The Wonder Years

I’ll be honest and say that the Wonder Years had to grow on me. But over the years that I’ve been listening to them, not only have I heard their sound progress but I’ve also noticed their fan base grow. Tonight’s sold out show at the Observatory was another milestone in their journey. Supported by two rising musical talents in You Blew It! and State Champs as well as inspiring veterans Motion City Soundtrack, the Wonder Years brought a great show on a Friday night.

Much to everyone’s surprise, You Blew It! took to the stage a half hour before the show’s scheduled start time (apparently this isn’t the first show for this to happen). Still, they enjoyed an already-filled room with fans eager to get the show going. With yearning vocals coupled with exceptional guitar licks, this young band from Florida roped the audience in and held their attention. The jokes and laughs shared by You Blew It! and the audience while transitioning between songs helped to break the tension and loosen the audience up. Their performance was great and only faulted by their early (and unadvertised) start time.

Up next was a band that I had managed to miss seeing live despite plenty of close-calls. Finally, the musical stars aligned and I was able to watch State Champs take the stage. They had an intense energy that really got the audience off of their feet as I dodged my first set of crowd surfers for the night. The up-beat music and very distinct vocals complimented the band’s stage presence to provide a set that fully lived up to my expectations. It always gives me goosebumps when I hear an audience collectively take over vocal duties for a band, and the audience wasn’t shy about singing for State Champs. While I’m sure there were people that hadn’t heard State Champs before, I’m willing to bet they walked off stage with new fans.

Motion City Soundtrack took to the stage next as the veterans on tour. I’ve seen this plenty of times before and they always get the audience moving. Tonight was no exception, but they were missing a key player (no pun intended) in their on-stage chemistry as it was announced that keyboardist Jesse was at home with a child on the way. The audience accepted an emergency substitution on keys and continued to dance and sing along for the rest of the set. Fans were treated with Motion City Soundtrack favorites that spanned their wide discography.

The Wonder years came on to close out the night. Their sound has definitely evolved over the years, but their stage show remains very audience-inclusive. Songs were sung word-for-word for the rest of the night and the audience surely felt the need to move along. The energy on stage was intense and was enhanced by smoke machines and lighting, something I hadn’t seen before from this band. Whether it was laying off of the microphone to let the crowd sing, or walking into the audience the band kept the fans involved and showed exactly why enough people had come to sell the show out. The Wonder Years’ fan base continues to grow from when I saw them in smaller venues, and if tonight is any indication I expect the trend to continue.

Thanks to Talia and Brittany for helping with the photo pass for tonight’s show!