Grace Earley

Neck Deep comes to Newport: Live In America 2024

Music Scene Media
Feb 26, 2024
5 min read

On Friday night, pop-punk icons Neck Deep performed at Newport, Kentucky's 2,700-capacity Megacorp Pavillion. You can never go wrong with watching these guys live. I had been a fan of the group for many years and hadn't seen them live since 2018, so I was beyond delighted to belt out some of the most legendary pop-punk favorites.


Higher Power is an English hardcore-punk band that formed in 2014 after brothers Jimmy and Alex began writing music together in London. The band is made up of lead singer Jimmy Wizard, bassist Ethan Wilkinson, drummer Alex Wizard, and guitarists Louis Hardy and Max Harper. Higher Power released their debut self-titled demo tape in February 2015, followed by their freshman LP Soul Structure later the same year. In 2019, the band signed with Roadrunner Records, allowing them to tour with musicians like Knocked Loose and The Amity Affliction. 

Opening with “Rewire (101)," Bloom," an intense track from the 2020 album 27 Miles Underwater, these guys were well prepared to give the night their all from the moment they came on stage. The barrier was full of people who already knew the words, and those who didn't were determined to learn them. The setlist also included “Absolute Bloom," which is the band’s most recent single that has accumulated over 100,000 streams since its release earlier this month.


Bearings, a Canadian pop-punk quartet, were the second act on the talent-packed roster to take the stage. Lead singer Doug Cousins, guitarist Ryan Culligan, bassist Collin Hanes, and drummer Connor Kington met in college and started playing together in 2014. Higher Ground, the group's first EP, was released in 2015, and it led to their first label agreement with Pure Noise Records. Since signing with the label, the band has released three full-length studio albums, the most recent being the 2023 Junior release, The Best Part About Being Human.

The audience was pleased to hear fan favorites like "Eyes Closed”, the third track on the group's debut studio album, and "Scenery", released in 2023. All of the photographers in the pit had been warned about crowd surfing, and with the security guards keeping their word, it started throughout this set. Bearings closed out their portion of the night with the performance of "Sway",  a song that has accumulated over 3 million streams since its release in 2020, and everyone in the room gave it their all until the last second.


Drain, an American hardcore punk band formed in 2014 in Santa Cruz, California, was the last opener to take the stage. The band was founded by drummer Tim Flegal, who was joined by lead vocalist Sammy Ciaramitaro, bassist AJ Hoenings, and guitarist Cody Chavez in 2015 for their debut EP, Overthinking. Drain later signed with Revelation Records in 2019, and their first full-length studio album, California Cursed, was released in 2020. According to the New York Times, the band was one of the main forces behind the American hardcore "Renaissance" of the 2020s.

Sammy is an absolute firecracker of a frontman, and announced to the room first thing that no rules existed during the time that they were on stage. During their first song, “Feel the Pressure”, a crowdsurfer actually leapt up onto the stage with the band, and when he was pulled back down by security, the vocalist actually chased the guards down. I went outside for a moment, ran into a fan who had a tooth busted out in the mosh pit, and went back inside to stand on the balcony and watch more crowd surfers than I have ever seen at one time. Regardless of if this is your taste in music or not, you cannot deny the massive energy that connects this band with the audience. 


Finally, around 9 p.m., it was time for the very anticipated headliner to take the stage. Formed in 2012, pop-punk group Neck Deep came together whenever lead vocalist Ben Barlow was introduced to former guitarist Lloyd Roberts. As a result of the songs that they were posting online gaining attention, bassist Fil Thorpe-Evans, drummer Dani Washington, and guitarist Matt West joined the pair. After the release of their debut album, Wishful Thinking, in 2014, the band became a full-time project for the members, leading to the guys having to quit jobs and/or drop out of school. Now touring for their 2024 self-titled studio release, the dedication of the group has never changed over the past decade. 

Opening with the fifth single off of the band’s most recent album, “Dumbstruck Dumbf**k," the room responded with excited, echoing screams. Whoever put together this setlist did an absolutely incredible job, putting together a string of bangers such as “Kali Ma,"  “Motion Sickness,"  and "Lowlife." I love seeing Neck Deep perform, and hearing all of these songs live again just reminded me to take every chance I get to see them. I have to put a special word in here for Dani, as he is seriously one of the best drummers I have ever seen. As the night closed out with a fan favorite, “In Bloom,"  I knew that each and every single person there had one of the best nights of their entire lives.

Unfortunately, this awesome tour has come to an end. While you keep an eye out for  more of Neck Deep’s tour dates, make sure to stream their most recent self titled studio album release. As always, you guys, I swear to god you saved me.

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