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The Wonder Years – The Greatest Generation Tour, April 17 2014

by Vasilis

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New York City… goddamn… is it good to be back”. Wonder Years Vocalist Dan “Soupy” Campbell proclaimed this over a visible grin following the wild and energetic start of the band’s 90 minute set at The Best Buy Theater on Thursday, April 17. The excitement and awe was clear in Dan’s sweat-soaked face and in his voice; just a few short years ago, the band was playing to a handful of kids in basements, VFW halls, and small clubs around the New York City and Long Island areas. On this Thursday night, they were playing in front of 2,000 crazed fans in the heart of Times Square at a show that sold out over two months in advance. To mark this special occasion, the band brought along a veritable “who’s who” of trending and popular bands in the scene, helping the show become one of the most anticipated tours of the spring.

Upstart emo band Modern Baseball took the stage at 6:30, and it was clear this was no ordinary opening slot. Whereas most openers are met with polite applause, head bobbing, and toe tapping, the crowd surged forward when Modern Baseball took the stage and sang along to every word. The band ripped through a 7-song set, which mostly consisted of wacky banter and songs from their stellar new album You’re Gonna Miss It All. The band’s youthful exuberance shined throughout their set and they seemed genuinely enthused to be playing music together. The band has been steadily gaining steam since the release of their 2012 debut album SPORTS, and if this performance is any indication, their stock will only continue to grow.

Setlist:

Tears Over Beers

Broken Cash Machine

Rock Bottom

Charlie Black

Two Good Things

The Weekend

Your Graduation

 

Popular pop punk band Real Friends took the stage next to much fanfare from the young audience. Much like when The Story So Far held the second slot on the last Wonder Years 5-band headlining tour (The 2012 Glamour Kills Tour), Real Friends received the largest reaction next to the headliner. The band’s detractors have criticized their lack of creativity and have labeled them a comical stereotype, but you would not have known the hate existed from the crowd’s intensity. They made the most of their 30-minute set, powering through 9 songs spanning their 3 EPs. Vocalist Dan Lambton even poked fun at pop punk conventions when chants of “pizza!” began, saying the band doesn’t approve of the association between pizza and pop punk. The love they received is especially impressive because they have not released a full-length album, but chances are when their debut drops this fall on Fearless Records, their popularity will increase even more.

 

Setlist:

Floorboards

Alexander Supertramp

Skin Deep

Lost Boy

Anchor Down

Dirty Water

Home For Fall

I’ve Given Up On You

Late Nights In My Car

 

Citizen followed and switched up the pace, performing a heavier, grunge-influenced style of music. Though Citizen began as a pop punk band, they have shed that label with resounding force. Their set consisted of choice cuts from their 2013 debut album Youth along with one older song (“Drown”). While the group may appear out of place on the bill, the crowd loved every minute of their set, and sang along loudly from start to finish, even the slower, moodier songs. The band didn’t say much, only stopping to thank the other bands and the crowd for their support; The group let the music speak for itself, and clearly the crowd was listening and enjoying it.

 

Setlist:

The Night I Drove Alone

Roam the Room

Drown

Sleep

How Does It Feel?

Figure You Out

Speaking With a Ghost

The Summer

 

Fireworks were the last band to take the stage before The Wonder Years, having replaced Defeater (who had to drop off before the tour began when their vocalist fell ill). This is the third time Fireworks have toured with The Wonder Years in the past three years, and their close friendship is well documented. Although their sophomore album Gospel is critically acclaimed and their new release Oh, Common Life was a stellar follow-up, they received a disappointingly lukewarm reaction compared to the openers, despite being the most veteran band on the bill next to the headliners. Still, Fireworks seemed genuinely pleased with the kids who sang along and their infectious enthusiasm was notable over the course of their 11-song set. The crowd showed the most energy when the band finished the night with their classic closer “Detroit”.

 

Setlist:

X’s On Trees

Summer

Glowing Crosses

The Wild Bunch

One More Dizzy Creature With Love

Arrows

Teeth

Flies on Tape

Oh, Why Can’t We Start Old and Get Younger

When We Stand On Each Other We Block Out the Sun

Detroit

 

The Wonder Years finally took the stage at 9:50 to deafening applause and screams from sold-out crowd at Best Buy Theater. They opened the set with the hushed whisper of “There, There”, the first track on their fantastic album The Greatest Generation. The crowd sang along as the song reached a crescendo and exploded into the pure, unfettered emotional climax. From there, the intensity never waned over the course of the night as the band charged through a 16-song set equipped with choice tracks from their last three albums. They had the rare opportunity to play some deep cuts like “Me vs. The Highway” and “Dynamite Shovel” and some new songs like “Raindance in Traffic”, “The Devil in My Bloodstream”, and “Cul-de-Sac”. As always, the group squeezed in the fan-favorites, as “Local Man Ruins Everything”, “Washington Square Park”, and “Passing Through a Screen Doors” inspired the entire audience to jump along, crowd surf, and scream at the top of their lungs.

