Concert Review: The Wonder Years

Do you remember when New Found Glory put out Coming Home? If you were anything like me you were damn near appalled at the shift in sound for the pop-punk princes from energy drink-fueled jams to more mellowed out romantic rock numbers. I did eventually join every logical person and welcomed the progression, and yet, for all the acclaim it was a sound they never returned to. Dare I say, few bands that start in the genre of adolescent angst who attempt to progress beyond that end up sustaining that direction and return to their already established sound. So naturally, I was intrigued by last week’s The Wonder Years show. A band that has been maturing constantly, both sonically and lyrically, they dropped their recent album with little self-promotion, and yet that didn’t stop the music denizens at NPR from featuring their video for “Raining in Kyoto”. The question remains though, will these Philly gentlemen achieve the broader appeal with their constantly evolving sound?

 

Firstly, my apologies to Worriers, I missed your entire set. Listen, I’m almost 30 with mildly high cholesterol and Ultimate Frisbee on Fridays is one of the few forms of exercise I get. Everyone go listen to Worriers. And while you’re at it queue up Tiny Moving Parts, a band that I always foolishly push from my mind even though the emo three-piece has one of the most entertaining and joyful live shows I’ve ever seen. Dylan Mattheisen infectious energy will seep into your soul just by watching the frontman jump all over the stage dripping in sweat, finger tapping like a fiend, and grinning from ear to ear all the while. Tigers Jaw provided a good cool down and threw me back into the 90’s when I still listened to the radio because it still played, you know, good music.

 

I’ve seen The Wonder Years once before, so I figured I knew what to expect: moshing, sing- alongs, and a general atmosphere of stokedness. So I wasn’t ready when they opened with the new song “Pyramids of Salt”, which features the chorus “I drew a line in the sand with these worthless fucking hands / I drew a line in the sand you washed it away again.” Ooof. It was as if singer Dan Campbell had balled up the anxiety and helplessness encapsulated in those words and Kamehameha’d me in the gut with them. The rest of the crowd did not share my shock, as they were too busy singing along to every word. And that kept on for the entire night. The audience was in emotional sync with the band as they played their way through songs from their later albums, songs about loss and loneliness. I realized then that this was a band that would persist to both grow and be as genuine as they could and that dedication would draw to them more and more listeners just looking for some kind of sonic salve to help them through whatever was going on. Which means I just have to look forward to singing along with a larger group the next time the boys come to town.

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