The Wonder Years came out swinging with a confetti-filled hometown gig

The Wonder Years | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN |
The Wonder Years | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN |

The Wonder Years, Philly natives, and proud as f*ck of it, have been playing some of our favorite pop-punk anthems for more than 10 years now. The six-piece has been getting bigger and bigger, which is well deserved, over the course of those 10 years — starting out in basements and bars, to now, ending their biggest tour yet, playing in front of a sold out, hometown crowd at The Fillmore, right here in Philly on Wednesday night.

Last year, The Wonder Years put out their fifth studio album (via Hopeless Records), No Closer To Heaven; the band feels it’s their best one yet and I n the beginning of October it launched another tour in support of it. TWY is know for always touring with the most stacked lineups ever, and this run is no exception — the guys are joined by their friends in Seaway, Moose Blood, Knuckle Puck, and Real Friends.

As previously stated, The Wonder Years are proud of their Philly roots. So, naturally, the band decided to end their biggest tour yet with a hometown show.

Considering the fact there were five bands on this tour, the show started earlier than usual, at 6:30 p.m. with a kickoff with upbeat pop-punk by the dudes in Seaway, the Oakville, Ontario. Seaway was followed by another international band on the bill, Moose Blood, from Canterbury, England. Besides their extremely catchy tunes, these dudes already have an advantage over the others solely because of their charming English accents. The band played favorites from their debut and breakthrough album, I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time to Time, including “Bukowski”, as well as songs from their second and newest album, Blush, including the very poppy “Honey”, which had the audience singing along with the lyric “this will pass like the weather.”

Knuckle Puck | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN |
Knuckle Puck | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN |

Next up were Chicago ‘burb punks of Knuckle Puck. Now these dudes really got the crowd off their feet — their fast-pace, pop-punk songs are a favorite within the scene. The rise of the band began before they even put out their first full-length album in 2015, Copacetic, which launched them higher than they could’ve imagined. Front-man Joe Taylor asked the audience on Wednesday night if anyone has heard Copacetic before, and the venue went nuts.

The energy courtesy of Knuckle Puck’s set was kept alive and well by the next band, Real Friends.

Real Friends | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN |
Real Friends | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN |

With their sleepy eyes and bony knees, Real Friends have one hell of a fan following. As soon as these (also) Chicago ‘burb natives took the stage, the venue erupted with excitement and cheering. Opening up their set with “Mess”, a song off their newest album release, The Home Inside My Head. The energy of the band reflected onto the crowd, and vice versa, as no one was able to stand still or wipe the smile off their face (i.e. the photo above of front-man, Dan Lambton). In the middle of their set, Lambton took a moment to talk about how the past two weeks were probably extremely depressing for a lot of people in that room (cough cough Trump), but expressed that “no matter your gender, Real Friends will stand by you. No matter what color you are, Real Friends will stand by you. No matter what, Real Friends will stand by you.” This lifted the energy and mood of the concert even more (if at all possible).

The band ended their set with the first song off their first EP release from back in 2013, “Late Nights In My Car”, a fan favorite, which left the crowd eager for more, and ready for The Wonder Years to take the stage.

The Wonder Years | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN |
The Wonder Years | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN |

After what seemed like an eternity, the background music at The Fillmore faded, as well as the lights of the stage, leaving the venue pitch black. Five out of six band members took the stage in the dark, beginning to tune their instruments, and about 30 seconds later, followed by front-man, Dan “Soupy” Campbell, who began singing the words to “No Closer To Heaven”, the title track off of the band’s most recent album release. The band opted to play songs from all across their career: The Upsides, Suburbia, The Greatest Generation, and No Closer To Heaven. The band has fan favorites off of every album, but I also think this was done to show the true evolution The Wonder Years have gone through over the past 10+ years. Following “No Closer To Heaven” was “Local Man Ruins Everything.”

The mashup setlist was broken up by Soupy’s thoughtful words to the audience, expressing the band’s gratitude. He spoke about how they started out as a band playing basement shows right here in Philly, touring the country in a van, sleeping on people’s floors, dreaming of one day being able to play in front of an audience such as them. He told the crowd, “…we can never fully express our gratitude, how amazing it feels to come home to you,” bringing tears to some people’s eyes. This band means so much to so many people, including myself, so it’s pretty hard to not get worked up when talking about how far these six dudes have come, everything they’ve done for so many people, everything they stand for. Truly an amazing group of people.

Before attempting to end the band’s set with “Passing Through a Screen Door,” the second song off of their 2013 release The Greatest Generation, Soupy again spoke to the audience, targeting Philly and the people here, saying, “Philadelphia, you’ve always been our favorite place to play, and you will always be home.”

The audience wasn’t ready for The Wonder Years to be done, of course, as they hadn’t played “Came Out Swinging” yet, and EVERY TWY fan knows that it’s tradition to close their set with that song. So after about a minute of screaming, the crowd was again met with the six faces that make up The Wonder Years, who went right into “Came Out Swinging”, which ended with every single member of every band on tour running out onto stage to sing the song with the band, just as cannons on either side of the stage showered the audience with confetti while the room screamed along with the band, “I came out swinging from a South Philly basement / caked in stale beer and sweat, under half-lit fluorescents. / I spent the winter writing songs about getting better / and if I’m being honest, I’M GETTING THEREEEEEE.” An amazing end to an amazing show and an amazing tour. Check out more photos from the show below!

The Wonder Years setlist
No Closer To Heaven
Local Man Ruins Everything
I Don’t Like Who I Was Then
Washington Square Park
Dismantling Summer
Cigarettes & Saints
Brothers &
A Song for Patsy Cline
I Was Scared & I’m Sorry
There, There
My Last Semester
Thanks for the Ride
Don’t Let Me Cave In
The Devil in My Bloodstream
Palm Reader
Passing Through a Screen Door

Came Out Swinging




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