“If I can manage not to fuck this up…”
With a new record coming out this week, the claustrophobic aisles of Chicago’s Shuga Records were filled tight with two hundred fans hoping to catch a glimpse of The Wonder Years play an acoustic set. The current tour is simple, short and a thank you to their most passionate fans, who lined up for hours (allegedly) in front of the record store for the best view. Even outside of their loud, energetic element, the band has a hell of a presence that follows them wherever they go.
Their set was a short, quick burst of six songs. At first, hearing as gossip that there were going to be so few songs while waiting in line to enter felt like a disappointment, but it’s all that is required to not only satisfy any fan, but set the mood for a theme. The band, sitting and lower in tone than the normal shouting, really made this set feel like something special and secretive.
Starting off with “Cardinals” and ending with “Cigarettes and Saints” off of their new album, No Closer to Heaven, the repeated theme of “If we can’t save our brothers, we’re no saviors” encapsulated the set. It wasn’t until the final moments of the show that it really hit me – like most everything the band does, they tried to not only tie the set up together with reoccurring elements, but relate them to their older songs, like “Local Man Ruins Everything”. It’s a brilliant way to set the mood for what’s to come, and give new meaning to the songs we already love.
It’s odd to see fans learning the words to new songs. During “Cardinals”, the room was decisively quiet until older favorites like,“Passing Through a Screen Door” began and lured the crowd into shouting the lyrics back at the stage as Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell closed his eyes and let us sing to him before breaking back into the next verse.
However, the breakout song from the new record is almost definitively “Cigarettes and Saints”, a crooning ballad turned raging rocker that gives the band a much needed slow down during their high octane sets. Even after the band’s biggest singles, this new song is the one that caught the most passion as the crowd roared every word. During the final verse, Soupy stood for the first time and raged into the mic, screaming repeatedly, “You can’t have my friends, You can’t have my brothers” and looking like he was almost on the verge of tears. It was incredible to see the fire of a loud electric set fit perfectly into the confines of the acoustic sound, making the final shouts all the more powerful. If the reaction from the band and the fans in attendance is any indication, “Cigarettes and Saints” is the definitive song from this newest release.
Patient onlookers were lucky enough to get autographs and photos afterwards. The meetings were brief, which is perfect in order to not make an ass out of yourself, which I am generally known to do. The band members were fun, cheerful and joking with everyone in front of them and tried to make sure everyone left feeling great.
No Closer to Heaven comes out Friday. If you can, get a copy of it. When you find a group of people who put as much passion as they can into their music and work as The Wonder Years do, it’s worth every cent to make sure they can do it again for the fans that love them.
by Kyle Schultz
Kyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and was able to walk to the show. Hooray, convenience! Also, apparently the band likes Hellogoodbye, as three of them, including Soupy, stopped what they were doing to let me know.
I’ve just written a review on a up and coming duo and would really appreciate any feedback http://www.everythingblues.wordpress.com