I was not quite sure what to expect from a 2:30 p.m. matinee show, but the Pure Noise Records tour certainly did not disappoint. The primarily pop-punk lineup of six bands, all signed to the Pure Noise label, attracted a rather young crowd. Despite the unfortunate midday time, the tiny first floor room of The Barbary was packed as I walked in just in time to see the first band, Brigades, from South Carolina, take the stage. Despite the lead singer’s constant urges for people to “get up,” the crowd was relatively unresponsive. This lack of enthusiasm carried through to the next band, Heart to Heart. As the most hardcore band on the tour, Heart to Heart seemed out of place in the heavily female crowd. Although only a few people knew their songs, lead singer Nick Zoppo did not hesitate to leave the stage and resume singing in the pit for the band’s second song, “Mentirosa,” in attempt to amp everyone up. While they put on a great live performance, it was just not what a bunch of teenagers wanted to hear at three in the afternoon.
There was a shift in energy as Front Porch Step, also known as Jake Mcelfresh, came on. His one-man acoustic act is known for his snarling vocals and emotional lyrics that often depict his failed relationships and social anxiety. Known for changing his melodies in live performances, Mcelfresh even incorporated parts of a Blink-182 song into one of his own. Mcelfresh loves to play up the crowd and caters to requests, resulting in him playing his least favorite song, “If I Tremble,” for a fan who claimed it was her wedding song. He followed with “Drown,” which is about the same girl, only this time he sings about how she broke his heart. After his set finished, the room cleared out as fans eagerly rushed to the merchandise tables to snap some photos and talk with the artist.
Quick changes between sets kept the show moving, and after 15 minutes Forever Came Calling was ready to begin. The crowd instantly stood up the second the band opened with “Ides,” and fans (including myself) did not hesitate to join them on stage before jumping back into the crowd. The band played songs off their new album “What Matters Most,” including “Indebted,” as well as old favorites like “The Office.”
As a co-headliner, Handguns had a longer set of about 40 minutes. However, the crowd was relatively unenthusiastic, and singer Taylor Eby failed numerous times to get the energy level he wanted. Their set list was a bit jumbled, with a strange mix of songs off their newest album “Life Lessons” and much older material. The band hoped to get strong reactions from their new songs “Queens,” “Heart vs. Head” and “Highway Robbery,” but instead the crowd seemed to enjoy the oldies, like “I Hope He Kills You” and “A Year in Review.”
Although it was only 6 p.m. when State Champs began their set, the energy in the venue matched that of any nighttime show. From the second the band started playing, fans started climbing on one another to get to the stage before jumping right back into the crowd. They mostly played songs from their first LP, “The Finer Things,” including “Nothing’s Wrong,” “Easy Enough” and “Elevated.” Halfway through their set, lead singer Derek Discanio broke things down to play “If I’m Lucky,” a new track off their latest EP, “The Acoustic Things.” With the venue’s continuous rushing due to having another event scheduled that night, State Champs did not leave the stage for a proper encore. Instead they went right into an acoustic performance of “Stick Around” before ending the night with their most well-known song, “Critical.”
It is rare that a tour features bands all from the same record label, but Pure Noise was able to do just that. The tour proved just how strong their lineup is, and it shows promise for the new generation of pop-punk and its fans. The unique camaraderie between these bands provided a memorable experience, and I believe Mcelfresh summed the tour up well, concluding, “This show was the most fetch show ever.”