It was a typical Saturday night in downtown San Diego and clubbers were wandering the streets. It had been two days since Thanksgiving, and what better way to burn off the holiday food than rocking out at a live concert.
New Yorks’ State Champs invaded House of Blues for their Kings of the New Age Tour and brought Between You & Me, Hunny, and Mothé (a change in the original plan – details in a moment).
State Champs’ VIP fans had been inside the House of Blues for the meet and greet since 4 p.m., but the rest of the crowd waited in a long line for the doors to open at 6. Once inside, people were excited for the Kings of the New Age show to begin.
The lights turned down and music started playing. Wait a minute… something is wrong here! This isn’t Games We Play, who was scheduled to open? To everyone’s surprise, there was a different band onstage starting things off. The band Mothé appeared, singing “You’re So Cool.” With great stage presence led by singer Spencer Fort – who dressed and looked like a young Steven Tyler from Aerosmith – the audience was thrown back with their happy alternative indie vibes. The group ended the 30-minute set with their hit, “Debt Collector.”
Afterwards, the lead guitarist came out to greet the crowd. While talking with him and fans, I learned that someone in Games We Play got sick after the previous show in Anaheim, so Mothé was a last-minute addition to fill in. We wish Games We Play a speedy recovery!
Up next and coming from down under – and bursting with energy – was the pop punk band Between You & Me. From Melbourne, Australia, they came out with guns blazing, kicking their set off playing “Butterflies,” from their latest album “Armageddon.” In the middle of this rockfest, these mates slowed things down with the ballad “Go to Hell.”
In the middle of the song “Deadbeat,” vocalist Jake Wilson and bassist James Karagiozis jumped into the mosh pit, dancing with the crowd as fans took turns singing into both microphones. Ending the 45-minute set with their anthem “Dakota,” Between You & Me nearly stole the show.
After a quick stage change, Hunny opened with the song “JFK.” Lead singer Jason Yarger was dressed like he came out of the alternative rock scene, wearing an old, holey Slipknot t-shirt that appeared to be from 1995, and dark sunglasses. Sounding nothing like their recordings, Hunny is more of a raw rock band than you would expect.
With their influence of modern new wave and post punk, the band had the vibe of The Cure meets Green Day, with a no Fs given attitude that was so suave. Closing with “Lula,” the lead singer finished an entire bottle of red wine during their hour-long set, which was so Joe Cool.
Fans got out their signed swag for “show and tell” in anticipation of the moment they had all been waiting for. Then the lights went dark. With a burst of electricity and smoke blasting to the skies, State Champs come out jamming to “Just Sound” as the crowd went crazy!
The crowd was jumping, dancing, moshing, and crowd surfing immediately. With amazing lighting, Co2 Jet machines, and a huge LED screen behind drummer Evan Ambrosio for graphics, the band went all out and it showed. The energy was non-stop as State Champs played with a new level of intensity.
Halfway through their setlist, State Champs whipped out the acoustic guitars to change the pace and mood. Fans in the audience turned on their phone flashlights and held them up high, as their heroes played “Crying Out Loud” and “Our Time to Go.” With everyone participating, including some House of Blues staff members, it was truly a moving moment.
Towards the end of the night, they played a melody of old classics, wrapping it up with “Secrets.” It was all over, or so they thought.
November 26, 2022
The crowd kept chanting “one more song” over and over again. The band came out for an encore, playing “Everybody but You,” as the place went ballistic for one last party! With a huge smile on Derek DiScanio’s face, crowd surfers everywhere, and smoke shooting into the heavens one last time, you could tell that the State Champs really were kings of the new age.