At this point, The Wonder Years are pop punk legends quintessential to the genre. Not to be confused with the coming-of-age TV series of the same name, The Wonder Years have earned their stripes. After having been a band for close to 20 years now, the Philly natives continue to release music adored by their fans for deeper reasons that their sound.
On Sunday, March 26th at the hotel turned movie theater turned concert venue, The Queen, The Wonder Years played their second sold out show in a row on the last night of their The Hum Goes on Forever U.S. Tour. There’s something especially magical in the air at a hometown The Wonder Years show. The band performed to a room packed with their biggest supporters, a feat never too difficult for their fans fueled by Philly pop punk pride. Wilmington, Delaware may not be their exact place of origin, but the obligatory Eagles chant sounded to remind them they were close to home.
The band came out and immediately ripped through two songs off of their latest full-length release, The Hum Goes on Forever. Written about vocalist Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell’s son, “Wyatt’s Song (Your Name)” was a vividly endearing song. As Soupy belted lyrics like “Your name’s the only one I like” and “I’m on your side,” the love for his family poured out of every word and radiated this affectionate fondness incomparable to any ordinary feeling.
Soupy was like a wise older brother or father figure, one that bestowed his experiences and gained knowledge from them onto you. When he spoke, he soothed with his sentiments and stories of his past. When he sang, he allowed those experiences to fuel his voice as he freed all of the feelings that came with them. He took a moment between each song to explain how it came to be, encouraging everyone who may be experiencing similar things to cope with their situation. The Wonder Years had a song for every experience on life’s journey and, in that, the ability to somehow tell everybody everything they needed to hear when they needed to hear it most.
They had songs of self-reflection and searching for empathy in tracks like “I Don’t Like Who I Was Then” written about, “Trying to be a better person today than you were yesterday and a better person tomorrow than you are today.” They had songs of coping with death in tracks like “Cardinals,” whose lyrics inspired a powerfully anguish-releasing chorus. “We’re no saviors if we can’t save our brothers” filled what room was left in between the equally hurting and healing souls. Additionally, they had songs about love.
Soupy prefaced the next song by identifying it as the love song of the setlist, sharing that there had been 9 engagements throughout the rest of the tour. During “You in January,” couples held each other and finger pointed their admiration for one another into the room. As they sang “You were the one thing I got right,” the room became warmly driven by an affinity for others and the band that brought them together.
Despite the outpouring of appreciation and participation being thrown the band’s way, Soupy expressed a level of anxiety that came with performing for him. He referred to his Imposter Syndrome, noting how loud the cheers for up and coming pop punk powerhouse supporting acts Hot Mulligan and Carly Cosgrove were and how he questioned if he could live up to them. Immediately, a thundering cheer resounded and everyone’s respect for the band was undeniable.
As the night neared its end, Soupy prepped the crowd for the third to last song by pleading, “I want this to be the loudest song you sing all night” before heading into “Passing Through a Screen Door.” And the crowd undoubtedly delivered.
The crowd erupted into Soupy’s retrospectively contemplative lyrics: “Jesus Christ, I’m 26. All the people I graduated with all have kids, all have wives, all have people who care if they come home at night. Well, Jesus Christ, did I fuck up?” The projectile of every passionately screamed lyric regarding the shared human experience of growing up and questioning everything vaporized any previously felt angst to dust and a sense of support from both sides permeated the room. Each one of us has something special that night; each other.
The Wonder Years ended the night with their most notable song, “Came Out Swinging.” As the lyrics “Came out swinging from a South Philly basement” sounded, they bridged the gap between band and fan and served as a reminder that none of us are really that different from one another. We’re all experiencing the difficulty of defeat and the accomplishment of new milestones. We all start somewhere; we all make mistakes, we all learn, and most importantly, we all grow. And we can do this together.
Experiencing The Wonder Years live is a viscerally therapeutic and thoughtful experience, one that inspires everybody to be the best version of themselves despite life’s hardships and in light of life’s positive experiences. Being able to create an environment where one can freely feel with a community of others doing the same thing is rare, but with The Wonder Years standing not only in front of you, but by your side as well, anything is possible.
Show Date: 03.26.23 | Wilmington, DE @ The Queen | The Wonder Years Anthems for the Human Experience