Words/Photography by: Jeanette LeBlanc

On one of the coldest days of 2016, thus far; Toronto’s pop-punk scene sucked it up and bared the -5 degree (feeling like -20 with the windchill) temperatures and lined up for hours outside of the Opera House, just to snag a warm spot at the front of the stage for the sold-out night ahead.

Neck Deep and co-headliners State Champs were here to take over, with support from Knuckle Puck and Like Pacific. Toronto was the second stop of the 7 week long tour, and all bands brought the heat and riot to the venue.

Openers Like Pacific were no strangers to this city. Hailing from Pickering, ON (just east of Toronto), it came time for them to show their friends and new fans what they had. Opening with their single “Worthless Case” off of their upcoming release Distant Like You Asked (February 19th via Pure Noise Records), fans were stoked and ready to party. It only took seconds for fans to sing along and mosh, as the remainder of the long line-up from outside continued to trickle in.

Vocalist Jordan Black took the time to tell fans about the new album, saying its the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day, right before he said “Here’s a brand new one! You won’t know the words”… Fan’s still cheered and moshed along regardless.

Next, the time came for Chicago pop-punk’s finest, Knuckle Puck. It was more than obvious that majority of the crowd were fans of their music, as they sang along and crowd surfed to every tune.

Vocalist Joe Taylor told Toronto that we are in the bands top 3 favorite cities to play, after we made such a strong impact during their last Vans Warped Tour stop. Their local buds in Seaway even came out to hang side stage. On top of clearly stating their love for Toronto, Knuckle Puck told fans that they also filmed their new music video for “Pretense” in our big ol’ city, and with it having dropped on this day; fans were stoked. (Watch it here).

Finally, after Knuckle Puck continued to raise the energy and positive vibes, the time came for State Champs to take over. With this tour being a co-headline, this stop was a night for Neck Deep to take the lead.

State Champs came out with full hype. The stage and lighting stepped up and so did the crowd as they powered through their set. There was not a moment when fans weren’t singing along, especially when it came time for “throwback” tracks from their first full length studio album The Finer Things, as per request from fans before the tour kicked off.

Vocalist Derek Discano made sure to show his love to the fans while performing. During slower parts, he’d sit down at the front of the stage to serenade the young girls in the front, and he even busted out a solo acoustic tune.

State Champs left fans wanting more, but told us that they will be back to play a show that has yet to be announced. So stay tuned!

Now, after the crowd took a texting/social media break (it’s 2016 and a young crowd), the time came for the highly anticipated Neck Deep to be welcomed to the stage by a “Neck Deep! Neck Deep!” chanting crowd.

The UK band opened up with their new single “Can’t Kick Up The Roots” off of their latest release Life’s Not Out To Get You (2015 via Hopeless Records), followed by an old favorite “Losing Sleep”.

Neck Deep kept the energy up and the  crowd was definitely going bonkers. Vocalist Ben Barlow made sure of that by telling everyone “Remember we feed off you, you feed off us, we feed off you”, implying fans had to keep the energy up to keep the volume up.

Ben also took the time to talk about some of their songs, right before they played “Circles” he told fans how the song was written about a scary video game they were playing, saying “It goes to show that you can write a song about anything”.

Their sound was tight and fans loved every single tune. There was not a moment during the entire night when the crowd wasn’t singing along. If you are a pop-punk fanatic, you were there. If you weren’t there, we’re sorry to tell you that you missed a banger! This is the most pop-punk this city will see in 2016, with the announcement of Vans Warped Tour dodging our city this year.

Like Pacific

Knuckle Puck

State Champs

Neck Deep

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