For music fans all over the world, concerts are a home away from home. But there’s nothing like going to see your favorite band play their hometown, and this Wednesday, November 25, 2500 fans headed to the Electric Factory to see Philadelphia’s own pop-punk heroes, The Wonder Years, play to a sold-out crowd. The Wonder Years are one of a handful of bands that have been the driving force behind Philadelphia’s flourishing punk, pop-punk, and emo scene. On Wednesday night, Philadelphia proved to be a home-away-from-home for their tour mates Motion City Soundtrack, State Champs, and You Blew It!.
The opening act You Blew It! were a somewhat mellow take on emo music, taking influence from classic acts ranging from Weezer to Jimmy Eat World. Two songs in to their set, frontman and guitarist Tanner Jones joked that “We’re The Wonder Years and we’re from here. We’re gonna play some songs by a band called You Blew It!.” Thanking everyone who came to the show early enough to watch their set, Jones showed his appreciation for the city: “Philadelphia has treated us well for a long time. If it weren’t for Philadelphia, we wouldn’t have the morale we have or the opportunity to get on tours like this, which we’re very grateful to be on- so give yourselves a round of applause.” The band then finished with their two best songs of the evening, “House Address” and “Better to Best.”
Up next was Albany, N.Y.’s State Champs, who launched right into thirty minutes of non-stop, sing-along energy with “All You Are Is History” and the immediately following “Remedy.” It was the band’s first time playing at the Electric Factory, but they’re no strangers to Philadelphia: “I’d like to think the five of us onstage have come a long way since playing a bunch of times at a place called the Barbary”, front-man Derek DiScanio said about a 200-capacity venue just a few minutes away. In addition to songs like “Deadly Conversation” and “Simple Existence” from their 2013 debut album The Finer Things, they played a handful of tracks from their brand new sophomore album Around The World and Back. Before closing their set with the fan-favorite and totally uplifting “Elevated”, DiScanio reiterated the band’s love for Philadelphia, saying “This is one of our second homes.”
Having formed in 1997 in Minneapolis, Motion City Soundtrack were the band with the longest career, but the overwhelming reaction to their Electric Factory set proved that fans still love them. The band walked on stage to the audio from the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, before immediately launching in to their signature hit, “Everything Is Alright.” The band played seventeen songs from throughout their discography, though they mostly focused on tracks from their latest effort Panic Stations and their 2005 breakout album Commit This To Memory. After “I Can Feel You”- during which frontman Justin Pierre’s voice rang out in the venue, as did the guitars- Pierre thanked the crowd for supporting live music, saying “It doesn’t get much better than this” before dedicating “It’s A Pleasure To Meet You” to “our friend Aiden.” A few songs later, they concluded their set with another fan favorite, “The Future Freaks Me Out” from their 2003 debut album I Am the Movie.
Finally, it was time for The Wonder Years to perform. Launching right in with “Brothers &” and “Cardinals” from their latest album No Closer To Heaven, it was a few more songs before the band paused between songs and frontman Dan “Soupy” Campbell spoke. “Normally we talk about our first show in the city, but it’s kinda hard to do that when we’re home,” he said (though he did mention performing at drummer Mike Kennedy’s 18th birthday party). “The point is to say thank you to everyone who’s been with us since the beginning and that doesn’t change- so thank you.” Mentioning the recent release of the album, Campbell spoke of how proud the band was of the record they created, and became even prouder upon releasing it, saying “On September 4, we put it out and it became ours.” And the fans cheered, not just for their favorite songs but because music, at its core, is about creating something people can connect to so much that they feel like it belongs to them as much as it does to the musicians who created it. The Wonder Years have played a handful of sold-out shows on this tour, but the Campbell reassured the crowd (not that they needed reassuring- the sheer honesty and love in the band’s performance was proof enough) that the luster of it all would never wear off, saying “This is everything we’ve ever dreamed about.”
After The Wonder Years left the stage, the whole crowd chanted the lyrics to “Brothers &”- “We’re no saviors if we can’t save our brothers”- till the band returned for an encore. Clearly overwhelmed in the most positive way, the band finally ended their set with “Came Out Swinging”, a song of triumph and a perfect celebration to wrap up a wonderful show.