An album turning 10 years old is always going to evoke a visceral reaction from those who loved it back when; usually some variation of “I’m old!”, particularly when the album’s most memorable lyric is about being 26 years old and wondering if you fucked up because the people you went to high school with are now all married with kids and you aren’t. This is likely especially true for the person who wrote that lyric, Dan Campbell–now a father of two. And I’d be willing to bet that a lot of the people who came to NYC’s Terminal 5 last night (9/10) for the second night of The Wonder Years‘ The Greatest Generation 10th anniversary tour first heard this album as confused twentysomethings and came to celebrate its birthday as thirtysomethings, who are at least confused about different things now. There were also probably plenty of people who had a much different experience than that and/or caught onto the album at various other points throughout the past 10 years. As last night’s show was a reminder of, The Greatest Generation is the gift that keeps on giving.
The Wonder Years opened the show the same way the album opens, with the climactic build of “There, There,” and by the time of the very first “I’m sorry I don’t laugh at the right times,” the whole crowd was fully sucked into this album’s spell. It should go without saying at this point, but The Wonder Years are an absolute force on stage and this show was no different. One of the reasons The Greatest Generation is one of The Wonder Years’ best albums is because it found them firing on all cylinders in the studio–shoutout producer Steve Evetts, who was in attendance last night–but also because it fully captured the energy of their live show and was stacked top to bottom with songs that felt built for the stage. So seeing them perform this album from start to finish, surrounded by a packed room of people who knew every word to every song, felt like the way it was meant to be experienced. There’s something special about experiencing a whole piece of work in person, sequenced in exactly the way you remember it, and there’s something special about being part of a crowd that goes off to deep cuts that The Wonder Years almost never play. (Dan encouraged the crowd to make them regret not playing those songs as much over the years… seemed like it worked!) It felt less like a nostalgia event and more like a celebration of how much this album–and this band in general–has endured.
The show also offered so much more than nostalgia because The Wonder Years played a second set that leaned heavily on last year’s The Hum Goes On Forever, which is truly one of the best TWY albums, if not the best, as Dan himself referred to it on stage (with an apologetic disclaimer that he was about to say something a little arrogant, but also something he truly believes). They also worked in other favorites from throughout their career, and the recently-released The Greatest Generation outtake “GODDAMNITALL.” I’ve seen anniversary shows where the second set of newer material gets a much milder reaction from the crowd, and this was not one of those shows at all. It’s obvious that this is a band that’s still growing, and that’s cultivated a fanbase that’s still growing with them.
The night was also about more than nostalgia because The Wonder Years recruited three great newer bands to open: Chicago pop punks Action/Adventure, Philly/NJ mathy emo band Sweet Pill, and Connecticut hardcore-infused emo band Anxious. Action/Adventure’s spit-shined pop punk is very much in the same ballpark as the early Wonder Years stuff (and The Starting Line and The Story So far, etc, etc), and they pull it off expertly, and sing about topics that carry a lot more weight than your stereotypical whiny pop punk songs about unrequited love. They sang and spoke on stage about the racism they’ve experienced as a pop punk band entirely made up of people of color, and their set left a big impact.
Sweet Pill played a handful of songs from their great 2022 debut album Where The Heart Is (Topshelf Records) and one not-yet-released new song that sounded especially awesome, and it was very easy to see why this band has been on the rise lately. Their mathy, tappy tendencies were as tight as can be, and singer Zayna Youssef already looks like a star on stage, with so much power and command over the loving crowd who clearly knew the words to a bunch of their songs.
Anxious (who were without bassist Sam Allen due to injury) have also been on the rise for good reason, and that was very evident at the Terminal 5 show too. The pit opened up the moment they launched into set-opener “Your One Way Street” from their 2022 debut LP Little Green House (Run For Cover), and there were bodies moving, fists raising, and tons of people yelling along as they powered through other highlights of that LP, their older hardcore-tinged fan fave “Small,” their recent power-poppy single “Where You Been,” and a brand new song that they were playing for the second time ever that also sounded particularly great. (The first time was at TWY’s Philly fest one day earlier.) This band really brings it, and their dual-vocal approach really comes to life at the shows, with vocalist Grady Allen bringing the charisma and the hardcore dance moves and guitarist Dante Melucci bringing the soaring accompaniment. The Greatest Generation 10th anniversary tour was not just a celebration of a stone cold classic album, but a reminder that the future of emo, pop punk, and melodic hardcore is in very good hands.
The Greatest Generation was also recently given a 10th anniversary reissue, and we’ve got an exclusive splatter vinyl variant up for pre-order now, limited to 500.
Check out a TWY video, a video of Anxious’ new song, and the tour poster with all remaining dates below…