State Champs w/ Four Year Strong, Real Friends, Just Friends, and Bearings | Pure Noise Records Tour 2021 | Photos + Review

State Champs and co. Slay The Belasco on the Pure Noise Records Tour

Date: 10-6-21

Venue – The Belasco in Los Angeles, CA

I’ve taken in music like a sponge for as long as I could remember going to shows. Being so open-minded musically, I listen to everything from classical to death metal. However, as a photographer, I’ve photographed a ton more metal than I have other genres. Since shows have come back post lockdown, I really wanted to broaden my horizons and photograph and see bands that have always been on my bucket list. State Champs was one of those bands for me. They have always been on my radar with catchy, high energy, and derived from classic pop-punk. But when running a publication, I have to pick and choose my shows and have typically gone for the heavier metal tours over pop-punk as I know others on the team will cover it instead. With the announcement of the Pure Noise Records Tour, I knew this was finally my chance to see and photograph State Champs, but to once again see Four Year Strong, along with other bands I’ve wanted to see and photograph for years and years, like Real Friends, Just Friends, and Bearings. This showcase of bands from the Pure Noise Records lineup was excellent!

First up was Bearings from Ottawa, Canada. The quintet can be best described as the perfect blend between pop-punk and alternative. They opened up the set with “Better Off Yesterday,” which acts as somewhat of a title track off their newest album, “Hello, It’s You,” released in 2020 via Pure Noise Records. Off the bat, vocalist Dougie Cousins took command of that stage, belting out those words in tune with the major key. A staple element to any pop-punk band is that most songs are in major keys, which is a massive change-up compared to the metal I typically see and photograph. I’m all here for a change and branching out here. Guitarist Ryan Culligan acts as a backing vocalist, sometimes singing lead parts and adding harmonies that add the extra touch to the band’s songs. The second song in the set was “Aforementioned” from their 2018 release “Blue In The Dark.” This song definitely incorporates some of their indie and alternative influences, and drummer Mike McKerracher was pounding away at his drum kit with a big smile on his face throughout the whole song. Bassist Collin Hanes and guitarist Ryan Fits were grooving along during the third song, in particular, that being “Over Now,” which once again came from their 2020 release. The band just seems to really enjoy what they’re doing, and with the music they create, and you can’t help but vibe and headbang along with them. Bearings was incredibly endearing and had positively infectious energy throughout their six-song set. I cannot wait to see and photograph them again!

SETLIST

  1. Better Yesterday
  2. Aforementioned
  3. Over Now
  4. Dreams
  5. Eyes Closed
  6. Sway

Up next was Just Friends from Dublin, California. The band is best described as “funk rock,” but to me, they are honestly a melting pot of genres. They have a blend of funk-rock, alternative rock, pop-rap, ska, and a slight emo vibe that I LIVE for. They had some technical difficulties at the start of their set. Still, co-lead vocalist Brianda “Brand” Goyos Leon did a good job entertaining the crowd during the downtime. In fact, she was asking us if we had bought anything cool recently, and I held up my hand sanitizer holder, which is a unicorn cat whose horn lights up when a button is pushed. Well, Brand held it up to the crowd and yells “LOOK HOW COOL THIS IS!!” I started dying laughing, and it’s now kind of an inside joke between us, which I now have looped you all in on too! After the band fixed their technical difficulties, they started the set with their song “I Wanna Love You” from their 2018 album “Nothing But Love,” released in 2018 via Pure Noise Records. I love the vocal dynamics between Sam Kless and Brand throughout their set, with Sam providing the rapping and some singing and Brand providing her bluesy tones that really amp everything up. The next song was the band’s most popular single, “Supersonic.” This song gets the crowd dancing. You can see guitarists Brandon Downum and Matt Yankovich, along with bassist Kevin Prochnow, dancing to choreographed moves to the song while playing their instruments. It’s an absolute bop and a half of a song, so much so that I couldn’t help but stop shooting for a second and dance along with them. The band played a total of five songs, each truly showcasing their talent and range as a group. They were an absolute blast to see and photograph, and I would absolutely love the opportunity to do so again!

SETLIST

  1. I Wanna Love You
  2. Supersonic
  3. Fever
  4. Stupid
  5. Sunflower

Real Friends from Tinley Park, Illinois, was up next. Coming fresh off their new EP “Torn In Two,” released in 2021 via Pure Noise Records, the band set out on this tour as their first tour post-lockdown. This new release for the band was a new chapter in a couple of ways. It was their first release under Pure Noise Records, as they were previously signed to Fearless Records before this. The EP was also their first release with vocalist Cody Muraro. The band opened their set with the song “Nervous Wreck” from this new EP, showcasing their new music right off the bat. Cody is incredibly high energy, constantly jumping, hyping up the crowd, and owning every inch of that stage. The band came prepared for this tour, with a simple yet effective lighting set up behind them, adding a lot of contrast between the darkness and light behind them. Guitarist Dave Knox provided his excellent backing vocals and high energy when not being the mic. The band then moved on to “Me First,” from their last release on Fearless Records released in 2018 titled “Composure.” You could just see how happy the members were to be playing again. Drummer Brian Blake was constantly smiling while playing those fast pop-punk beats. Bassist Kyle Fasel held down the rhythm section with Brian, strumming those deep bass tones that bring the band’s sound to the next level. The band then moved on to the song “I Don’t Love You Anymore,” which came from their 2014 album released via Fearless Records titled “Maybe This Place Is The Same, And We’re Just Changing.” This is where I really honed in on rhythm guitarist Eric Haines, who strummed his parts with precision and seemed ecstatic to be performing again. To finally see these guys after many years of listening to them brought me a ton of excitement. Their pop-punk meets emo sound makes their sound both current and new yet feels like an homage to the music that has come in the scene before their emergence. Their nine-song set did a beautiful job of showcasing songs from each release, including two off the new EP. I cannot wait to see and photograph them the next time they come out here. If this new EP shows a glimmer of what’s to come for the band, there’s no stopping this band!

