The Story So Far, Seahaven, Stickup Kid, Troubled Coast, Stateside
July 14 @ Chain Reaction (Anaheim, CA)
I can admit that I haven’t given the new era of pop/punk a fair shake. There are certainly some bands I enjoy, but with the genre severely oversaturated, I tend to write off these bands before one listen. In an effort to expand my horizons, I joined a sold-out Chain Reaction crowd in welcoming The Story So Far to town. I get the appeal now.
I wasn’t immediately won over, though. Opening the package was Stateside, who displayed every complaint I have about the genre. Assuming the tech issues were the venue’s fault, the set was still as sloppy as could be, sounding more like a local opener than someone from the tour package. I was already shaking my head before their inexcusably awful cover of Taking Back Sunday’s “MakeDamnSure,” which inspired not one person to dance. Some of the guitarwork and structuring on “Smokestacks” was intriguing, though until their live show and lead vocals improve, this band will reside in pop/punk purgatory.
The bad taste in my mouth was quickly erased via Troubled Coast. Though their music wasn’t the crowd’s flavor, I rocked out to the night’s heaviest set. The dose of hardcore was the pick-me-up I needed, and each track from their latest EP delivered as expected. The band even gave the crowd a pleasant surprise in two new songs from their upcoming full-length, both of which displayed the rapid evolution Troubled Coast has always shown. Remember their name, because these boys will be headlining their own tours by the end of the year.
The audience showed life for the first time as Stickup Kid took the stage, finally starting my pop/punk lesson. While the breakneck verses customary of the genre just aren’t for me, the tempo shifts in songs like “Dreaming of Kenny Rogers” gave a nice dynamic to their music. What won me over though was the atmosphere they created, engaging with fans as frequently as humanly possible. The fans didn’t disappoint either - though I may (unfairly) question their tastes, pop/punk kids have an undeniable blast and only care to have fun.. And overall, I respected Stickup Kid’s set, even if they’re not my cup of tea.
Small talk and more technical difficulties limited my time watching Seahaven, though I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw. As if his voice and lyrics weren’t commanding enough, frontman Kyle Soto’s look and demeanor sealed the deal. When they did get to play, the set was very solid, complete with great harmonies that really brought the songs to life. “Plague” and “Goodnight” were two of the night’s highlights, and the band certainly earned my respect (as noted through my purchase of Winter Forever on vinyl after the set).
Then came The Story So Far. I wasn’t remotely ready for what I was witnessing. I’ve been to countless sold out shows at Chain Reaction, but I’ve never seen a crowd react with such passion to a band. For the first three songs, I legitimately couldn’t hear one note from Parker Cannon as he lead a pop/punk choir through his songs. Watching hundreds of fans recite back every word while crawling on top of each other was quite the sight. What’s more is the idolization was well-deserved, as TSSF put on one hell of a show. I intentionally avoided listening to the band before the date, and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed their brand of reigned-in pop/punk. The guys were completely in sync and reeked of professionalism while maintaining that lively demeanor that inspires so many music fans. After leaving and throwing Under Soil and Dirt on for the first time, I was immediately nostalgic of an immensely fun night.
So yeah - I get it now. Pop/punk is a good place to be, and I’ll come ‘round more often.