I’ve been moving mountains that I once had to climb

Last Thursday, we attended the Toronto date of the AP World Tour featuring Neck Deep, State Champs, Knuckle Puck, and Like Pacific.

neck deep

I found out about a week before the show that Like Pacific is from Toronto, so that’s pretty cool that they’re opening for some of the biggest names in pop-punk right now. They’re good – more Knuckle Puck than Neck Deep – and I’m happy that Toronto is being represented on this tour!

Next was Knuckle Puck – I’ve seen them a couple of times, and their live shows are really tight. They bring a lot of energy on stage and get the crowd moving whether they’re playing older songs (“Gold Rush”) or singles from their full-length debut last year, Copacetic.

I’ve heard a lot of buzz about State Champs and I even know a couple of their songs, but for some reason, I just can’t get into them! I don’t know why – they have all the elements of other pop-punk bands I love – but I sort of zone out when I’m listening to them. They’re not terrible, and I think I like them live better than recorded (similar to how I feel about As It Is), but they weren’t my favourite part of the night.

Finally, the moment I was waiting for: Neck Deep thundered out to the sounds of “Citizens of Earth” from last year’s stellar Life’s Not Out to Get You. I’ve only seen them play a short set at Warped two years ago, and I LOVE the new album, so I was really excited to see them headline. They made the most of their set and while there was some on stage banter (mostly between lead singer Ben Barlow and bassist Fil Thorpe-Evans), they didn’t talk forever or pause for too long in between songs.

Their set was a great mix of “old” and “new”, including my favourite song, “Kali Ma”, which was as high energy as I’d imagined. I was also thrilled to hear “A Part of Me” which is my 4 year old niece’s current favourite song (I’ll give you one guess who introduced her to it. Spoiler alert: it was me), and I’m thankful that she’s made me sing it to her so many times so that I knew all the words.

Another highlight of the set was the “jazzed up” version of the normally acoustic song, “December”. As pretty as it is when it’s acoustic, it sounded amazing with the full band. I just found out that it was released on the Target deluxe edition of the album, and now I’m even more annoyed that Target failed to take root in Canada.

Overall, it was a great show! Despite the freezing temperature outside, the venue warmed up once everyone started moving. I’m looking forward to the next time Neck Deep heads to North America.

Top Ten Albums of 2015 [+ link to Mind the Gap]

As usual, I’ve made my list of the best albums of the year, including links to any reviews I wrote on them. You can click here for a playlist featuring two of my favourite songs from each release!

top ten of 2015

1) That’s the Spirit – Bring Me the Horizon
2) American Candy – The Maine
3) American Beauty/American Psycho – Fall Out Boy
4) Future Hearts – All Time Low
5) Life’s Not Out to Get You – Neck Deep
6) Blurryface – twenty one pilots
7) Life in Real Time – Paradise Fears
8) Automatic – Don Broco
9) Sounds Good, Feels Good – 5 Seconds of Summer
10) Vikings – New Politics

There was lots of other good albums this year, including Knuckle Puck’s Copacetic, The Wonder Years’ No Closer to Heaven, Young Guns’ Ones and Zeros, Muse’s Drones, We Are Harlot’s self-titled debut, and Nate Ruess’s solo release, Grand Romantic.

What made your list of best albums?

I’ll be the empty canvas if you be the paint

Few things in this world make me feel more pop-punk than listening to Knuckle Puck (except for listening to Neck Deep. Or eating pizza while avoiding a circle pit, which is what I did at Warped).
We’ve seen Knuckle Puck two other times, and I even reviewed their debut album, Copacetic for idobi this summer. When we saw them on Wednesday, it was on their first ever headlining tour, which they decided to kick off in Toronto (this rarely happens, so it’s exciting when it does!).

I felt bad for the first opening band, Head North, because the Blue Jays game was on at the same time and more than half the crowd was watching TV instead of listening to them (it was the game we actually won). The second band, Sorority Noise, was good. Honestly, I can’t really remember what they sounded like (I should have written this review earlier!), but they were sorta emo-meets-pop-punk, I think.

Next up was Seaway. The last time we saw them was when they opened for Bayside in March, and I know I enjoyed them. They’re Canadian (from Oakville!), which is awesome. And they’re super pop-punk, which is also awesome. I liked that they had their new album, Colour Blind, for sale, even though its official release date is this Friday.

Finally, Knuckle Puck came out. One of the best parts of being the first date on a tour is hearing certain songs live before anyone else. This show, they played “Ponder”, “In Your Crosshairs”, and “Untitled” (minus the 8 minute outro, which was good because it was so hot in the venue) live for the first time!

I was also glad they played some of my preferred songs early on in the evening, which got me pumped for the rest of the set, including the single, “Disdain”, and “Your Back Porch”.

Something about the Hard Luck Bar makes me sleepy (probably the extreme heat), so it was occasionally difficult to pay attention to them, but, watching Knuckle Puck go from an opening band to a headliner is really cool. I think they’re really starting to make a their mark in the scene – their friendship with Neck Deep probably doesn’t hurt – and I expect great things from them in the next few years.

If you’re looking for an up-and-coming band who plays unapologetic pop-punk, check out Knuckle Puck!