The Wonder Years' sold out show on April 15th began not with the typical bang, but with the whisper of "There, There." Frontman Dan "Soupy" Campbell - sporting a beard that would make Daniel Bryan proud - crooned the opening of the first track from the band's new album, The Greatest Generation, before being drowned out by the 2,000+ strong crowd at Worcester, MA's The Palladium.
"I'm sorry I don't laugh at the right times."
When the song kicked in, the band and the crowd alike lost it, beginning a 70-minute cathartic release set to some of the best pop-punk songs of the modern era. The Wonder Years have refined their craft both musically and on stage, while their draw has continued to grow exponentially over the years. They are one of the tightest live bands in the scene, achieving the perfect balance between high energy and strong musicianship.
As a longtime fan of the band, it would be hard to ask for a better setlist. The run - their first proper U.S. headliner in quite some time - is dubbed The Greatest Generation World Tour. They played several standout tracks from their latest effort, including "The Bastards, The Vultures, The Wolves," "The Devil in My Bloodstream" and "Dismantling Summer." They also played choice cuts from Suburbia and The Upsides. A highlight of the night came when the band, after an impassioned speech by Campbell about their meaning, played a pair of non-album tracks, "An Elegy for Baby Blue" and "I Was Scared and I'm Sorry."
Always one to end on a high note, the Philadelphia sextet concluded with an encore of "I Just Want to Sell Out My Funeral." The Greatest Generation's 7-and-a-half-minute closing opus interweaves lyrics and themes from other songs on the album, serving as a highlight real. In a live setting, the song hits even harder, providing the perfect bookend to the set.
The Wonder Years brought along a collection of bands they admire, which doubles as a veritable who's who of the current pop-punk scene. Their longtime friends and frequent tourmates in Fireworks provided direct support (replacing Defeater, who were forced to drop off due to a health issue). Although some fans evidently haven't had enough time to familiarize themselves with the band's brand new album, Oh, Common Life, the older material remained crowd pleasing. The set closing "Detroit," in particular, set the audience off.
It's rare for lower billed bands on a package tour to elicit such rambunctious crowd reactions, but Citizen, Real Friends and Modern Baseball were all well-received, to say the least. Although this tour is a great opportunity for each of them, many audience members were already familiar with the bands, displaying their approval with copious crowd surfing and singing along.
The Greatest Generation World Tour is yet another testament to why The Wonder Years are the gold standard for the genre. Between their honest songs, their tight stage presence, their rabid fanbase and even the bands they surround themselves with, The Wonder Years have set the bar impossibly high for any other band hoping to take the pop-punk throne.