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Despite repeated attempts on its life, by journalists and musicians alike, pop-punk isn’t dead. In fact the genre is alive and kicking and arguably in better health than ever, a fact that was made abundantly clear by new school heavyweights The Story So Far and Man Overboard at the first of two Melbourne shows on Thursday night.
Supported superbly by local pop-punk/shoegaze genre mashers Harbours and Sydney hardcore studs Relentless, who both delivered impassioned sets that found significant favour with early arrivals (of which there were many), Man Overboard and The Story So Far ensured that Arrow on Swanston was a mass of sweat drenched, hyperactive teenagers and teenagers at heart for the duration of the evening.
Two of the biggest acts to emerge from the pop-punk scene in recent times, the bands offer contrasting takes on the genre, with Man Overboard offering a slightly more ’90s emo-influenced counterpoint to The Story So Far’s more melodically abrasive offerings.
Man Overboard hit the stage and the self-proclaimed pop-punk defenders harmony drenched tales of heartbreak and nerdom had everyone in the room singing along at the top of their voices. On record their tunes can come across subdued, but in the live environment they become a dual fronted, three guitar toting pop-punk tour-de-force (both bassist Nick Bruzzese and guitarist Zac Eisenstein handle lead vocal duties) with the likes of Dead End Dreams, Montrose and Real Talk whipping the crowd into a frenzy. A modern update on one of the more revered eras of pop-punk (think The Promise Ring, Saves The Day with an early NFG backbone), the band proves themselves worthy of the hype they’ve built, and it’s easy to see them becoming nostalgic scene stalwarts as their audience ages with them.
The Story So Far are more or less the face of the pop-punk scene today. Having established themselves as a force to be reckoned with across three increasingly successful records, they now sit alongside the likes of The Wonder Years as leaders of the pack. Within seconds of taking the stage it is easy to see why. Commanding attention from the get-go, vocalist Parker Cannon has the crowd eating out the palm of his hand as he leads his bandmates through an energetic, hard-hitting and emotive set of their easy-core leaning, hardcore influenced pop-punk jams.
Drummer Ryan Torf is a beast behind the kit and he and bassist Kelen Capener provide a muscular backdrop that blends perfectly with guitarist William Levy and Kevin Geyer’s wall of riffs, ensuring tunes like Quicksand, Empty Space, Roam and High Regard sound enormous, providing a perfect soundtrack to the constant stream of crowd-surfers making their way across the room. Underlining their punk-credentials by foregoing an encore and instead simply playing their last song, walking off stage and mingling with the crowd, The Story So far played a perfect set of unique, yet ultimately familiar punk-pop, and left even the oldest scenesters in the room satisfied that the pop-punk legacy is in safe hands.
Watch: The Story So Far – Empty Space