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Neck Deep Returns for Baltimore Redemption at Ram’s Head Live

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One month ago, Welsh pop punk band Neck Deep released their fifth studio album, a Self-Titled record culminating the band’s twelve years into a collection of ten songs that is “Neck Deep in its truest form.” Self produced and recorded in the band’s warehouse, the record is reminiscent of their classic pop punk sound, with many listeners stating that it’s their best work since fan-favorite Life’s Not Out to Get You. Like much of their previous work, the album delves into serious topics while maintaining high energy, upbeat sounds. At its very core, the record is simply fun. To celebrate the release of this record, for the past few weeks the band have embarked on their Live in America 2024 Tour with support from Higher Power, Bearings, and Drain. As the final stretch of the tour reaches the east coast, Neck Deep finds another reason to perform their very best.

Neck Deep returns for Baltimore redemption (and a brand new record) with their sold out headlining show at Ram's Head Live.
Neck Deep returns for Baltimore redemption (and a brand new record) with their sold out headlining show at Ram's Head Live.
Neck Deep returns for Baltimore redemption (and a brand new record) with their sold out headlining show at Ram's Head Live.

In December 2021, mere hours before the doors of Ram’s Head Live were to open for Neck Deep’s Baltimore show, a positive Covid-19 test among the band caused the tour to derail for nearly two weeks. Just over two years later, the band finally made their return to Ram’s Head, marking their first headlining show in Baltimore since 2018. Frontman Ben Barlow recalls this story of canceling their previous Baltimore show and how devastating it was for the band to the now sold out room of 1,500 people.

For Neck Deep and their fans, this show was not only a celebration of their recent album release but also a redemption.

Neck Deep returns for Baltimore redemption (and a brand new record) with their sold out headlining show at Ram's Head Live.
Neck Deep returns for Baltimore redemption (and a brand new record) with their sold out headlining show at Ram's Head Live.

Kicking off the set with new album opener “Dumbstruck Dumbf**k,” the energy starts and remains high from start to finish. Not a single song on the setlist was not accompanied by a mosh pit and crowd surfers. The set reflects the fun, cartoon style of the album art, with “NECK DEEP” emblazoned in large 3D bubble letters and small cartoon characters peeking through gaps in a brick backdrop. In addition to Barlow the five piece band includes guitarists Matt West and Sam Bowden, bassist Seb Barlow, and drummer Matt Powles. The band feeds off of the crowd’s energy, interacting with the crowd surfers and front row to echo the lyrics back.

Neck Deep returns for Baltimore redemption (and a brand new record) with their sold out headlining show at Ram's Head Live.
Neck Deep returns for Baltimore redemption (and a brand new record) with their sold out headlining show at Ram's Head Live.
Neck Deep returns for Baltimore redemption (and a brand new record) with their sold out headlining show at Ram's Head Live.

Neck Deep also reminds the crowd that fundamentally, punk will always be political. Barlow’s shirt states “NO WAR,” as he tells the audience that they are closer to one another than politicians or CEOs, and declares his support for Palestine. His speech leads into “We Need More Bricks,” a poignant song discussing a number of political injustices. Rather than feeling helpless about it, the song instead calls the listener to action: “There’s a spark, there’s a light / There’s a will, there’s a way out . . . We need more fight and we need more grit / We need more punks and we need more bricks.”

The band’s outspoken advocacy has always fostered an inclusive space in the scene. This inclusive space turns into a literal physical space during the song “She’s a God,” in which Barlow invites the women in the room to the center of the crowd for a “girl pit.” The joy was evident during this song and this moment, with the girls-only pit going particularly hard.

The final song before the encore is perhaps the most iconic Neck Deep song, “December.” Rather than playing the original acoustic ballad version, they perform “December (again),” a reworked version that carries their typical upbeat pop punk sound with the same heartbreaking lyrics so you can cry while moshing.

In addition, Baltimore was treated to special appearances from saxophonist Saxl Rose during “It Won’t Be Like This Forever.” A highlight of the self-titled album, this song manages to discuss the feelings of loneliness while maintaining hope. Saxl Rose’s incredible talent brought an additional beautiful layer of sound to the live performance. He returned again for the final encore of “In Bloom,” in which he is featured in a remix. Barlow ends their set promising that the band isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and their performances continue to prove themselves as prominent standouts among the rock scene.

Show Date: 02.20.24 // Baltimore, MD @ Ram’s Head Live // Neck Deep Returns for Baltimore Redemption at Ram’s Head Live
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Anna Porcella
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Baltimore based music photographer who likes pop punk and k-pop!
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