I don’t get to a lot of concerts anymore, and living in Germany means a lot of my favorite bands don’t get out this way very often. So seeing The Wonder Years in Munich was a real treat.
The Wonder Years (from Pennsylvania, USA) has probably been my favorite band since I got into them in 2015. Something about their music and lyrics just speaks to me. But unfortunately, I never got a chance to see them live back in the states.
Since they were coming so close I decided to make the effort, although I suppose close is a bit relative. Some might posit that the two plus (actually four, thanks Flixbus) hour trek to Munich, overnight stay, and three hour trip back the next morning is way too much effort for a concert.
Punk shows are one of the few remaining outlets available to rock out, unwind and unleash some raw emotion. I also don’t often meet others who have similar taste in music – but at a concert it’s the main criteria. Where else can you sing along at the top of your lungs, to music that makes you feel something – while smashing around in the pit? Where else can you connect with some brits who were following the band around Europe and had tickets to three more shows?
Due to the aforementioned issues related to the bus and friday evening traffic, I arrived late and mostly missed the two opening bands: Free Throw and The Winter Passing. I caught the last two or three songs from Free Throw, but they didn’t really resonate with me. They seemed to be talented and played pretty tightly – I just couldn’t get into it.
Sidenote-> Strom, in Munich is a very cool venue – the perfect place for a club show. For starters, it’s right next to the underground so extremely accessible, and it’s small. Unfortunately I couldn’t find specifics but capacity can’t be much more than 200 people. Maybe the bands would appreciate a bigger crowd, especially so far from home. But for a fan like myself that amount of people is really a sweet spot. Oh yeah, they also had cold beer and great sound – clear but thick and powerful.
Before playing a few tracks from their older albums Suburbia… and The Greatest Generation, The Wonder Years kicked the evening off hard with the title track from their latest album Sister Cities (released April 6, 2018). It rocked. The band was tight and Dan Campbell (the singer) sounded almost as good live as on the record.
Throughout the hour-plus set (setlist below), the band took us on a sonic time travel adventure through their discography, playing snippets from every major record. I was thrilled to hear some of the older songs, and especially stoked that those older jams happened some of my favorites. I wasn’t expecting “Don’t let me cave in” from Suburbia… and “Cardinals” from No Closer to Heaven.
The only really unfamiliar song was “Washington Square Park” off of The Upsides. I never really got into that album, but the rest of the crowd seemed to appreciate it, and it is a great track to jump around to.
The final delight of the evening was them kicking off the two song encore with “Devil in My Bloodstream” – backed up by the female singer from The Winter Passing. She fit well, contrasting Campbell. I’m not sure if anyone else caught the irony, but they called it a night by playing “Came out Swinging”.
Overall it was a wonderful show at a great venue. The band played really well – always staying on beat and together but never letting the intensity fall. I have to mention again that Dan Campbell is a phenomenal singer. I’ve seen enough bands live (especially really famous ones) where the live singing is so terrible it makes the music almost unbearable. But not so with The Wonder Years. The backup vocals were spot on and Dan hits all the right notes (even the high ones!) and gets help from the crowd which makes for a fun night.
It was definitely worth the journey to Munich.