“I looked at it as a fun challenge."
The Wonder Years have long been my favourite band. I've loved everything they've done - from the early days of the ignorant breakdowns and synth on 'Get Stoked On It!', all the way through to '13’s magnum opus ‘The Greatest Generation’. So when they announced a string of three shows to celebrate their 10-year anniversary in Philadelphia, I grabbed tickets, booked flights and found myself in the city of brotherly love before you could say "I’m Not Sad Anymore". You may think I’m mad, but there are plenty of good reasons why I would travel half way round the world for these six dudes from the Keystone State.
I GOT TO SEE THE SIGHTS
The Wonder Years love their hometown and their songs are peppered with references to local landmarks. Heading to Philly was a pilgrimage of sorts and there were plenty of places to tick off the list; Washington Square Park to see if the tides would turn for me? Yeah, I went there. Melrose Diner - the dingy eatery on Snyder Avenue that inspired, err, 'Melrose Diner' but according to Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell is pretty awful in reality? Did that, too. Hit up Logan Circle to see if the fountain was on or not? You bet I did (and for the record, it wasn't).
"All I’ve got left are these handfuls of fuck you"
The food in Philadelphia is pretty special. From pretzels to ice cream to mental roasted meats, the city has it all. But there's nothing like grabbing a traditional Philly Cheesesteak from Pat’s King Of Steaks. It's pretty much made any other food stuff taste like cardboard since. Thanks for the tip, Matty from A Loss For Words!
"I’m staying in eating take-out food by TV light"
BECAUSE THERE'S NO ATMOSPHERE LIKE A HOMETOWN ATMOSPHERE
At each one of The Wonder Years' three album shows, an energy filled the room that only exists when a band plays in their hometown. Bodies flew over the barrier, fists pumped the air and singalongs rang out for three nights solid; be it for ‘The Upsides’, ‘Surburbia...’ or ‘The Greatest Generation’, nothing beats a reaction like this in your own town.
"For the first time this year I feel whole, because I've been so afraid of being alone"
In some way, shape, or form, The Wonder Years' mean a whole lot to every single person that came to these shows, and I wasn't the only one who travelled halfway across the globe for them, either. And that common ground meant that for three nights, I was in a room full of people I'd never met who could easily be my best friends. These shows were a platform for this community to say thank you in the only way they know how. It was a matey weekend of supports too, as TWY roped in their friends in Fireworks, Koji, A Loss For Words and Modern Baseball to back them up. Even Evan Weiss of Into It. Over It. fame brought his old band The Progress out of retirement for the occasion.
"I don't need to pump my fists to look sweet"
BECAUSE 10 YEARS IS A KILLER ACHIEVEMENT
The Wonder Years started at the bottom playing to 15 people in basements and school gyms singing songs about pirates and astronauts. They never took anything for granted and scratched and clawed to get where they are today. Where many bands would give up and clean the slate, The Wonder Years pushed on and stuck to their guns. Their reward was selling out 3,600 tickets to their 10-year party in 10 minutes, and the shows were a true celebration of what the band has achieved over the last decade. From where I was standing, it looked as special a weekend for the men on the stage as it was for us in the pit. Here's to 10 more years of The Wonder Years.
Read this next!
As the band gear up to release a special vinyl boxset, we dive back into the whirlwind that was the release of The Wonder Years' breakout records, courtesy of the man who was at the middle of it all.
You can also pre-order frontman Rou Reynolds' new book too!
Yeah, this is beautiful.