It is nearly impossible to describe the amount of visceral energy that pop punk icons State Champs truly manifest in their music. Featuring churning rhythmic guitars and a driving bass drum, the Albany-based quintet deftly captures the youthful vitality of the re-emerging East Coast pop punk scene.
At the six-hour “State Champs and Friends” show that was part-festival, part-intimate gig and part-variety show, a total of six bands all brought something unique to the table. From Canadian emo band Bearings to a surprise acoustic set from Man Overboard to metal band Homesafe — featuring Ryan Rumchaks of Knuckle Puck fame — the newly renovated White Eagle Hall emitted a plethora of rock subgenres on Sept. 9.
As audience members pushed to the front of the stage, lead vocalist Derek DiScanio addressed the crowd before jumping into “Slow Burn,” a single released earlier this year that appears on the newly-released deluxe edition of the band’s 2015 album, “Around the World and Back.” Featuring perfectly synced rhythm guitars and drums, along with infectious riffs throughout the chorus, “Slow Burn” proved to be the perfect opener to excite the crowd.
DiScanio and company continued the set with “Elevated,” taken from their 2013 album, “The Finer Things,” as fans crowded at the base of the stage. With slightly rougher vocals, DiScanio moved closer to the crowd and offered high-fives to lucky front-row members as bassist Ryan Scott Graham joined the audience in singing the chorus.
The remainder of the set featured tracks highlighted primarily on their 2015 deluxe album, namely singles “Losing Myself” and “All You are Is History,” as well as a few deep cuts from “The Finer Things” such as “Hard to Please” and “Remedy.” The setlist was delicately balanced between the two albums — however, tracks from their debut album were left out entirely.
After the final chords of “Remedy” echoed throughout the venue, the quintet bowed out, only to re-emerge minutes later with DiScanio holding an acoustic guitar and strumming to their 2014 single “If I’m Lucky,” released off “The Acoustic Things.” The crowd’s roar was understandable — the band had not performed the track in two years. Finally, DiScanio dropped his guitar and returned to approach the audience, announcing that the following song would be their last of the night. In unison, the entire band jumped and kicked as the opening chords of “Secrets” resonated throughout the venue. The chorus erupted from the venue, with some verses sung entirely by the crowd.
The atmosphere of the night was absolutely electric, all thanks to the community and camaraderie that the band promotes onstage at every show. Their lack of crowd barricades truly allow the audience to interact with the members, whether it being a simple high-five or screaming the lyrics of songs at each other. For now, one can only hope that State Champs continues to bring such intimate and buoyant performances to audiences around the world.
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