Neck Deep

Fuck Neck Deep mate, they’re shit.

Sorry. I was struggling with how to start this so I went with the overly obvious, cliche opening sentence. I’ll probably regret it later but let’s just go with it for now. We’ve established what this post will be about and that’s the main thing.

So, not only did I get to see Neck Deep live but I also got to meet them through their Soundcheck Club package. I tend to be really fussy with VIP as there’s times when the price isn’t worth what’s being offered but £30 for soundcheck, a Q&A, signing, photo and early entry?  I’m down. In the soundcheck they played three songs that weren’t in the setlist; Threat Level MidnightLosing Teeth and Serpents, and answered three questions inbetween each song (9 questions between 159 people…a bit of a stretch but ok). This was then followed by the signing and photo. We were allowed to have one item signed each so I bought their cover of Rock Sound which I think they had a little bit too much fun with doodling all over it. I mean:

Unfortunately for the photo everybody was rushed so I didn’t get a chance to properly say hi to them but we got this pretty cute picture:

Now onto the show: the support acts for tonight were Woes, Real Friends and As It Is. I hadn’t heard of Scottish pop-punk band, Woes, before but within 30 seconds of them playing the first song I was already onboard, there was not one dull moment during their set with the main highlights being their minute cover of Smash Mouth’s All Star, and then Real Friends, As It Is and Neck Deep coming out to celebrate the lead vocalist’s birthday (I couldn’t find your name I’m so sorry!). Next up was Real Friends. I had listened to them a bit before, mainly their more well known songs like Mess and I’ve Given Up On You so I wanted to use this opportunity to check them out properly and I was certainly not disappointed. I need to say that Dan Lambton is an adorable, talented bean. I know that sounds weird/stupid but I love watching people who are genuinely having the time of their life performing onstage and are so incredibly happy, it’s so wonderful to watch. Final support act of the night, As It Is, were also good tonight although not the best that I had seen them. Their guitarist, Andy Westhead, has recently left the band (depending on who you ask), so I don’t know if it was the fact that he was no longer in the band that made them lack the spark they usually have or that it simply not their best night?

I need to give a huge shoutout and thank you to Neck Deep for doing this. The Peace and The Panic tour had been sponsored by Hope For The Day and before the show started they had a spokesperson come out and give a speech about mental health. They said that “it’s okay not to be okay”, that’s it’s good to speak out and get help, and promised that things will get better. They also told us where to go to get leaflets with advice and stories from the bands on this tour of how they dealt with mental health issues. Loads of people like to attack Neck Deep, whether you are a fan of their music or not is up to you, but you need to seriously commend them for this. That speech given out each night of this tour would have helped someone and in the process saved their life. Thank you.

And now for the main event. Last time Neck Deep was on tour they were playing small, independent venues and now here they were playing o2 Academy level venues. Could a pop-punk band from Wrexham be able to pull off a larger scale show in a 2,000 capacity room? Fuck yes they can.

Hiding behind and then being revealed by a large white sheet, they went straight into one of the two lead singles from their newest album, The Peace and the PanicHappy Judgement Day, followed immediately by Lime St.

The use of larger venues has now given them the opportunity to have a larger production and, well, holy shit it was incredible visually. “Last tour we had pretend flames onstage that we thought looked cool but actually looked a bit shit,” laughed frontman, Ben Barlow. “But now we’ve got real flames!”

The setlist consisted of the majority of their songs from their newest album like Motion SicknessParachute and The Grand Delusion, while still remaining loyal to their previous albums and playing classics like What Did You ExpectCitizens of Earth and Kali Ma. It’s not a Neck Deep show without the non-stop sea of crowdsurfers and Manchester certainly did not disappoint.

It’s also not a Neck Deep show without a little acoustic session; Head To The GroundWish You Were Here (not a dry eye in the room) and, of course, A Part Of Me.

The encore for tonight was Can’t Kick Up The Roots and appropriately ended with Where Do We Go When We Go, cue the large stream of confetti. An appropriate ending for a mind-blowing night.

Neck Deep never fail to impress me with their live shows and now that I’ve seen them a large scale show with a huge production value I do wonder where they could go from here. I’ll tell you. They’re only going to get bigger and better.

Well I did start this with something cliche so I may as well end it with something cliche.


Waterparks UK Tour

Around two weeks ago I started one of the best weeks of my life. Previously the most I had seen a band on tour had been about four times and that was strictly to cities that were about an hour or two away from me (All Time Low if any you happen to remember), but this time round I was going five dates and it was mixed between the city I lived in, a city an hour away from me and three cities that were up to 3+ hours away. Now my sister has actually followed this tour and went to eight out of nine dates so I’m not on the same level as her but this was still a completely new experience to me. And it was one of the best experiences of my life.

Here’s my account of seeing Waterparks five times.

