As The Wonder Years frontman Dan “Soupy” Campbell said Sunday night in Asbury Park, Sister Cities is an album about empathy and connectivity.
While this album was specifically written with those themes in mind, The Wonder Years have always created an interconnected community at each one of their shows — and Sunday night’s Asbury Park show was no exception.
Brooklyn-based melodic punk band Worriers opened up the sold-out show, setting an upbeat tone for the night and getting fans excited for what was to come. They were followed by Tiny Moving Parts, playing a collection of songs from all four of their LPs. They had the crowd on their feet almost instantly, bringing the electrifying energy they’re known for.
Keeping the energy high, Tigers Jaw took the stage next. Playing favorites like “Chemicals”, “Plane vs Tank vs Submarine”, and “Hum”, it was easy for Tigers Jaw to steal everyone’s hearts. Crowd surfers were constant, and the crowd kept moving even during the slower songs.
After a long break between sets, the first notes of “Pyramids of Salt” rang out through the packed venue. The atmosphere instantly transformed into something that felt bigger than any one person, fans rushing forward and belting out every word. The Wonder Years started with a mix of songs from their latest two releases, No Closer To Heaven and Sister Cities, moving into their older material later in the set. While the focus was on the newest releases, the band played longtime fan favorites like “Coffee Eyes”, “Came Out Swinging”, “Cul-de-sac”, and “I Was Scared and I’m Sorry”. Moshing and crowd surfing were constant, yet there was a sense of community and family that could be felt, even watching from the balcony. During the most emotionally charged songs, fans came together arm in arm to find solidarity and comfort in one another.
Towards the end of the set, the band broke out their acoustic guitars, treating the fans to a mini Burst & Decay set — reimagining acoustic renditions of tracks like “A Song For Earnest Hemingway” and a 90s alt-rock style version of “Dismantling Summer”.
The band closed the show with “Passing Through A Screen Door” and “Cigarettes & Saints”. As with every The Wonder Years show, it was one of catharsis and community, proving the band has no intention of slowing down anytime soon.