Friday, December 31, 2010

Seen It Live: The Wonder Years Perform "The Upsides"

>> The Wonder Years released their most recent album, The Upsides, in September through Hopeless Records. I named this my number one album from 2010, and for good reason. This album is the epitome of everything pop punk should be. Vocals that don't need to be perfect, honest lyrics anyone can relate to, plenty of energy and passion in every song, and a message of positivity- The Upsides really has it all. The Wonder Years succeeded in making an album that tells a story people will want to hear again and again, something virtually every artist strives for. Recently, The Wonder Years played a string of holiday shows with Veara and A Loss For Words where they performed The Upsides in its entirety. I was lucky enough to attend one of these shows on December 17th.

>> Before the show, I knew three of the four bands that would be playing. I first met Veara back in April when I saw them on Toursick with A Day To Remember. My friend Brian (a pop-punk addict) told me to listen to A Loss For Words and The Wonder Years maybe a month beforehand, and I'm really glad I did. I fell in love with albums from each band at the same time, and was therefore thrilled to see them play at the same show.

>> The opening act, Nix86, was the only band I was unaware of before the show began. This band has 7 members (2 Daves, 2 Johns, a George, a Craig, and a JT), and with that comes crazy amount of energy that transferred from the band to the crowd. Right from the start, we saw the emergence of pits in the crowd, even though only about half of the total audience had entered the venue at that time. The saxophone helped create a wild atmosphere during the entire set. The band's overall sound was somewhat rough around the edges, and it took a little getting used-to for those people just entering the venue.

>> Seeing Veara for the second time was something I had really been looking forward to. The band has received a lot of well deserved attention since April, and it was great being able to see how their fan base has grown so much in only a few months. The energy in the venue doubled as the band took the stage, and it continued to increase through the set. Veara performed their single "My B-Side Life" as well as several other songs from their album What We Left Behind. I was able to catch up with bassist Bryan Kerr after the show, and he said that he prefers shows like this over shows played in bigger venues (such as the 2 sold-out dates the band played at the Nokia Theatre in April). Not to say that he doesn't enjoy those too, but Bryan said that it's easier to connect with fans at smaller shows, and that's what it's really all about. That's why supporting bands like Veara is so important- They're just trying to do something they love, and hopefully it's something the fans will love too.
Video: "We Have A Body Count" by Veara

>> My definition of a truly great pop punk show involves plenty of moshing, jumping around, and overall electricity in the crowd. There was plenty of that while A Loss For Words was on the stage. People jumping on top of each other to try and connect with the band and shouting the lyrics back at the singer continued to raise the energy within the crowd with no end in sight. Those few that didn't know any of the words for the band's original songs got a treat when A Loss For Words covered "I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5. They really reinvented the song, infusing it with their punk style and genuinely having fun with it. The band also played "40 Thieves", and my favorite, "Heavy Lies The Crown", which you can watch below. If you're looking for a punk band with solid vocals, A Loss For Words is the band for you.

>> Finally, the wait was over - The Wonder Years stormed out on stage, broke into "My Last Semester", and a true ruckus ensued. It seemed like the crowd was out of control before, but nothing compared to what went on once The Wonder Years began to play. The band ran through the tracklisting for their album, playing songs like "Logan Circle", "It's Never Sunny In South Philadelphia", and "Hey Thanks", all in order. The passion displayed by the band was magnified in the crowd, and I didn't see a single person standing still. Overall, it was an incredible experience being able to hear The Upsides live in its entirety.

>> Don't be too upset if you missed these holiday shows. The Wonder Years will be playing on the Vans Warped Tour this summer, so there's still a chance to see the band play your favorites.

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