This time 12 months ago, Neck Deep were a totally different band than they are today. They had just released their debut album, Wishful Thinking, and was the first band on in this room while We Are The In Crowd headlined. One year later, Neck Deep play only their second ever show in Birmingham and were the headliner of their wrestling based Intercontinental Championship Tour.
With all bands on the bill hailing from different parts of the world, it was Canada’s turn to open the show with Seaway [8/10]. Like the other support acts, this was their first ever show in England (the first night of the tour was in Wales) however as the crowd filtered through the doors, the bands infectious brand of fun pop punk quickly captivated people. With the release of a handful of EPs and splits, as well as a debut album, Seaway made sure that they bought their A game tonight. Tracks like ‘My Best Friend’ and ‘Keep Your Stick On The Ice’ were greeted with cheers from fans both new and old. The biggest reactions of their set was reserved for (the awesomely named) ‘Sabrina the Teenage Bitch’ and ‘Shy Guys’ and demonstrated that Seaway have a bright future ahead of them.
To follow the wrestling theme, each band where announced on stage and had entrance music. Originating from Australia Trophy Eyes  took to the stage as the thunderous start of AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ built to a crescendo. Opening with ‘May 24th’ and ‘ Band Aid’ off of their EP Everything Goes Away saw Trophy Eyes bring their own unique brand of aggressive melodic hardcore crossed with pop punk to the stage. While the die-hard Trophy Eyes fans had managed to get to front and were going crazy for the tracks, the majority of the venue watched a band who were struggling to win over new fans.
After touring extensively in the states with Neck Deep last year, it was exciting to see Knuckle Puck  finally come to the UK. Chicago has always been a hotbed for fantastic music, in particular in Pop Punk, and Knuckle Puck are one of the leading lights in the current Chicago music scene. Opening with ‘Your Back Porch’ off of their EP The Weight That You Buried, the band came to stage packed with energy as the crowd greeted them in a way that very few bands get for a first show in a new city. Tracks such as ‘Gold Rush’ and ‘No Good’ saw huge amounts of sing-alongs and finger pointing as the relief of finally getting to see them after a long wait.
Neck Deep  are a very dissuasive band in the current UK Pop Punk scene, some say they are just a rip off of The Story So Far, others hail them as the great UK Pop Punk band that this country has been craving for decades. With only an album and 2 EPs worth of material to draw from, Neck Deep had a colossal task of closing this show and demonstrating why some claim they are the future of the genre. Opening with ‘Losing Teeth’ quickly followed by ‘Tables Turned’ saw Neck Deep blast out of the blocks as the heavily partisan crowd erupt into a tidal wave of crowd surfers. However with over an hour to fill with songs, Neck Deep struggled with the quality of material, tracks such as ‘Mileage’, ‘Sweet Nothings’ and ‘Say What You Want’ would not have been missed if they hadn’t been played. While the band constantly talked about their excitement over finishing the recording of album number 2, sadly there was a lack of new material performed tonight. It was this break from touring has done wonders for the band, frontman Ben Barlow’s voice sounded better live than ever before, and musically the band sounded tighter than they had earlier on in their careers. While Wishful Thinking saw Neck Deep expand their musical style and move away from the constant Story So Far comparisons that hampered them in the beginning, it was the earlier material that saw the biggest reactions of the night from the crowd with tracks like ‘Over and Over’ and ‘What Did You Expect?’ If there was any previous doubt about whether Neck Deep are the future of UK Pop Punk, as the opening chords of ‘A Part Of Me’ rung out in the venue, those doubters disappeared. It felt like a crowning moment for Neck Deep when a sold out room sang back every word of ‘A Part Of Me’ back to them. That should have ended the show, as it drained the crowd of nearly all its energy and hence when the encore of ‘Candor’ was being performed, as well as a couple of other songs at the end of the set, most people had lost interest or were simply too tired to enjoy it fully. Overall this tour showcased how fantastic the current Pop Punk scene is around the globe. With bands like Neck Deep and Seaway, there is a bright future ahead for the genre.