I began my what would soon become daily 3am starts by getting on a 5am coach to Nottingham and, if I’m honest, I didn’t have the best start once I had arrived as the taxi I got told me that they couldn’t take me the usual way to the venue due to bad traffic so would drop me off two streets away and direct me where to go.
“Just walk towards the pink building.”
….Well I’m going to get lost, thanks anyway. Luckily when I had crossed the road to the side where this pink building was I was immediately greeted by two fans.
“Thank god, another Waterparks fan! We don’t know where to queue up.”
Typically not the first sentence you’d expect to hear from someone who you just met but it was the beginning of what would be an amazing friendship and the start of great memories from that week. That day allowed me to meet several people who I had been following/talking to on Twitter for a while, in fact that week I met a lot of my favourite mutuals on Twitter, something that may have never have happened if it wasn’t for this tour.
I feel like now I need to move on to the actual event itself or I will be going for ages about the discussions and dramas of queuing up and I very much doubt anyone cares about that.
There were two very different support acts on this tour; London-based pop-punk band The Bottom Line and alt pop-rock Chapel from Georgia. I had seen The Bottom Line support Simple Plan last year, the ones who took the strongest shot of alcohol onstage, and was excited to see them again. Their set was just equally loud and out there as before, especially with their punk-rock intro of God Save The Queen that reminded me somewhat of The Sex Pistols and Cal repeating events of crowd-surfing. Now that their new single, I Still Hate You, is now out (buy now on iTunes ;)) I look forward to hopefully seeing them again (I believe that the tour might be happening in January).
If I’m honest I didn’t expect to enjoy Chapel as much as I had, I mean had no idea what to expect to begin with but I was convinced that I would end up enjoying The Bottom Line more…boy was I wrong and I’m fucking glad I was wrong. Chapel were simply fantastic. The duo had amazing star quality that stops you from looking away. Just incredible, please listen to them. Start out with Caught Up and then get back to me.
And now for our main headliners. The same band who had once said “oh we’re not good enough to tour the UK” but were now on a sell-out headline tour. Opening with fan favourite Plum Island and then going straight into their breakout single Crave, it was sign of what the forthcoming setlist would include; nothing but the best of their newest, oldest, popular and, for some people, lesser known tracks like HawaiiMad All The TimeSilverNo Capes and Dizzy. It had been a while since I had last seen them and this just reminded me of how fantastic (no pun intended) they are live and how much I had dearly missed them. The only thing that I could complain about was the slight lack of crowd interaction due to how no one seemed to be asking them random questions that tends to lead on to their sometimes questionably odd banter. The main highlight was when my sister gave Awsten a small cardboard cut-out of himself that soon became a regular occurrence on the tour. *Sigh*, Baby Awsten, you are an icon.
The encore of the night was I’m a Natural Blue that many of us had originally believed had been “killed off” so it was great that were now bringing it back as it’s simply fucking amazing live. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy hearing; “Break me cause JUMP JUMP JUMP” at a show?
After the show we were able to meet Kortney Grinwis from Chapel. I cannot stress how much of a sweetheart she is, she became one the main reasons I looked forward to each show as it felt like I was reuniting with an old friend each time I met her (and Carter, but I didn’t meet him at Nottingham so that’s why he’s not mentioned).
We also able to meet Waterparks afterwards but before I talk about that I feel like I need to do an important PSA.

PSA: There is nothing wrong with meeting your favourite band/singer/actor/celebrity etc. I get the excitement of meeting one of your favourite bands, I really do, I still get really happy whenever I’ve meet Parx, so when someone gets to meet them for the first time I’m pleased for them. What I’m about to say is not me being “entitled” or “rude” because I’ve met them before. 
What I’m not OK with is people mobbing/crowding around them, backing them into walls/cars, making them uncomfortable by asking personal questions or calling them “Daddy” (I wish I was joking), screaming in their faces, or running after them when they arrive at venues or following them into buildings. Basically if you have no respect for their personal space or them as people then I have an issue. I have an issue with anyone that’s done this with any band/singer/actor etc., not just Waterparks. Don’t treat them like caged animals. This happened several times at some of the dates I went to, with Nottingham and Birmingham being the worst. 
If this keeps happening then they will stop meeting people altogether, this has happened with other bands before and it ruins it for other people. Please be respectful with anyone you meet or you’ll find that you won’t be able to meet them again the future. 
Also don’t fucking cut people off when they’re in the middle of talking them. Be patient, you’ll get to talk to them. Don’t be a dick.
And now back to our regular programming.

Whenever I’ve met Waterparks they have always been lovely and chilled and this tour was no different. I mentioned to them that I had got up at 3am for them and they were in disbelief and were asking me why and if I was ok (no, but thanks for asking haha). It was also there that I found out that Geoff knows who I am when he said “It’s great to see you again”, so that was a nice surprise. Overall, a great start to the tour.

