On February 25, 2020, The Wonder Years were set to play at the House of Blues in Orlando, FL. Through the heavy rain and massive traffic, I drove 2.5 hours to go and see this pop-punk classic. Who would of known this was about to be my last live show due to COVID-19.
For over a decade, The Wonder Years have been a pop-punk band to reckon with. This band is a huge success with their main key factor, they have a commitment to doing what they love which is creating music that truly matters such as having a few of their songs address things such as addiction and cancer.
With that being said, I arrived to the House of Blues with just enough time to find a spot in the full house of individuals coming to see The Wonder Years put on a show. Walking into this concert, I had no idea what to expect as this was my first time seeing this band.
To my surprise, the band opened up with an acoustic set that was comprised of about 8 to 9 songs. They opened with “Washington Square Park” continued into “Coffee Eyes” and by that time had everyone hyped to hear “It Must Get Lonely”.
Taking a break from their acoustic set, Dan Campbell took sometime to go into why the band decided to release an acoustic album of all their past songs. He went into say sometimes we forget about these old classics and now with them being acoustic not only can we revisit them live, but we are now able to recognize how maybe they are a bit better with an acoustic feel to it.
The band closed the acoustic set with my personal favorite “You in January”. From there, we were put on a brief intermission. The Wonder Years returned to the stage with a massive energy and sound that is oh so familiar to everyone involved.
Campbell took time to introduce “Pyramids of Salt” and told the audience this song was about feeling powerless while having to watch loved ones suffer through a disease that has no answers. He then reminded everyone in the crowd that we are in fact not powerless, we all have voices and we can speak out. He slagged off the system that makes individuals choose between buying insulin or buying groceries which ultimately leads many of us afraid to go to the doctor because we are unsure what the medical bill will be. This speech brought the entire audience together as we screamed against fear.
The entire rest of the night is a blur from moshing to screaming, we all loved every second of it. They sang crowd favorites such as “The Bastards, The Vultures, The Wolves,” “Cigarettes and Saints,” and “The Ocean Grew Hands to Hold Me.” The set was about 2 hours long and this was when The Wonder Years told us, there is one song left and we need to give it our all. There would be no encore and this is it.
“Came Out Swinging” was the closer. The crowd went into a frenzy and the House of Blues was filled with moshers, crowd surfers, and people finding themselves in the heart of a punk show reveling in the moment.
This double set was a great opportunity to really watch a band showcase themselves in a raw manner as well as their loud and electrifying selves. Overall, (after this virus passes), when The Wonder Years come back on tour, take the time to go catch their set. I will say it was worth the 2.5 hour drive in the rain.