bands on tonight’s schedule, it felt like none of the bands had any time to freely interact with the crowd. Throughout every song, lead vocalist, David Jess and bass player, Sean Duddy were trying to get the small crowd that had formed warmed up and ready for the rest of the evening. Despite a few issues with the sound quality, the whole band were full of energy during their entire set and they seemed to gain a few new fans. During their final song “Over It”, there was a crowd member sitting on a friend’s shoulders singing along to every word. At the end, Jess shouted “Never change, you’re all fuckin’ perfect!” before he and the rest of the band left the stage.
After a very quick switch over it was time for Australian band Stand Atlantic to take the stage. At this point the venue was probably about a third full, however, it was clear the crowd were slowly getting warmed up as there were cheers as the band took their positions. Lead vocalist, Bonnie Fraser screamed “MANCHESTER! Sing with me!” before they began their first track “Lavender Bones”, during which there was quite a few audience members doing as they were told. The band’s new album “Skinny Dipping” was released the day of the gig and a few songs from it were included in the set. They played the title track, which considering how new the record is, had a lot of the crowd nodding along. It was about this time that the crowd surfers began, and they didn’t stop for the rest of the night. The final song of the set, “Coffee at Midnight”, had most heads nodding with a few people singing along. I think Stand Atlantic too, have some new fans.
Next up were Seaway, who it seemed a lot of the crowd had seen before as the energy in the room definitely lifted. With a bit more experience behind them than the previous bands, it felt like the bands stage presence was overall more professional. There was a loud cheer when the band took to the stage, especially when lead singer Ryan Locke said “Lets party tonight! Bring it in!” before beginning their set with “Best Mistake”. With endless amounts of energy, Locke didn’t stop moving throughout the entire set, jumping around the stage and dancing with moves similar to dad dancing. After “Apartment”, the band took a very quick pause to ask the crowd, “You like that?!” which gained a huge cheer. Before their last song, Locke said “Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is the last song,” which received some boos from the crowd. He mentioned what a lovely evening its been before beginning “Lula on the Beach”.
After a relatively quick change over, as soon as the lights dropped, and the backing track began there was a huge cheer from the crowd, which had grown in size during the break. As State Champs took to the stage, it looked like the whole room had their phones in the air ready to record the performance. When “Criminal” began, the crowd were instantly dazzled by the pyrotechnics and illuminated banner at the back of the stage. Lead vocalist Derek DiScanio had incredible energy and didn’t stop moving throughout the entire set of a whopping approximately twenty songs. although there wasn’t much time between songs, the crowd were engaged throughout the entirety of the set, singing and bouncing along.
A few songs into the set when “Mine is Gold” began, the sea of crowd surfers seemed to get faster with the same handful of people burning a path through the venue running from the front to the back repeatedly. All I’ll say is that the security definitely earned their money as when I spoke to one of the security staff members after the gig, there were over 200 surfers during the show. DiScanio gave the rest of the band a quick break performing “If I’m Lucky” acoustically by himself. The room lit up with torches for the slower song, however, a group of friends decided to grab the lead singer’s attention by attempting a double shoulder stand. While the rest of the band joined him back on stage, DiScanio said “Thumbs up if you’re still feeling good!” before playing a couple more songs. “All You Are Is History”, being arguably one of the band’s most popular songs, received the biggest reaction yet from the crowd.
Taking a very quick break, the band announced that their first album The Finer Things had just turned 5 years old and how grateful they were of all the support they have received from their fans. The final song of the main set was another hit, “Dead and Gone”, during which I don’t think DiScanio needed to sing with the volume of the crowd, showing that the band’s newer material is just as popular as their older tracks.
After leaving the stage to cheers of “We want more!” the crowd got more than they bargained for when State Champs tour mates Neck Deep gate-crashed the stage for a surprise performance of “Where Do We Go When We Go”, causing the crowd to go wild. When State Champs returned to the stage they explained that they had done a similar thing earlier on in the month when they hijacked a Neck Deep gig in the US.
With State Champs now back in control, DiScanio asked the crowd “Have you had a good Friday thus far? Because the night is still young!” before announcing that “Manchester is one of our favourite cities in the world to play!”. The final song of the night was “Secrets” and the energy both on stage and in the crowd hadn’t wavered throughout the whole set. DiScanio jumped down to the barrier during the song and had to dodge the crowd surfers coming towards him. With a quick “We love you, thank you!” the band left the stage as they were pushing curfew.
Photos by Jack Barker Photography