 

Dan’s on-stage presence felt like a mixture between a preacher and a professional wrestler as his emotions took center stage and his voice fell just short of shouting. Dan spoke about how fans have gone to eat at Melrose Diner after the band released the song, despite the fact that the food is horrible and the service is terrible. He later asked fans who had their album Suburbia, I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing and, upon seeing the entire crowd cheer, said “well, shit then, I guess this song is for all of you”. He chose a more serious and surreal tone when discussing how the band struggled mightily to book a New York show in 2006 (before securing a basement show in Bushwick) and now the band’s faces are plastered on a billboard in Times Square for a sold out show. Dan seemed on the verge of joyful tears as he looked out on to the sea of faces smiling and singing back at him, and for a moment you could see the immeasurable happiness this tour has brought every member of the band. When the band took the stage to close out the show with the epic 7-minute “I Just Want To Sell Out My Funeral”, which closes out The Greatest Generation, the band left every last bit of energy they had left on the stage, and their fans did the same.

 

The band’s rapid rise in popularity has been a direct result of their sincerity, their tireless work ethic, their down-to-earth demeanor, and most importantly their ability to produce stellar, challenging pop punk music that refuses to conform to conventions and connects deeply with their audience. They have never sounded crisper live, playing through their headlining set with precision and ease. The Wonder Years are still relatively young yet commanded the stage with a veteran presence, and they demonstrated that they are in fact ready for center stage and to take the reins as one of the biggest bands in the scene today. As the American leg of their Greatest Generation tour comes to a close and the band prepares to head to Europe, it’s safe to say that The Wonder Years have a lot left to give.

 

Setlist:

There, There

Passing Through a Screen Door

Local Man Ruins Everything

Woke Up Older

Me vs. The Highway

Melrose Diner

A Raindance in Traffic

Everything I Own Fits In This Backpack

Dynamite Shovel

The Devil in My Bloodstream

Cul-De-Sac

Dismantling Summer

Don’t Let Me Cave In

Washington Square Park

Came Out Swinging

ENCORE:

I Just Want To Sell Out My Funeral

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Five Can’t Miss Spring Tours

by Vasilis

The calendar may read “March”, but much of the country was treated to another dose of snow this past Monday, leading many to dream of springtime. While the vernal equinox is still two weeks away, bands are already packing their gear, picking their setlists, saying their goodbyes to their hometown and making the final preparations for their spring headlining tours. While winter is usually reserved for short tours or hometown shows, spring is where bands travel extensively across the country to support their latest releases. This spring is no different, and while it’s impossible to include every tour worth checking out, I wanted to run through some of the most intriguing tours happening between March and May.

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The Great American Cult Tour” is a long time coming for Bayside. Although they have maintained a steady, cult-like level of popularity over their career, the band has not done a full solo headlining tour since their 2008 album Shudder. It’s hard to believe their brilliant 2011 release Killing Time only resulted in co-headliners (with Saves the Day, Silverstein, and Senses Fail) and supporting spots (with Taking Back Sunday and Alkaline Trio). Finally, Bayside have the chance to put together a longer setlist to properly do justice to their six-album catalog; look for some rare, deep cuts thrown into their set. Also worth noting is the presence of Four Year Strong, who have remained relatively inactive since their divisive 2011 effort In Some Way, Shape, Or Form. It will be interesting to see how the lack of shows has affected the band and if they will stick to mostly old songs on this run. Daylight and Mixtapes round out the tour, adding some variety and making this one of the “can’t miss” shows of the spring. The tour kicks off on March 5 in Cleveland and winds down on April 5 in Worchester.

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This is the tour I am most excited for. After releasing the fantastic conclusion to their coming-of-age conceptual trilogy, The Wonder Years are taking some friends on the road in support of The Greatest Generation. While many may complain that it’s a predictable line-up, the tour contains some interesting, rapidly growing bands. Boston hardcore band Defeater had to drop the tour due to vocalist Derek Archambault’s health problems, resulting in Fireworks, Michigan pop punk band and long-time friends of The Wonder Years, stepping in to fill the supporting slot. Additionally, Citizen and Real Friends, two bands that have become darlings of the pop punk scene, are sure to bring along their own dedicated following. Opening the bill is up-and-coming emo band Modern Baseball, fresh off the release of their stellar sophomore album You’re Gonna Miss It All. The Wonder Years should be playing the longest set of their careers and are playing in front of the largest crowds of their career, which includes an already sold-out show at the 2,000 plus capacity Best Buy Theater in New York City. This fast-selling tour begins on March 5 in Clifton Park NY and concludes on April 18 in New Jersey.

