Eastbourne pop punkers ROAM are slowly but surely putting themselves on the map alongside a whole host of British contemporaries dedicated to keeping their previously-dying genre alive. With 2015 proving to have been a massive year for the genre, 2016 looks set to be bigger and better. Last night, ROAM took to Amsterdam’s Winston Kingdom for an almost sold-out show with support from Dutch bands The Overslept and Alive Again.
Hilversum pop-punkers The Overslept took to the stage first, with a small crowd of dedicated fans and intrigued newcomers forming the majority of the Winston Kingdom’s small floor. Performing seven songs over the course of half an hour, the quartet got the crowd going from the word go. A (slightly cheesy) cover of Busted’s pop-rock classic Year 3000 went down well, however the double-whammy of Where We Want To and Memory Lane still proved an early highlight. The Overslept are essentially “just another pop-punk band”, however what helps the Sem Jonkhout-fronted outfit in standing out is the way in which they lean more towards synth-based power pop. Sure, the harder punk elements are definitely present, however hints of cliché-d synths and sickly sweet choruses still dominate. The Overslept have potential, that’s for sure.
Nunspeet-quintet Alive Again followed, utilizing elements more grounded in the heavier side of pop-punk. Energetic frontman Marijn te Flierhaar spent plenty of time interacting with the crowd, launching himself into the 100-strong throng throughout. One moment in the set saw a special guest join the band onstage to add some vocal assistance, with the majority of the set dominated by recent EP release Always Forward. Compared to The Overslept, Alive Again have equal amounts of potential which they could definitely live up to over the next twelve months. Whether or not we’ll see and hear much more from them in a scene absolutely drowning in bands remains to be seen, however the signs are looking good right now.
Just after 9pm, ROAM took to the stage in front of a room which clearly wasn’t sold out. Not that this discouraged the band from losing their shit, though, because that’s pretty much all they did for the duration of ROAM’s 50-minute set. Opening the set on the energetic Warning Sign, frontman Alex Costello immediately launched himself into the crowd. As expected, everyone rushed forward and the first pit of the evening was born. This pit withstood everything which it faced, from flying beer glasses all the way through to a barrage of glowsticks. Over Your Head’s faster percussive undertones (courtesy of Charlie Pearson) set the scene for the rest of the show, one which leant heavily towards ROAM’s debut album, Backbone. Its opener Cabin Fever followed, encompassing catchy pop-centric vocal elements which intertwined with chugged guitar riffs courtesy of Alex Adam and Sam Veness. Fellow new track All the Same leant heavily towards the ‘classic’ era of pop punk which was made famous by the likes of Blink-182 and Sum 41, before older cut Nothing in Return added a further nostalgic presence to proceedings. “Bridges that I’m yet to find on my own” sang Costello emphatically, the song flittering between faster and slower sections both bathed in equally catchy vocal elements.
The fact that pretty much every ROAM song follows the same pop-punk formula might become frustrating after a while on record, which is understandable. Live, however, ROAM are a whole new beast. Whatever they lay down on record gets picked up and injected with bucketloads of energy, power and raw finesse. Newer track Hopeless Case demonstrated this, contrasting nicely with one of the band’s oldest songs, Foresight. Once again, Pearson’s powerful drumming formed the track’s backbone (no pun intended), his half of the rhythm section being complemented by bassist Matt Roskilly. Safeguard, taken from last year’s Viewpoint EP, was another high-octane moment in the show, before the band slowed down the pace completely on the acoustic Tracks. Adam swapped his guitar for an acoustic one, with the rest of the band taking a step back (or, in Roskilly’s case, a sit down) until classic pop-punk throwback track Tell Me. It’s the penultimate track on Backbone, making way for the massive Leaving Notice. “So where’s my leaving notice?” asks Costello enthusiastically, ahead of a slower verse which chugged along nicely. As the show came closer to its curtain call, ROAM still had two big tricks up their sleeves, though. The first of these was Deadweight, by far the band’s best track. Its forceful riffs and powerful chorus made for the biggest sing-a-long of the evening, leading straight into show closer Head Rush. Just like Deadweight, Head Rush is a fast-paced pop punk banger which doesn’t have to try very hard to accomplish a lot.
Despite the show not selling out, ROAM didn’t disappoint one bit as they absolutely tore the Winston Kingdom apart. If you like your pop-punk in the vein of the classics, then they’re definitely one of few bands around today who you ought to keep an eye out for. Similar to how Neck Deep absolutely owned 2015, we could see comparable antics from ROAM in 2016.
Click here for more pictures from last night’s show.