Well, maybe they can't slow down. Or, more accurately, maybe they won't allow to be slowed down. Leading up to the May 14th release of its best record yet, The Greatest Generation, the Philly sextet decided to push its ambition, health, and psyche to the absolute limit. The Wonder Years were going to attempt to play four shows in four different cities in a 24 hour span. And like many of Dan "Soupy" Campbell's lyrics - failure was not an option. Although failure tried to rear its ugly head a couple times throughout the madness of traveling from city to city, timezone to timezone.
After three successful shows in Philadelphia, New York City, and Chicago, the band was on its way to O'Hare Airport to board its flight to Anaheim to cap off the 24 hour whirlwind. Everything was going smoothly until a three hour flight delay pushed back the show at Chain Reaction two hours. This would break a lesser band, but instead I think this just motivated the band even more - they gave fate, mother nature, or whatever a collective middle finger, boarded the shittiest flight possible and hours later they put on one of the best shows I've seen in a long time.
The band came out onto the tiny Chain Reaction stage to raucous cheers from anxious fans ready to show their appreciation for what The Wonder Years were trying to accomplish. The band immediately launched into "Passing Through A Screen Door" and that open the floodgates of flying bodies everywhere. It was followed by two of the best Suburbia tracks - "Local Man Ruins Everything" and "Woke Up Older" - and the crowd reaction to both gave the band even more stamina. Campbell said as much, telling the crowd midway through the set that his body felt like it was ready to turn into dust but seeing all the smiling faces and the jumping around just inspired him and made him want to have even more fun. "Washington Park" was especially rousing as the audience feverishly shouted back the lyrics of losing a lot of blood in California, while new songs "Dismantling Summer" and "The Bastards, The Vultures, The Wolves" made its marks as new setlist staples (the shared gang vocals of "I'm came here looking for a fight" between band and crowd was especially hair-raising).
Realizing that only two songs stood in the way of the band finally getting much-needed (and deserved) showers and rest, The Wonder Years unleashed "Logan Circle" and "Came Out Swinging" and poured every ounce of being they had left into them. I never seen so many bodies jumping from the stage or on top of people than I did during the final song. It was a celebration of sorts - as not only the band realized what it had just accomplished but so did its fans. Seeing what I saw at Chain Reaction is the reason why I fell in love with this scene and it'll be the reason why this scene will continue to persevere long after I check out.
After the show I talked to a few members of the band and congratulated them on everything, stating that you couldn't even tell it was their fourth show in 24 hours. They looked energized, motivated, and confident the entire 40 or minutes they were up there. Afterwards, they were a bunch of guys weary yet proud of what happened during those 24 hours. Of course, their satisfaction and rest were short-lived, as the band did a photoshoot and two acoustic in-stores the following day - not to mention flying back to Philadelphia for the pop-up shop later this week. No rest for the weary they say. But in the end, it's all worth it. Greatest generation indeed.
Photo taken by Charles Epting - check out his Facebook