SETLIST

  1. Nervous Wreck
  2. Me First
  3. I Don’t Love You Anymore
  4. Late Nights In My Car
  5. Storyteller
  6. I’ve Given Up On You
  7. Get By
  8. Mess
  9. From The Outside

Four Year Strong from Worcester, Massachusetts, was up next to the stage as direct support. As one of the pioneers of the easycore genre, Four Year Strong blends Pop Punk with elements of Post Hardcore. Think of it like pop-punk with breakdowns. These guys were by far the heaviest band on this lineup. I previously saw them at the Rockstar Disrupt Fest back in 2019, and they didn’t have much energy on stage that day I saw them. When I tell you these guys blew my expectations out of the water this time around would be an understatement. The band opened their set with the song “Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die” from their 2007 album “Rise or Die Trying,” released via I Surrender Records. The band showcased their insane light show from the gate, something they did not have when performing at the outdoor music festival I last saw them at. The light show the band had with them was fast-paced, just like the band themselves are. Four Year Strong has a unique dynamic, with two co-lead vocalists who both play guitar for the band, Alan Day and Dan O’Connor. This dynamic of their vocals going back and forth add a lot of energy and superb dynamics to their music. The band then moved on to their second song being “Get Out Of My Head,” from their 2020 album “Brain Pain,” released via Pure Noise Records. Brain Pain is by far my favorite album by Four Year Strong, as it truly showcases the perfect blend of the band’s sound. Get Out Of My Head is a more pop-punk heavy song with lots of punchy energy. There’s a deep bass groove heard throughout the song, which is provided by bassist Joe Weiss. Joe is an energetic bassist, constantly moving about and engaging with the audience. They then moved on to their third song, “It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now,” from their 2010 album “Enemy of the World,” released via Universal Motown Records. I honed in on drummer Jake Massucco during this song, and that dude RIPS it on drums. As I said, Four Year Strong’s vocals are incredibly fast-paced, and Jake really keeps up with those fast songs, laying out the foundation needed in this kind of music. I am beyond stoked to have seen Four Year Strong again and am stoked that they blew my expectations out of the water! They absolutely killed it throughout their entire nine-song set, and I cannot wait to see them again next time they come through Southern California!

SETLIST

  1. Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die
  2. Get Out Of My Head
  3. It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now
  4. Learn To Love The Lie
  5. We All Float Down Here
  6. Brain Pain
  7. Go Down In History
  8. Talking Myself In Circles
  9. Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)

Finally, State Champs from Albany, New York, hit the state to absolutely slay the house down! State Champs have been on a steady rise in popularity within the pop-punk and alternative music scenes, starting with their EP “Overslept,” released in 2012 via Pure Noise Records. The band prepared a lengthy sixteen-song set for their headlining set on tour, showcasing songs from each release, starting with “Secrets” from their 2015 album “Around The World And Back.” The band came out the gate with insanely high energy. Vocalist Derek DiScanio had the crowd practically eating out of the palm of his hand the second he came on stage, with crowd surfers galore coming over the barricade throughout my time photographing the set. Like Four Year Strong and Real Friends, the band brought an extensive amount of lighting equipment that made the set feel larger than life and bright as all hell. Guitarist Tyler Szalkowski jumped onto the platform at the start of the set, amping the crowd up. Between the first song, “Secrets,” and the second song, “Crystal Ball,” a fan threw their underwear onto the stage, which landed right in front of bassist Ryan Scott Graham. With a visibly shocked face, Ryan picked up the underwear and put them on his’ mic stand as they proceeded to play “Crystal Ball” from the band’s 2018 album “Living Proof.” This song had bright blue and pink backlighting, which shined bright and vibrant. This is where I saw touring guitarist and backing vocalist Cameron Hurley, who absolutely kills it on stage with the band and meshes right in with their easy-going energy and vibe. The band then went into the song “Frozen,” coming from “Living Proof.” Drummer Evan Ambrosio seemed to be right on par with the rest of the drummers we’ve seen tonight, joyful with lots of smiles and absolutely DOMINATING that stage with his’ beats. The band’s incredibly high energy was evident, and they absolutely did not disappoint. The crowd was heavily engaged, and the band had the most crowdsurfers for any band thus far in the night. During “Frozen,” so many crowd surfers were coming over the barricade that we photographers got kicked out of the photo pit half a song early. I was a bit disappointed, but I got all the shots I needed and got to be up close and personal with a band I’ve wanted to see and photograph for many years at this point. The rest of the set consisted of songs from the band’s releases, a couple of covers, and lots of CO2 cannons shooting out confetti. It was a wild set that I am grateful I was able to witness and capture!

SETLIST

  1. Secrets
  2. Crystal Ball
  3. Frozen
  4. Outta My Head
  5. Mine Is Gold
  6. Easy Enough
  7. Stitches (Shawn Mendes Cover
  8. Chicago Is So Two Years Ago (Fall Out Boy Cover)
  9. Criminal
  10. Just Sound
  11. Remedy
  12. Slow Burn
  13. Losing Myself
  14. Elevated

ENCORE

15. All You Are Is History

16. Dead And Gone

The Pure Noise Records Tour 2021 was an absolute blast. Filled with years of nostalgia and bucket list bands I’ve wanted to see and photograph for quite some time, this made for an exciting evening. Make sure to catch the tour on the east coast during the last few dates if you are nearby!

State Champs | Four Year Strong | Real Friends | Just Friends | Bearings

Photos + Review courtesy of Jamie Kaufman | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

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