The Wonder Years
Feb 9, 2022
“You know who we are, you know why we’re here,” sang Dan “Soupy” Campbell a few songs into The Wonder Years set at the Regency Ballroom on a Wednesday night. The six-piece pop-punk/emo band was on their first post-pandemic tour, playing two of their most seminal albums, The Upsides and Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing and knew that the nearly sold-out audience was there to see the band play many songs that had not been performed live in decades.
Starting with the anthemic “Came Out Swinging”, the band tore through Suburbia in ripping fashion, with the guitar trio of Matt Brasch, Casey Cavaliere, and Nick Steinborn delivering plenty of tasty licks. What makes The Wonder Years such a captivating live band is the combination of plenty of upbeat guitar riffs with Campbell’s soaring and confessional vocals, who manages to make each song sound supercharged with emotion, as if he’s singing directly to you.
Many of the band’s songs are based around their experiences as a young band, such as the rocking “Summers in PA,” which featured plenty of chugging guitar riffs and snappy drumming from Mike Kennedy. In between the longer songs were super short bursts of punk intensity, with a few songs clocking in at a mere 90 seconds, including the ukulele-based “I’ve Given You All.”
After a short intermission, the band returned to rip through The Upsides. The album holds a special place in the hearts of fans as it was the album that broke the band through to a broader audience and essentially saved them from breaking up. Songs like “Everything I Own Fits In This Backpack” describe the state of mind the band was in during those early years, sleeping on floors and couches while touring to make their musical dreams come true. While the album was a bit more mid-tempo than Suburbia, it still had plenty of high-energy moments, such as the blistering “Washington Square Park,” which featured some killer bass playing from Josh Martin.
Finally, the band closed out the night with a few rare songs that had not been played live in a very long time. These songs were mainly B-sides to singles from the time that both albums were recorded, so they really bookended the night well.
After waiting throughout the COVID pandemic to finally go back on tour to play tow of their most well-known albums, The Wonder Years definitely made the most of their set, and based on the intense crowd reaction during the show, and this won’t be the last time they do a tour like this.
Photo: Jonathan Weiner