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The Wonder Years Worcester Palladium MA Tuesday April 15 2014

Me and The VIPs

Me and The VIPs

I had the fantastic opportunity to see The Wonder Years on The Greatest Generation Tour.  I also had VIP tickets, meaning I got to attend an acoustic session and a q&a with the guys (courtesy of Iman!).  It was everything I could’ve hoped for and more.  It was small and personal, 50 of us and the band in this massive empty venue that was about to be packed full- the show had sold out.  2,060 people would be squished into that place, and I was thankful I was in there early so I didn’t have to deal with the crowd.

They had us all sit down with the band, and they started up their acoustic set first.  They were sweet and silly, starting off with “Dismantling Summer”, because, as Soupy said, “We just put out a music video for it so now it’s law that we have to play it all the time and shove it down your throats.”  Other than that tune, the others they played acoustic would not be performed later that night on stage.  We got our own personal little setlist. When they played “We Could Die Like This”, I’m pretty sure everyone was pretty surprised.  I never really expected to hear this song acoustic- it didn’t seem like it would fit well, but it absolutely did.  Soupy’s voice was clear and perfect, really capturing the feel of the song.  He revealed to us that the reason the lyric in the chorus is, “If I die, I wanna die in the suburbs” is because “I say ‘if’ because I will never die; I’m immortal”.  They were so goofy and it really turned them into humans, instead of the pop punk gods they really come off to be.
I loved seeing “Madelyn” acoustic live again; the last time I saw it live and acoustic was the first time Soupy ever played it.  It felt like it just came full circle, and it was fantastic and heartbreaking.  It’s a pretty sad song and it felt really intimate and that experience and that moment is just so poignant.
During the Q&A, I got to ask Soupy what the “small knife” in the song “Passing Through A Screen Door” signifies.  I have had this question since the album came out, and finally got it answered.  “Oh, I literally have a small knife on my bed stand,” Soupy explained.  “It’s from when we went to the redwood forest; I really wanted something made out of redwood, so I got a knife.  It’s good for opening packages, and stabbing intruders.”  He went on to explain that the knife would be the first thing he would pack in his Hobo Kit, cos it’s good for “self defense and opening cans of beans.”
Another girl asked if the band had any superstitions or anything they did before they went out for a show.  “I wouldn’t say superstitions, but we do get together and have a really intense moment and say a serious prayer to thank our dark lord Satan.”  He goes on to say that when TWY was on tour in England with Good Charlotte and Four Year Strong, they played a game called Werewolf.  The premise of the game is everyone closes their eyes and votes who to ‘kill’, so they were all sitting backstage in a massive circle, playing this game, one of the guys is wearing a giant robe and says, “And then the witch wakes up! Will you use the potion?”  Then a guy from the venue came in and said, “Listen guys, I don’t wanna interrupt your prayer, but when you’re done you’ve gotta get out because we have to close the venue down.”  Long story short, people at the venue thought they were all “like, crazy Wiccans or something.”  It was hilarious.
I loved seeing them up close and personal, with casual banter and telling jokes.  It was great.  However, later that night, I saw them take the massive stage in front of the energetic crowd.  When the band stepped foot on stage, the venue reached a level of volume that nearly made the whole room vibrate.  Opening up with, “There, There” thefirst song off The Greatest Generation, the album they’re supporting on this tour, it was beautiful and well-executed.  Everyone in the room knew the words, crowd surfing and throwing themselves into the air and into each other.  It was the first song and things were already getting heated.
The band played “Cul-De-Sac” and “Local Man Ruins Everything”, two definitive songs of their career, one old and one new.  The passion with which they played was radiant.  Soupy’s voice cut through all the screaming, while the pulsing sound was nearly overwhelming.  The band was spot on and tight, ridiculously loud, and not a single note was off.  It was all flawless, it was unreal and felt like a dream.
When they played “Devil In My Bloodstream”, I couldn’t help but cry.  One of their saddest songs ever, and highly requested to play live, it really hits home and gets your heart beating fast and chokes you up.  “Depression grabbed his throat and choked the life out of him slowly.  I’ve got the same blood coursing through my veins- it’ll come for me eventually,” being one of the most powerful lines of the night.  Anyone singing along around me was on the verge of tears, and rightfully so.  This band was making us feel something, and regardless of anything outside of the venue, we were all feeling it together.
Soupy told a painful story about how when he wasn’t doing so well financially and lived in a bad part of Pittsburg, he had 15 year old kids point a gun in his chest and take all of his belongings.  I’d never heard this story but it really stuck with me, and that level of comfortability and telling a roomful of strangers made it special.
Their encore tune was, “I Just Want To Sell Out My Funeral”, a conglomeration of a ton of their songs, incorporating lyrics they’ve used before that are iconic on their albums.  It was so well done, intricate and all of the transitions were perfect.  By the end of it, I didn’t even realize that I was crying and almost laughing I was so happy.  It was a fantastic performance, and one of the best shows I’d ever been to.  In a room full of fans just like me, it was nice to see TWY live and not acoustic for the first time.
And I know how it feels to be at war with a world that never loved me, but I’m not even sad anymore.

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