State Champion Records celebrated their label’s launch with a show at WFMU’s Monty Hall on July 9, and goddamn do they know how to throw a party! The show featured a stacked lineup of local favorites Spowder, Snakeskin, and Decoration. State Champion Records has only been in existence since April of this year, and they’ve wasted absolutely no time making a major impact on the local scene.
Decoration started the night off with a banging set. This New Brunswick trio became an instant favorite after the first listen of their debut release, More Piles, and seeing them perform live truly elevated it to the next level for me. Decoration plays with such high-powered energy that, even so early in the night, you could easily find yourself completely swept up in the throes of the show.
Next up was Snakeskin, fronted by singer-songwriter Shanna Polly, playing a full-band set. Snakeskin brought a more toned-down, dark, and emotive feel with their set, which was emphasized by being sandwiched between two riotous punk bands like Decoration and Spowder. That is not always an easy situation to be in, but Polly held the crowd in the palm of her hand as she performed an intimate and sincere set.
Now, Monty Hall is a seriously legit venue with high end sound equipment, a space set up for acoustics, and an ample max capacity, but there was a moment during Snakeskin’s set, in which for a second, Monty Hall almost felt like a basement show. There are always technically difficulties and someone climbs out of the audience to help the performer fix whatever’s bugging out, only this time the random person from the audience was local legend, Screaming Females lead guitarist Marissa Paternoster.
Spowder closed out the show the way only they really can. The last time I saw Spowder was back in February when they opened for State Champion Records founder “King” Mike and Screaming Females. That was a show at which the opening band was called for an encore, something I haven’t seen before or since, but if any band could be worthy of such an honor, that band would in fact be Spowder. Declan McCleary is one of the great frontmen of this scene. For all of his strengths, the most admirable is his ability and willpower to outwork every other person on stage and it’s apparent with the veins ready to burst out of his neck and sweat flying off him like a sprinkler (the kind that goes chickachickachickachicka-tink-spickspickspickspick).
State Champion Records made a statement with this show that went beyond the talented bands they brought to the main stage. This label seems to work in a way that is well outside the norm in an innovative way. For example, when you purchase I Love My Room from State Champion, you get more than a cassette tape with killer tunes; you get a product that was hand-printed by the folks at State Champion themselves. Spowder’s Health Palm comes in a sleeve personally printed with a handwritten spine. There’s a level of passion, caring, and investment there that is uncommon in any industry, and that is something that I personally find incredibly honorable.
If you have not picked up any music from State Champion Records since their launch, you really fucking should. All their merch can be found on their webstore or their Bandcamp page. And to State Champion Records, great job so far, and I am very excited to see what you have coming up on the horizon.
Adam gave man-birth to N.J. Racket and is as close to an "editor-in-chief" the site has. He's a god awful photographer.