We didn’t have as much as an early start this time round but we still had a long journey to make. I don’t want to keep repeating myself about what the performances from both Parx and their support acts were like, as they were brilliant each time, so I’m just going to focus on different highlights and stand-out moments from each date I went to.
While it was lovely to be reunited with friends in the queue, it wasn’t lovely to have a disaster with the queue. Basically: when my sister, friend and I arrived at the venue everyone was queued on one side, number system going and everything, at about 11am/12pm. About 3/4pm security made us move to the other side of the doors (everyone was originally on the left hand side but we were made to go to the right hand side, just to clear up any confusion.) At that point there were other people who had started queuing on the right so we were made to run to the end of the queue, so, as there were people who had been since 7am and had a number system, we knew that this wasn’t fair and spoke to security who thankfully agreed to let us go to the front as long as we organised ourselves. So massive thank you to the security at Newcastle o2 Academy for helping us out. And also a fuck you to the person who tried to have a go at us for this.
Both support acts were just as energetic as the previous night, with a change in The Bottom Line’s intro now being changed to the Star Wars theme. Waterparks were also as energetic with there being more crowd participation where more people now had the courage to shout random bullshit at Awsten. There was also an added song to the setlist! Little Violence!…Well, a half-assed version of it just to shut people up who were shouting song requests, but it’ll do.
I wasn’t able to meet Waterparks this time due to the time my coach left but I was able to meet Chapel (both members this time!) who were genuinely pleased to hear that people were enjoying their set. At this point the tour’s line-up each night was making me more and more happy so I looked forward to seeing The Bottom Line and Chapel each night. (Please tour the UK, I miss you all already.)

The most iconic date boi…I hate myself for the fact that that sentence even came into my head. This date was the earliest that we had queued, 4:30 am. No regrets.
The venue tonight was The Key Club which was the most up close and personal show on the tour…and sweatiest. I’m not exaggerating, the humidity in the room rose up and then once condensed dripped back down on us. It was fucking grim but anyway.
Point is that if you’re at the front the band is less than an arms length away. I mean look at this video I got:

Yes… THEY FUCKING ADDED 21 QUESTIONS. AT LONG FUCKING LAST. Leeds had hands down the best setlist of the tour.
However, the night didn’t end on a good note. Without giving away too much there was some words said towards my sister that left her feeling upset, and The Bottom Line and Chapel noticed. I just want to take the time to thank them for looking out for her and trying to cheer her up. I also want to thank Awsten who, despite being told by their tour manager that he needed to go, went over to her after one of our friends told him she was upset and didn’t leave until she was happy. Thank Awsten, you may be annoying at times, but you’re a kind-hearted person.

Have you ever had it where your alarm doesn’t go off? Have you ever had it that your alarm doesn’t go off AND you have a train to get? Have you ever had it where you wake up at the time the train is meant to leave? I think you can guess how my morning went.
Luckily trains to Manchester leave every half an hour or so we were able to get into Manchester only an hour and half later from when we were originally meant to arrive.
I’m so conscious of the fact that as I talk through each date the sections are getting shorter, but I am trying to avoid repeating myself as The Bottom Line, Chapel and Waterparks were fantastic each time so I want to focus on stand-out moments from each show.
The main highlight of Manchester is when Carter from Chapel duetted with Waterparks on their song Gloom Boys which was an unexpected bonus of the night and a last minute decision according to Carter when I met them afterwards.

Name a more iconic duo, I’ll wait

There was also a notable change with the setlist, while Waterparks had now added 21 Questions to as seen in Leeds the night before, they were now playing it as part of the encore and had taken I’m A Natural Blue off :)….WHY.
Other stand out moments included catching Otto’s drumstick and being also able to meet Geoff after the show, where I was still shocked at the fact that he knows who I am. He was also happy for me when I told him that I caught Otto’s drumstick.

My last show. I had warned Geoff in Manchester that it would be an emotional day and, well, I wasn’t wrong. Not only would it be the last time I see them (for now…hopefully) it would be the last day of seeing my friends for a while, the friends I had met through this band and through this tour. There was a lot of crying.
And what an amazing last show it was. Even though I knew that it was my last date I was so happy the whole time, I was tired from having to get a 5am coach and knew that I would be stuck in Birmingham until 3am but I didn’t care. Going to gigs makes me so happy, it’s where I can forget about the bullshit going on around me and escape for a few hours.
After a final meeting with The Bottom Line and Chapel (who have said that I can interview them in the future on my news site, cheeky plug in – check out my music news site that I’ve made as part of my final year at university), we went round to the backstage door in hopes to say goodbye to Waterparks. Geoff came out first (btw, a massive fuck you to the person who said “oh, it’s only Geoff”) followed a little while later by Awsten complete with mask due to illness.
I had wanted to thank them for everything over the past five shows, for allowing me to meet so many people and getting me out of my comfort zone by letting me visit cities that I’ve never been to before, and for them always being kind to me whenever I’ve met them. Both of them were genuinely happy to hear this (with Awsten using sign language to help create a reply).

Following this band on tour has been amazing and I am so grateful for everything I have experienced and for everyone I met. I hope I get to do this again soon. Until next time.