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The Wonder Years At Le Poisson Rouge, Matinee, Sunday, October 8th, 2017, reviewed

Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell, the leader, in fact the extremely beloved pop punk band the Wonder Years personified, may well be a very decent human being, he comes across as a coolest in class  Social Science teacher, he is still so smug you have to wonder what he has done to save the whales lately. Telling us about being “all in” at a bar earlier Sunday afternoon after a Fountains Of Wayne song played on the jukebox and the entire bar sang along (you know, the way they do, right?), there is something so satisfied and silly about the bearded fellow. On stage performing an acoustic set with his band, an act of cupidity  rock nyc writer Mike Holcomb captured with “There’s something about unplugged versions of pop punk songs that fairly screams too big for your britches. It’s like, “You’ve stage dove to this one…now REALLY listen to it while you scratch your beard.” Helen Bach asked me why they were all so somber. And me, I wished they’d stand-up for five minutes for we the few, the height impaired. But they are righteous they veer effortlessly into self-importance, they have that 1990s PC vibe of passive aggressive centralized self-awareness.

However, yesterday I had to put aside my prejudice long enough to mention that the Fountains Of Wayne song  were covering was a really ace, “Hey Julie,” that everything else sounded great,  and that the string band they included wasn’t simply decorative, and that show me a show with songs as great as “Dismantling Summer,” they stopped the show on the first song, “The Devil In My Bloodstream,” and the stupendous “You In January” and I’ll give you Springsteen On Broadway. For all the air of self-satisfied pretentiousness in Soupy’s glazed donut beard attitude, there is a song to tell you to stuff your preconceptions.

It has been four years since The Wonder Years gave us The Greatest Generation, an album of such twisted passion and subtle fury and confusion, such an extended nightmare trap of post-adolescence, that if you were too old to share in the nightmare it was strong enough to trigger memories, as it did in my case. Since then, meh, not so much. The album and EP that followed were alright for the fans but flybynights would have passed, I shrugged through both. .They can be very strong live and quieting down the songs didn’t remotely hurt the material, the now hear this deserved a good listening. Soupy keeps the reigns of the set held very tightly, even dismisses the band for a solo take on “Madelyn,” but he is like the ringleader as opposed to the boss. I’ve heard nice things about him as a person, though the only dealing rock nyc has had  was dismissive the way Kurt Vile can be. with a  yet to be deserved arrogance.

I’d go into it but I’d rather write about the Obsessives, I arrived a little early in the hopes of catching Laura Stevenson only to discover she had laryngitis (she performed two songs with WY anyway) so I managed to catch the full voiced Nick Bairatchnyi with his fine collection of power pop melodies, from Pennsylvania of course, no surprise there.

As for The Wonder Years, as a nonfan, I think if they took a collective shave and stopped going all in, I might be convinced to be a some fan instead.

Grade: B+


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