Crowding into small underground venues in East London is a right of way for many music lovers. However, crowding into a small underground venue in East London to see a supergroup comprising of Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus and All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth is the stuff of my teenage years’ dreams. Simple Creatures brings together the pop-punk icons for a new slightly edgier take on pop punk’s enduring legacy.
Getting the crowd warmed up for the night was BBC Radio 1 Rock Show’s Daniel P Carter, DJing new and old school tracks. Crew wandered through the crowd handing out Simple Creatures balloons whilst fans sang along to the decades of pop-punk and rock which soundtracked the start of the evening.
As the lights went dark and Mark Hoppus and Alex Gaskarth took to the stage the nostalgia for seeing these two legends of the scene was tangible. Bursting straight into ‘Drug’, the first song from the debut EP ‘Strange Love’ the crowd went wild. Singing along at the top of their lungs with Hoppus and Gaskarth clearly enjoying every moment. For guys who are used to gracing stadiums and arenas, the intimacy of an underground show didn’t phase them at all. If anything they played into the audiences’ hands, responding to heckles and joking with the crowd, not just those in the front row.
The production was fantastic, with lights that flooded the audience in colour, lasers, pyro, and visuals they truly kicked off Simple Creature’s career with a bang. Jumping into ‘Adrenaline’ and ‘How to Live’ and then the unreleased ‘NVM’ which despite never being played in the UK before the crowd were still singing along like they’d known it all their lives.
A highlight of the night was their take on the Depeche Mode classic ‘Personal Jesus’, the dark edginess of the cover complimented the direction of Simple Creature’s sound, allowing the duo to flex their varied musical tastes on stage. Small technical issues created the opportunity for more banter with the audience, playing off their third band member, a laptop, going to sleep mid-set.
Keeping with the edgy tone they quickly launched into ‘Ether’ one of the moodier tracks on the EP and then into another unreleased track ‘One Little Lie’. The power of YouTube and social media was really working for them, having on debuted the songs live that week the crowd were quick to pick up the words and sing along.
There’s great chemistry on stage between Hoppus and Gaskarth, the pair’s long-lasting friendship is apparent and fun. They feel like boys playing music they love in their garage, except with a few hundred screaming fans under one roof.
Rounding off the set with ‘Lucy’ and the titular EP track ‘Strange Love’, Simple Creatures takes what you love about Blink 182 and All Time Low and acknowledges that both they and the fans have grown up a bit. It’s edgier and leans into the tropes of pop-punk whilst still enjoying the youthful brashness associated with acts of this genre.
They promised they would be back, and they’ve already got Download lined up for this summer so they certainly won’t be going away anytime soon. With a new EP already in the works and fans clamouring for more, the Gaskarth Hoppus duo is one to keep your eye on.