Almost two and a half years ago I got press access to cover The Wonder Years when they came through town with Worriers, Tiny Moving Parts, and Tigers Jaw. This was also my first time getting camera pit access which was embarrassing as I did not have one save the one on my Samsung Galaxy s7. But, hey I wasn’t going to turn down pit access. So when The Wonder Years started their set I wandered behind the barrier like a hesitant child and took photos while actual photographers no doubt tolerated my hindrance of a presence. “Never again”, I vowed to myself after that evening. So since I have accumulated a backlog of photos from shows that I need to post, but I figured I start it off with the latest visit from The Wonder Years. This was their Burst and Decay vol II tour, featuring Pool Kids, Spanish Love Songs, and Free Throw, plus an acoustic and regular set from them.
Pool Kids brought the opening energy with their midwest emo stylings (despite being from Florida). Like many of their contemporaries of the current wave of emo, they were able to balance the technicality of their finger tapping and the catchiness of their melodies.
Spanish Love Songs were the only band that I wasn’t familiar with, and I was BLOWN AWAY. Everything about their set was anthemic and uplifting. The soaring melodies and Dylan Slocum’s urgent vocal delivery (reminiscent of Christian Holden) made it hard to walk away from their set and not investigate them more.
One of the hardest things about being in the photo pit is following the unspoken rule that you are too busy and serious to act like you’re enjoying the band’s set. Yeah, that wasn’t happening during Free Throw. Seeing them live for the first time was everything I expected and I only wish recent health precautions weren’t holding me and the rest of the audience back.
The acoustic set from The Wonder Years was not something I was fully prepared for, not having heard either Burst and Decay EPs, however, that didn’t mean I couldn’t thoroughly enjoy the set. If anything it was proof of how adept of songwriters The Wonder Years are, hearing how seamlessly their songs translate to acoustic renditions. And hopefully, my amateur photography skills captured the reverent ambiance that their light show created. With the dancing lights and six halos behind them, the members of The Wonder Years seemed like seraphim troubadours serenading their charges.
If The Wonder Years were angelic beings during their acoustic set they were righteous, vehement prophets during their electric one. The set featured few songs from their early posi-punk days and leaned more towards their urgent, angry, and anxious songs of Suburbia… and the later albums. Using a term such as maturing seems simplistic, but seeing these songs performed live again reminded me about how effortlessly Dan Campbell and company were able to document their growing frustrations of adulthood, whether it’s the loss of loved ones or systemic abuse by corporations and politicians. The fact that these men have chosen to use their platform to battle their personal demons and create rallying cries and anthems for the marginalized is what keeps me coming back to see them year after year.
Follow the bands at the links below:
Pool Kids, Spanish Love Songs, Free Throw, The Wonder Years
The Wonder Years just announced the rescheduled dates of this tour you can find them below and purchase tickets here.
7/9 – Cleveland, OH – House of Blues
7/11 – Detroit, MI – The Majestic
7/13 – Chicago, IL – Concord
7/14 – Buffalo, NY – Town Ballroom
7/15 – Asbury Park, NJ – Asbury Lanes
7/16 – New Haven, CT – Toad’s Place
7/18 – Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore
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