“I Survived a Pop Punk Concert”

I love when my friends introduce me to their favorite artists. I am always open to listening to new kinds of music. So when my best friend Kylie invited me to see her favorite band State Champs on a Sunday night at the House of Blues Anaheim, I delightedly agreed. State Champs is a pop punk band from Albany, New York and have released three albums and three EPs since forming in 2010. They have five members - Derek Discanio, Tyler Szalkowski, Ryan Scott Graham, Tony Diaz, and Evan Ambrosio. They have a little over 650,000 monthly Spotify listeners.

I went with Kylie and her mom, as well as my two other best friends. When my friends and I arrived at the venue, we were surprised to say the least. Everyone was dressed in black, many with brightly-colored dyed hair. There were a lot of teenagers, many of whom reminded me of people I went to middle school with. I was a little scared. The energy was so high and it would only get higher. The crowd plays such an important role in how the concert runs, as proven by this show.

This concert had three other openers. First was Grayscale, which is a small pop punk band from Philadelphia. (Side note: I had a chance to meet Colin Walsh, the lead singer, and he was very appreciative.) When Grayscale started, a few people started crowd surfing. Grayscale had an energetic presence to them while they were singing such emotional lyrics. To be completely honest, the other two openers were too much for me. One of the bands was literally screaming. They did a cover of “Humble” by Kendrick Lamar, which was extremely entertaining to watch. I refueled during this time.

Finally, State Champs came on. My friends and I made our way to the back end of the general admission floor and we thought we were safe from the mosh pit. We were wrong. Once State Champs hit their first note, the entire crowd went ballistic. I was very close to the mosh pit. People were running around like they were animals in a zoo. Some people were being thrown into the air like cheerleaders in a routine. My friends and I who hadn’t been to this sort of thing before looked at each other in shock. When I was paying attention to the music, I recognized a few of their songs, like “Perfect Score,” “Frozen,” “Our Time to Go,” and their most popular song, “Secrets.” State Champs knows how to get a crowd going. The lead Derek often stood on a platform and raised his hands, which I think helped get the crowd hyped. I saw Kylie in her element crowd surfing to her favorite songs, which I never thought I’d see.

It is hard to review most pop punk bands because the heavy guitars, loud drums, and passionate voices sound the same to me, regardless of the song. However, what stands out to me about State Champs is the fact that their sound is loud, but not to the point of feeling like I’m being screamed at. They have the kind of head-banging, catchy tunes that you’d blast with your friends on a long car drive or when you’re frustrated with life. I realized after the concert that I do genuinely like a few catchy State Champs songs. They remind me of my days in my early years of high school when I liked bands like 5 Seconds of Summer, who have a similar pop punk sound. For the most part, “the scene” isn’t for me, and that’s okay! It takes a certain person to mosh, crowd surf, and jump up and down to hardcore music. I appreciate the dedicated and energized fan base. At the end of the night, I had the chance to speak with Tyler, a band member of State Champs. He was a great guy and you could see how much he appreciated the fans. He told me how his favorite concerts were from my two favorite bands, Dan + Shay and The 1975. It really showed me how you can appreciate all different kinds of music even if it is not what you enjoy or listen to. As overwhelmed as I was, I had a fun night being entertained by the wild crowd and hardcore music. I told my friend during the concert “I’m never going to forget this night” and I fully stand by that. Pop punk concerts are a wonder that I hope everyone can check it off their bucket list one day.

Hannah Ackles, Intern

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