It is a very difficult task to express my undying love for Philadelphia, PA pop-punkers, The Wonder Years. It is also very difficult to explain why the very first date of the Manscout Jamboree tour at the Loft in Lansing, Michigan, featuring The Wonder Years and Michigan’s very own Fireworks was my very first time witnessing the amazing stage presence and raw devotion and energy that each band is capable of bringing to their live performances. I can, however, easily explain why both of these pop-punk outfits are at the top of the class in their respective genre and why each and every person reading this (yes, I’m talking to you!) must make any attempt at all to see either band, because if you are a fan of stage diving, huge crowd chants, and just an overall fun time, these are the first two bands anyone should consider paying good money to see.
Though the tour was co-headlined by the aformentioned bands, that’s not to say the support for this tour is not worthy of mention. The more Punk than Pop Living With Lions and the Hardcore influenced Make Do And Mend hit the stage with relentless energy that the entire crowd immediately fed off of. Even with the unfortunate dropping of pop-punk heavy hitters Such Gold from the tour after a tragic incident involving vocalist Ben Kotin, it would be idiotic to suggest that the support for this tour is anything but incredibly solid.
Though both Living With Lions and Make Do And Mend put on enjoyable sets, it was clear that this night belonged to both of the headliners. Not even fifteen minutes after Make Do And Mend fled the stage, Fireworks literally lit up the stage as the hometown heroes, instantly getting the stage divers flying and the crowd chanting as they kicked their set off with “I Grew Up In a Legion Hall.” Mostly playing songs from their only full-length All I Have To Offer Is My Own Confusion, their new single “Summer,” and sprinkling in some older songs, Fireworks were sure to please every person in the crowd, evident by the smiles beaming from nearly every face in the room. As the iconic “whoa oh ohh oh”s of obvious fan favorite “Detroit” blasted from the speakers at the end of the set, the entire crowd exploded in the form of an enormous human thunderstorm; the lightning was the impressively vast amount of eager stage divers and the thunder was the loud roar of “You don’t need maps when you know where the sidewalk cracks!”
After the craziness subsided and Fireworks departed from their thrones as kings of Lansing, the band of the night was next up to hit the stage. The anticipation to see how well The Wonder Years could surpass the ever-impressive bar that Fireworks set was heavy in the room, and as the opening riff to “Washington Square Park” rang through this small venue in downtown Lansing, the party had officially begun. Dan “Soupy” Campbell has made himself known as one of the most energetic frontmen in the pop-punk scene, and this night lived up to that expectation. Soupy lead his fellow bandmates through much of their breakout album The Upsides while also playing some much rarer tracks to the normal TWY setlist (“I Was Scared and I’m Sorry,” “Won’t Be Pathetic Forever,” and “An Elegy for Baby Blue”). Each and every member demonstrated what a pop-punk show is all about. Unbelieveable energy, heavy crowd involvement, and the sense that there is nothing else in the world the band would rather be doing than playing on that very stage that very night. Concluding their initial set with “All My Friends Are In Bar Bands,” (not without a little help from Dave Mackinder of Fireworks, who was featured on the recorded version of the song) the crowd chanted for just one more song, and of course The Wonder Years kindly obliged by officially ending their set with “You’re Not Salinger. Get Over It.” As the song progressed, the crowd became more and more excited until all hell broke loose to the band’s surprise as nearly half of the crowd stormed the stage during the final chant of “Chin up and we’ll drown a little slower.” That exact moment of standing on the stage with Soupy and singing along to the final chorus of “Salinger,” finally shouting “We’re fucking gone!” made for one of the most memorable nights of my life.
If you are a fan of pop-punk or just love having fun at shows, check out every band featured on this tour, for they each put on one of the best shows you are likely to witness. It is quite clear that if a single person entered that building that night in a rotten mood or just with an overall bad taste in their mouth, there is not a doubt in my mind that when it was time for them to leave, they weren’t sad anymore.
Living With Lions:
A Bottle of Charades
Coolin’ With Costa
Said and Done
Mark Has Bedroom Eyes
Later Is Better
Make Do And Mend:
I Grew Up In a Legion Hall
When We Stand On Each Other We Block Out the Sun
I Support Same Sex Marriage
Geography, Vonnegut and Me
Don’t Blame It On the Ocean Floor
2923 Monroe St.
You’ve Lost Your Charm
From Mountain Movers to Lazy Losers
The Wonder Years:
Washington Square Park
I Was Scared and I’m Sorry
An Elegy For Baby Blue
Everything I Own Fits In This Backpack
Keystone State Dudecore
My Last Semester
It’s Never Sunny In South Philadelphia
Won’t Be Pathetic Forever
All My Friends Are In Bar Bands
You’re Not Salinger. Get Over It