The Wonder Years played a cathartic Irving Plaza show with Fireworks & Macseal (pics, review)
"The two things that really stood out to me with Sister Cities, that I almost forgot about when we were writing [it], was connecting it to the rest of the catalog through lyrical through-lines, and writing to perform it live," The Wonder Years vocalist Dan Campbell told us in a recent interview. "So those were two of the things I really wanted to concentrate on with [The Hum Goes On Forever], making sure I did those in a way that felt honest." The Wonder Years definitely pulled off both of those things on their great new album, and the performing live aspect really came through when they brought their tour to NYC's Irving Plaza on Thursday night (10/13). They opened with one of the new songs, "Low Tide," and right off the bat they had the packed room singing along to every word. Not only did all of the new material come across just as lively and built for the stage as The Wonder Years' classics (even the acoustic-based "Summer Clothes"), but it was also clear at this show that the new album is already resonating with The Wonder Years' fanbase, and it's only been out for a few weeks. "I wanted to make a record that I loved and that [our fans] would love," Dan added in that same interview. "And if that grows us, sure, whatever. But if it doesn't, I don't give a shit. As long as I love it and they love it, mission accomplished." I'd say they definitely pulled that part off too.
The Hum Goes On Forever is one of The Wonder Years' most carefully constructed, expertly produced studio records yet, but they really are a band who seem to feel most at home on stage, and the Irving Plaza show found them at their best. They're an impossibly tight band, their three-guitar sound fills any room they play in, and Dan is a magnetic frontperson. He connects with the crowd on every level, his voice soars through the mix, and his heart-on-sleeve hooks provide pure catharsis. And as they touched on an array of songs from 2011's Suburbia I've Given You All and Now I'm Nothing to 2013's The Greatest Generation to 2015's No Closer to Heaven to 2018's Sister Cities, you were reminded why this band has maintained a diehard fanbase and continued to gain new fans every step of the way. The newer material is a massive maturation from the early stuff, but all of it has aged gracefully, all of it feels connected, and the meanings in the songs evolve over time. Hearing Dan Campbell sing the nearly-decade-old lyric "I don't want my children growing up to be anything like me" during the same set that he sang a new song dedicated to his son Wyatt was just one of the many things that showed how The Wonder Years' story is constantly being written. They don't grow out of or abandon old songs; they grow with those songs as they write impactful new ones, and their fans do too. Watching Dan Campbell bear his soul on stage can make you hold a mirror up to your own life and think about all the changes and evolutions that you and the people you know have gone through over the past 10 years. And this all happens while you're rocking out and yelling along like you would at any great show.
Right before The Wonder Years played, it was their old friends Fireworks, who were on their first tour in seven years and playing NYC for the first time since The Studio at Webster Hall in 2015. It basically felt like a co-headlining show; the place was just as packed for Fireworks as it was for TWY, and every time David Mackinder pointed the mic towards the crowd, you could hear a huge chunk of the crowd singing every word. They didn't play their great "new" (from 2019) song "Demitasse," but they did recently say that their new album is finally coming this year, so these shows felt like a nice way to welcome Fireworks back and hear a great selection of old faves before they unleash the new record on us. Also a treat: Dan Campbell came out to sing with Fireworks on "X’s On Trees."
Kicking off the night was Long Island emo band Macseal, for whom Irving was a hometown-ish show, and even for their early set the room was full and they sounded great too. Awesome night all around.
More photos by Stephanie Augello and The Wonder Years' setlist below...
The Wonder Years @ Irving Plaza - 10/13/22 Setlist (via)
Local Man Ruins Everything
Old Friends Like Lost Teeth
Flowers Where Your Face Should Be
A Song for Ernest Hemingway
Wyatt's Song (Your Name)
Passing Through a Screen Door
Pyramids of Salt
I Don't Like Who I Was Then
Raining in Kyoto
Lost It in the Lights
Don't Let Me Cave In
Cigarettes & Saints
Came Out Swinging
For more on The Wonder Years, listen to our recent podcast interview with Dan Campbell: