The Wonder Years | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com
Philly musical underdogs The Wonder Years pack it in at Boot & Saddle for Peace & Noise
2018’s Peace & Noise concert series wrapped on Wednesday, Jan. 31 with an immensely sold out show headlined by Philadelphia’s The Wonder Years.
Given the collective high the city has been riding on since the Eagles earned the NFC Championship title—and advanced to Super Bowl LII this Sunday—the second-annual set of benefit concerts could not have ended on a more raucous note.
Following sets from Brooklyn’s Nervous Dater (whose tightly written LP Don’t Be a Stranger remains among 2017’s hidden gems) and Philly flagship punk band Mannequin Pussy, The Wonder Years took their place onstage—in hometown hero fashion—to a room-encompassing rendition of “Fly, Eagles, Fly,” kicking off a 15-song set composed of material spanning their now-dense ouvre of working class, near-theatrical, shoutalong pop punk.
Vocalist Dan Campbell (in a Malcolm Jenkins jersey) knows how to work a crowd. He and his band have been doing this for more than a decade now, and The Wonder Years have long since graduated beyond playing in venues like Boot and Saddle. His gratitude for the privilege of coming full circle, to to speak, back to small South Philly stage, was palpable, both when performing fan favorites like “Local Man Ruins Everything” and “Passing Through a Screen Door,” and when speaking directly to Wednesday night’s audience.
Campbell thanked concertgoers profusely for selling the show out in less than one minute upon ticket sales going live, as this evening’s supported nonprofit was Rock to the Future. Ticket sales helped exceed Rock to the Future’s annual fundraising goal for 2017.
Between piles of crowd surfers, breathless singing from an audience that felt a genuine and tangible connection to a group of performers, and an imminent Eagles Super Bowl (plus a late-set “Fuck Tom Brady” chant from the crowd), everything just made sense. The Wonder Years is a band whose work centers the underdog, narrating class struggle and midlife anxieties in a way that feels uniquely Philadelphian. To come home to a city that’s ready to proudly air its cultural underdog status on a worldwide stage can’t help but feel just a little special.