State Champs @ Agora 2/12

Lisa Sanchez

Name the most popular pop punk bands you can think of over the last sixteen years. Now, combine them all into one infectiously upbeat five-piece and you have the intriguing State Champs. Formed in 2010, State Champs self-released their first two EPs, and recently released their second full length album, Around the World and Back, in October 2015. State Champs have hit their stride with their sophomore album and are currently co-headlining a world tour with Neck Deep. 

Originally from New York, State Champs is comprised of vocalist Derek DiScanio, guitarists Tyler Szalkowski and Tony Diaz, bassist Ryan Scott Graham (also of Speak Low if You Speak Love), and drummer Evan Ambrosio. Since their inception in 2010 the band has played to packed crowds at Warped Tour and accompanied pop punk heavy hitters Motion City Soundtrack, Bayside, and The Wonder Years across the world.

State Champs' sound has an energy, ferocity, and intimacy that hasn't been presented by a new band in a long time. The band harkens back to the pop punk renaissance of the early 2000s with their confessional lyrics, bouncy rhythms, and approachable style. 

Around the World and Back is packed with sonic songs that immediately get you bopping along against your free will. Upon first listen to the album, I was skeptical about State Champs staying power. But, inevitably, I realized their songs were stuck in my head and I was actually excited to hear the hook-driven "Eyes Closed" or future #1 psych up song "Shape Up" in my musical repertoire. 

While the band stand on their own musical merits, I am consistently reminded of other genre mainstays such as MxPx, All American Rejects, and New Found Glory. Even DiScanio's vocals, while accomplished, invoke a sense of imperfect delivery a la New Found Glory's Jordan Pundik or Buddy Nielsen of Senses Fail. These small traits are what make bands accessible and ultimately bury them in the hearts of their fans.

Although they've got some solid musical roots, State Champs don't get by on their catchy hooks alone. Around the World and Back reached #30 on the Billboard charts and Alternative Press named it one of the most essential albums of 2015. With all of their accolades, State Champs present themselves as delightful goofballs in both their lyrics and their videos. All of which makes me eager to see the band tear it up live.

State Champs will perform with Neck Deep, Knuckle Puck, and Like Pacific at the Cleveland Agora on Friday February 12. Tickets for the show are currently available. Go watch State Champs to get your high octane pop punk fix or just strap in to see an awesome band blow your face off. Either way, you'll be having fun.