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In what is sure to be the most emotionally-charged tour of the spring, La Dispute is taking out Pianos Become The Teeth and Mansions on a month-long tour to support their third album Rooms of the House. These shows will feature three bands that offer a mix of hardcore, indie, and emo to create dark, tortured emotional music, which will require a box of tissues and a well-rested set of lungs in order to scream along to. La Dispute’s following has increased tremendously since their 2011 sophomore effort Wildlife, and teaming up with Pianos Become the Teeth is a logical move. Mansions are sure to get some good exposure opening for this tour and their dark, brooding style is sure to appeal to La Dispute fans. This tour, which already boasts an impressive number of sold-out shows, begins on March 14 in North Carolina and winds down on April 14 in Cleveland.

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It’s hard to ignore a tour that sold out two New York City shows within a day of their release and had to add a third show due to “overwhelming demand”. Who knew Taking Back Sunday and The Used would still have so much pull in 2014? The two giants, who played together in support of Blink-182 in 2004, team up 10 years later for a monstrous headlining tour. Both bands have tasted mainstream success, attained gold and platinum album status, and signed with major record labels, but the bands are each set to release their respective albums in the Spring on indie powerhouse Hopeless Records. The move should be a good litmus test for each band, demonstrating how successful the bands still are and can be in a smaller label than they are accustomed to. Joining the bill is female-fronted Australian pop punk band Tonight Alive and new Spencer Chamberlain (ex-Underoath) project Sleepwave. The tour begins on March 14 in Dallas and concludes on April 27 in Orlando.

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I like to call this the “Friends of Brand New” tour. While this line-up would have been perfect opening for the Long Island recluses, it’s exciting to see Manchester Orchestra embark on a nice, long tour with a couple friends. For lack of a better term, this tour is going to be “heavy” (musically and emotionally) in the best possible way as Manchester Orchestra support their long-awaited fourth album Cope. Coming along for the ride are the always incredible Balance & Composure, who put on one of the best live shows in music today, and the likable Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band, who is fresh off his highly successful crowd funded double album and whose live show continues to grow. This has a chance to be one of the most impressive “under-the-radar” tours of the spring, but with three stellar live bands, it’s one not to be missed. The tour kicks off on April 17 in Tampa and winds down on May 31 in Nashville.

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Top Albums of 2013 (as chosen by Vas)

Band – Album – “Favorite Song”

  1. The Wonder Years – The Greatest Generation – “I Just Want to Sell Out My Funeral”

  2. Streetlight Manifesto – The Hands That Thieve – “Your Day Will Come”

  3. Balance & Composure – The Things We Think We’re Missing – “Keepsake”

  4. Frank Turner – Tape Deck Heart – “Plain Sailing Weather”

  5. Kevin Devine – Bulldozer/Bubblegum – “Redbird”

  6. Into It. Over It. – Intersections – “Contractual Obligation”

  7. The Front Bottoms – Talon of the Hawk – “Backflip”

  8. Arctic Monkeys – AM – “R U Mine?”

  9. Citizen – Youth – “Roam the Room”

  10. The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die – Whenever, If Ever – “Getting Sodas”

  11. Fall Out Boy – Save Rock and Roll – “Save Rock and Roll”

  12. Saves the Day – Saves the Day – “Ain’t No Kind of Love”

  13. The Swellers – Light Under Closed Doors – “Got Social”

  14. Mixtapes – Ordinary Silence – “Elevator Days”

  15. Sainthood Reps – Headswell – “Headswell”

  16. Allison Weiss – Say What You Mean – “One Way Love”

  17. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City – “Unbelievers”

  18. Have Mercy – The Earth Pushed Back – “This Old Ark”

  19. Polar Bear Club – Death Chorus – “WLWYCD”

  20. Paramore – Paramore – “Anklebiters”

2013 Top 5 EPs:

  1. Vinnie Caruana – City By The Sea

  2. Pentimento – Inside the Sea

  3. Their / They’re / There – Their / They’re / There

  4. Misser – Distancing

  5. Why Bother? – This Isn’t Very Good

 

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