For those who’ve feared pop punk may have descended into a cycle of angst, black and white Tumblr edits and never-ending pleas of hometown hatred in recent years – your deepest concerns can now be put to rest.

Between You & Me, Waterparks and The Maine ensured Sydney-siders committed to massive choruses, jump-till-you-drop riffs and sickly-sweet sentiments were treated to the perfect summer showdown of lovesick jams and heart-on-your-sleeve anthems.

Kicking things off, Between You & Me signify the perfect meeting point between the genres past, present and future. Burning through tracks off their 2016 EP Paper Thin the happy-go-lucky champs of thunderous bangers proved their rightful position amongst the Hopeless Records ranks. Hyping the sing-along hungry crowd to a swelling buzz of friction, sweat and wide-eyed awe at frontman Jake Wilson’s energy. The band tore through their latest track Overthinking, eliciting the night’s first circle pit. 

Time seemed to meander waiting for Waterparks to take the stage. Levels of hysteria this intense haven’t felt since All Time Low’s time as kings of skinny jeans and side fringes, proving Waterparks have truly ushered in a new era for pop punk – and the kids love it.

Waterparks are the musical embodiment of skittles (hear us out) – everything about their live performance is drenched in sugary sweet sentiments that remind fans that basking in total enjoyment and frivolity can act as an equally effective outlet for catharsis as somber basking in tears. 

Awsten donned a crown a fan kindly gifted, picking up a bunch of roses that he cherished between tracks, embodying a total homecoming king persona. Kicking things off with ‘Hawaii (Stay Awake)’ fans were sent into a dizzying frenzy of screams and pulsating colours reverberating from the stage. Whilst ‘Entertainment’ only saw a release last week, fans were already pleading for the album’s deeper cuts, with band treating the crowd to album highlight, ‘RARE’.

The band ended their set on the anthemic ‘Lucky People’ that saw Awsten take to the stage solo, with the usual colourful frontman at his most subdued and vulnerable, giving fans another insight into his superstar persona. 

With a live show this electrifying, Waterparks will carve the next generation of pop punk faithfuls, with imitators from all ends attempting to recreate their magic with hair dye and quirky stage actions however, their songwriting and musicianship chops will need to be as strong. (We reckon one of these bands could be up for the challenge…)

It feels a little strange referring to The Maine as legends and elder statesmen of the scene. In their 10 years touring, the band have picked up on all the tricks in the book needed to send an audience wild.

Taking cues from huge stadium rock acts like The Killers, the band basked in a smoke-screen layer of ultra-light beams that elevated their legend status as they entered the stage. 

‘Am I Pretty’ was extended into a long bluesy jam that allowed frontman John O’Callahagn to flex his dance moves and sweet talk the crowd with his signature charisma, only amplified by his soaring voice.  Their performance of establishing hit, ‘Girls Do What They Want’ didn’t feel like a ride through nostalgia – it was a celebration of their wild ride through ten years as leaders of the scene. 

The Maine have managed to continue to evolve and develop their legacy without riding on the coattails of there nostalgia – evident in the fervor newer tracks like ‘Bad Behaviour’ and ‘Misery’ were met with.

The stacked bill made for the perfect showcase of the best aspects of pop punk – anthemic, moving and at its core, unabashedly fun. Though the three bands differ in style, the common thread that weaved the performences was the ability to connect with the audience in a way that allows for complete expression and the ability to let go – the essence of an epic live show.


Photos by Georgia Moloney