Friday night was the coldest night since the beginning of January – the wind-eating-your-face kind of cold – yet people were still wrapped around the corner of the Playstation Theater waiting to get in to party with Neck Deep.
Inside, the sold out crowd pushed themselves against the barricade – some of the earliest audience members getting there at 3pm. As the music started so did the sweating as people ran around the circle pit, threw their bodies on top of strangers and crowd surfed their way up to the front of the venue.
The night started off with a literal warm-up set from Speak Low if You Speak Love – the solo project of State Champs bassist, Ryan Scott Graham. This was Speak Low’s first New York City show. Their set definitely made my inner emo child scream with delight as Ryan sang about love, inner demons and anxiety. “Knots” is a cute fan favorite about desired loved that brought me back to bands I listened to in high school. Oh nostalgia.
Theatrical-punk band Creeper broke out onto the stage next, clad in black, chains, eye liner and lipstick. The UK based band released their debut album Eternity, In Your Arms early last year to an excited home base and is now taking their show overseas to wow the crowds in the US. Between vocalist Will Gould’s dark long hair swinging in his face as keeled over the mic and guitarist Ian Miles’ bleached black lips creating a perfect circle as he screamed, there were so many photo ops that had to be captured. The band ended on fan favorite, “Misery,” leaving the crowd wanting more.
As Creeper left the stage so did the darkness as Toronto-based band, Seaway’s beach like vibes took over. Going with the theme of their late 2017 release, Vacation, lead singer, Ryan Locke, wore a floral blazer and sunglasses, an outfit that I would expect an LA based band member to where. They definitely brought the party throughout their set playing mostly songs off of Vacation. Their sound reminded me of a band I used to listen to when I was a teenager, Patent Pending, and their energy just brought me back to those times.
A white sheet curtained the stage as the crew set up for the main event: Neck Deep. As “Happy Judgement Day” began, the all you saw where shadows running around behind the sheet, heightening the anticipation. As the sheet dropped the crowd absolutely lost their shit and the crowd surfing instantly began.
Lead vocalist Ben Barlow completely tore the stage apart as he ran from upstage to downstage, screaming spit onto his mic. It was this exact energy that I was so excited to capture. They encouraged crowd surfing and even got the audience to create the biggest circle pit they had ever seen. While singing what Ben described as their most meaningful song, “In Bloom,” he almost forgot the words because he “was grooving so much.”
Though they were wild and crazy most of the night, they did have a quite moment for a couple songs. Ben played an acoustic solo of “Head to the Ground,” a song that he explains he wrote about his girlfriend – who was standing in the wings that night – 5 years ago in his bedroom. Bassist Fil Thorpe-Evans came out and joined Ben as they performed “Wish You Were Here,” in honor of all the friends they lost as well as Ben’s dad who passed away in late 2016.
They ended on head banger “Where Do We Go When We Go,” getting everyone to sweat just a little more before going home. As the crowd exited in the building, spilling out a sea of people into Times Square, the bitter cold was a brief but welcomed sensation after the sweaty shenanigans that happened inside.
Article: Merissa Blitz