BY JESS BECK | Go Venue Magazine
Alright, back story.
Don’t groan, you love this shit.
I became a fan of Neck Deep shortly after I started shooting concerts professionally. It instantly became a personal goal of mine to photograph them at some point in history before I died (and if you think that’s morbid…well…it’s a pop-punk thing, ok? We’re just all waiting for the Void to swallow us whole…).
And that’s it. That’s the whole back story.
That wasn’t so bad.
Now let’s get you to the rest of that article you’re so desperate for!
We’re experiencing a literal heat warning this week in Phoenix, so of course it was the perfect time for Neck Deep, one of the hottest names out of Wrexham, Wales (wherever the fuck that is anyway) to storm in with guests Magnolia Park and Games We Play and raise the humidity level here in the Phoenix Metro after playing the Nile Theatre on 07.10.2022 – a Sunday night that won’t be easily forgotten or showered off.
Sure, it didn’t help that the Nile’s air conditioning was malfunctioning, which I’m learning is a pretty common problem here in the Phoenix Metro, but regardless of the conditions, the show must go on!
Up first was Games We Play – and I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard of these fellas before that night. I had no idea what to expect, but I’ll tell you this, if they’re not headlining in at least 3 years, I’ll be shocked. They put on such a great show that I would see them again, and they’re definitely my new “flavor of the week” if you will. Vocalist Emmyn Calleiro could easily double as a comedian next to Jonah Hill as he introduced his songs with such descriptive methods as, “This song is about shitting your pants!” and, “This track is about this old lady I boned when I was 18. I didn’t care that she had a husband or a few kids, she was hot!” The track that stood out to me was “Deadbeat” which is a chronicle about how his ex-girlfriends parents wanted him to find a “real job” instead of play music. Whelp…considering Games We Play just signed with Fueled By Ramen Records, I’d say Calleiro (scrumptious deadbeat as he is) made the right choice.
Also…can we talk about how this scrumptious man has such liquid-like dance moves? I didn’t know if I was watching Games We Play or Michael Jackson up on the stage (you know, if MJ was like…a tall white dude that was a little bigger and had long hair and didn’t get weird with kids and obviously didn’t have any plastic surgery, but like…whatever…you get the point). They also played a love song that they had written 5 minutes prior to taking the stage that was dedicated to Ben (vocalist for Neck Deep) called “Cruise.” It was such a huge hit that Florida Georgia Line also covered that song like…10 years ago before it was even written.
Next up was Magnolia Park, the outfit from Orlando, Florida. The entire band came out shirtless (you know…Arizona heat and no AC makes for a rather sweaty time), and about two songs into the set, after commenting on how hot it always is in Arizona, the crowd chanted for vocalist Joshua Roberts to follow suit – and he did just that by tossing his sweat-soaked shirt into the crowd.
But heat or no heat, Magnolia Park is a band that is on the rise for sure. They’ve got punchy beats and lyrics, and for a pop-punk band, that is absolutely the formula that you have to be successful. But they’re emotional too – not in the traditional way of like, the whiny, “OMG my life is over” stereotype in the scene, but their SOUND is forceful in a way that makes you soak in every note. Torres and Criales write riffs in such a way that helps to enhance the experience of the lyrics, such as in “Liar” that deals with fake friends – which yes, we’ve all had – and what often times is the response is to those fake friends. We all wish they’d go, but for some reason we also stick around WAY longer than we should have to get taken advantage of. Magnolia Park is one hell of a band, though, make sure to add them to your summer playlist, so you don’t miss out! Other notable tracks included “10 for 10” and their cover of “Sugar, We’re Going Down,” which vocalist Roberts sang from the back of the risers.
After a changeover of about 30 minutes, Neck Deep finally took the stage.
My fingers at this point looked like I had been in the pool for 30 days straight.
My shirt was sticking to my body.
My shorts…SHORTS…were dripping wet due to the heat inside the building.
Every single inch of my body was M-O-I-S-T.
But the show must go on!
Neck Deep walked on stage to a flurry of applause and screaming from the entire building, and they delivered a set list worthy of such accolades. I will admit, I got a little confused since vocalist Ben Barlow sort of looks like a cross between Kid Rock and Gary Busey, but that’s ok when you’re one of the best pop-punk bands to ever do it.
The energy of this show was incredible, and I swear there were more crowd surfers than mosh-pitters at this show, which was an unusual first, especially with so many MOIST humans packed into the venue. I don’t think there was a single moment that guitarist Matt West stood still, and he did a great job of pumping the audience up. Neck Deep kicked off the show with “Motion” and then they just played banger after banger for the drenched but euphoric attendees. Fans weren’t just singing back to the songs – they were SCREAMING them back at the top of their lungs, which is a testament to how this band connects and resonates with their fans. Tracks like “She’s A God,” and “Golden Steps,” were some of the high points during this experience.
Towards the end of the show, Barlow made sure to have everyone give a round of applause to the crew who helps to put the shows on, which is always amazing to hear from the stage as the production crew is often taken for granted.
And speaking of production crew, I’d personally like to thank the staff of the Nile Theatre for their incredible hospitality and kindness during the show. It was HOT, but they did what they could for the audience by distributing water bottles, looking after weary and exhausted fans, and helping the crowd surfers land safely as they came barreling towards the front of the barricade.
So as sweaty and moist as it was, it was an awesome experience to hear and see all of these bands live, and thank you, reader, for your continued support as well. We couldn’t do this without you!
Games We Play
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