GIG: Seaway, WSTR + The Gospel Youth @ Epic Studios (1/2/17)

2017 is off to a *cool* start, man

Kicking off NMAB’s gig.. well, I hesitate to call them “reviews“, perhaps more like “recollections” or ‘opinionated descriptions’, is also the first concert of the year: Seaway, a Canadian pop punk band I’ve seen multiple times over the last few years, supported by UK pop-punk newcomers WSTR and ‘band to watch’, The Gospel YouthAs the Norwich-based half of NMAB I was at Epic Studios (get used to me saying that) to catch this one.

First up were local(ish) boys Pessimist, but unfortunately I was too busy in the pub and missed this one. I suck. They were dishing out some free copies of The Perfect Thing EP at merch, and said they had a few things planned for April, so hopefully I’ll improve my attendance ratings then. You can go give Pessimist a listen here on Spotify:

The first band I actually managed to catch were The Gospel Youth, who were back at Epic with a point to prove after the long tour with Trash Boat late last year started to take it’s toll. This time, the band delivered, belting out tracks from their Empires EP and a couple of newer tracks. The sound of the 5-piece outfit was tight and professional, and vocalist Sam Little was near impeccable on the night. Though still a relatively small band of under 2,000 followers on Twitter, with further touring a following definitely has potential to develop. The Gospel Youth were made for sing-a-longs and I would happily put money on much bigger crowds singing the words to the gang vocals of “Lighting Fires” than just myself and a few others in a small room in Norwich (this most likely did happen at the show at Camden’s Underworld on the last day of tour). Don’t be surprised to see this band on festival bills like Slam Dunk and 2000 trees this year, and definitely don’t be surprised when you hear them again: listen to this band.

A few more beers down the line, the pop-punk newcomers from Liverpool who are trying to wrestle their way on with the big guns took to the stage, but with a man down. WSTR, or Waster for those who, like me, also prefer a much more even spread of consonants and vowels, came onto the scene in 2015 with a tune that you’d be forgiven for thinking was off the next Neck Deep record. “South Drive” however, from the SKRWD EP, was a belter of a track. A year or so on to get to present day, with more experience under their belt, WSTR released their debut LP last month, titled “Red, Green, or Inbetween”. Mixed reception and comparison to UK pop-punk band Roam‘s debut album in the sense of slight mediocrity made me hesitant of what to expect on the night. Live presence made up for any of the aforementioned perceived indifference, especially considering vocalist Sammy had to sit the show out and guitarist Danny Swift stepped in. Only thing I found slightly odd was how the thick Liverpudlian accent all but disappeared during every song, but hey, I guess that’s just pop punk. A rendition of Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff” certainly peaked my interest and by interest I mean body, and by ‘stuff’ I think we were referring to bones. A close on South Drive was something I also couldn’t resist. Considering circumstance, whether you like them or not, I think the boys did a smashing job.

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WSTR @ Epic Studios. Bottom middle in the check shirt, one NMAB writer.

Last up were the headliners, and this would be the 4th time I caught Seaway playing in Norwich, so we mustn’t be that crap of a place. Last time out, Seaway were supporting Knuckle Puck alongside Boston Manor ,  before that also with Boston Manor was a support slot to This Wild Life and As It Is (also at Epic) and way back in the dark ages with Trophy Eyes, Knuckle Puck and Neck Deep. Last time, however, I found the performance somewhat lackluster, but I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time.

That was immediately forgotten upon opening with the lead track from their latest album Colour Blind, which was “Slam”, and we all jointly yelled ‘that line’:

EVERYTHING IS COOL, MAN!

and resumed from there. The setlist was a great mixture of old tunes for the now very drunk me to get perhaps too excited about it, like Shy Guys and Keep Your Stick on the Ice, as well as plenty of new tunes that although we perhaps didn’t know all the words to, we felt we could enjoy, dance to, and have a good time. Tracks like Best Mistake, Freak, and Goon from the new record got a great reception, with Seaway meeting that perfect balance of performance, audiencing and crowd interaction that a pop-punk show inherently necessitates. Alberta was a personal favourite; vocalist Ryan Locke said “we did a music video for this one the first time we were in the UK”, and I’m pretty sure we’re somewhere in that (It came out a long time ago, alright.) and so drunk me was like ALBERTA IT’S ALBERTA like an excited school child. It was sick nonetheless.

And I think that’s when I realised I knew why I thought they weren’t as good last time. They played after Boston Manor, who don’t get me wrong are one of my favourite bands at the moment, but that was a very angsty set. The same goes for the aforementioned Trash Boat show, it felt like it was a channeling of anger and angst. Seaway reminded me what Pop Punk is all about, what Blink taught us all those years ago: having a bloody great time.

Who cares if you don’t know the words so dance but can’t dance anyway? Who cares if you stage dive immediately when you hear the first note to your favourite song? Who cares if people who clearly are miserable and don’t want to be at the front row are staring at you, judging you for having some fun? Who gives one single inch of a toss? I mean, yeah, looking back, Epic must hate me for constantly stage diving (sorry not sorry), but when Seaway came back on and played Sabrina, The Teenage Bitch, a song they never really play anymore unless they’re having a great time, I realised I was having a great time too. My friend nailed it when he said “That Seaway show has re-kindled my love of Pop Punk”. I think a lot of people felt the same way.

“I used to laugh, but then got old, now I’m just cynical, and everybody knows”

Think that just about wraps this one up. I had a quick chat with Adam Shoji after the show about anything that’s coming up soon in the UK, and we agreed that it’s probably a given we’ll be seeing some familiar names on one Bank Holiday Weekend bill in the early summer. So I’ll probably make that the 5th time. Because I LOVE this band, the sing-a-longs, the stage dives, the atmosphere. It’s a reminder of what Pop Punk is all about.

Feature Photo: Tom Seago 2015 (Seaway @ Epic 2015)

Seaway also feature on our recent playlist. Give it a listen and let us know what your favourite track is!

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