I was allowed to go to Warped Tour alone for the first time in 2011. It was a stacked line up for any scene 14 year old, A Day To Remember, 3OH!3, and enough ska bands to buy out an entire Vans store. Other than eating 4 hot dog rolls the only thing I genuinely remember from that year was seeing The Wonder Years for the first time. Suburbia had come out the month before and I had ample time to prep for the gang vocals. After their set, I assured myself that I needed a Hank the Pigeon tattoo with “head above water” around it. I’m never not been in a weird place in my life but at then it felt like I had it all figured out.
Fast forward to last Sunday night, The Wonder Years are back in town at the House of Independents. Kids were lined up around the block before the morning dew could dry up. My pre-show jitters felt a little different, I wasn’t worried about running into any punishers or the barricade breaking (which did happen the last time I shot The Wonder Years in Philly and it was absolutely terrifying). For the last month, I’ve been avoiding listening to their new record like it’s the plague. I haven’t read any reviews, I hadn't watched the music videos, nothing. I wasn’t afraid of not liking Sister Cities, I’ve been growing with The Wonder Years all these years and I was afraid of not being there yet.
After Worriers, Tiny Moving Parts, and Tigers Jaw, The Wonder Years came out to the sold-out crowd. The first song, Pyramids of Salt, was slower and somber than what I was used to with The Wonder Years. I took a step back to watch the crowd and see if they still elicited the emotive responsive like the used to. Being in the barricade for the previous bands I saw a lot of folks nod along, little boogie in the shoulders, and one or two crowd surfers at most. Looking into the crowd during the first song I saw people with their heads in their hands, walking a fine line between teary-eyed and actually crying.I didn’t feel like I was back in 2011 but I still felt like I was right where I was supposed to be. No matter where you are in life The Wonder Years find a way to make you feel less alone and hopeful.