A Lesson In Teenage Angst: The Wonder Years and Mayday Parade Review

It’s Saturday night in Glasgow and the first night of pop punk/emo royalty Mayday Parade and The Wonder Years’ heavily anticipated co-headline tour. First up was Brooklyn’s indie pop band Pronoun. Having not yet got round to checking them out, I was going in blind, and thanks to First Bus and every middle-aged drunk person trying to use public transport, I arrived half way through their set. The band played a high energy, upbeat set with an unrivalled stage presence, despite it being their first show together. I enjoyed their set, and the crowd seemed like it too. However, I couldn’t help but wonder, were they the right band for the bill?

Next up were Californian post-hardcore up and comers Movements. With no time for introductions, they launched straight into a short and sweet set, laden with heavy riffs and poignant lyrics. For a band I had only seen on much smaller stages, they looked extremely comfortable on the Academy stage. They attracted a decent crowd for such an early set, with vocalist Patrick Miranda encouraging everyone to move down towards the stage. An extremely dedicated group of fans gathered in the first few rows, who knew every single word, and proceeded to scream every word back to them. It wouldn’t be a Movements show without some moshing and a few crowd surfers. Yet, the truly special moments came in the slower songs of the set. The spoken word ending to Full Circle evoked a crowd reaction like no other. The poignant lyrics really resonated through the audience:

“maybe someday I’d get back to who I used to be, the one I used to see in the mirror.”

It was a truly cathartic moment, one that brought a sense of community and a feeling of hope to many. There were undoubtedly some tears shed. The band closed with Daylily, one of their most popular songs. Miranda’s delivery in the chorus was jaw-dropping, and commanded the audience’s attention. I spoke to a few people who had never heard of Movements before, and they were all heading home to add them to their playlists – what more could a band ask for from a support slot?

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Pat Miranda of Movements – Credit: Nathan Matheson

It was now time for the first headliner of the night – The Wonder Years. I personally thought they deserved the closing set, and it looked to me like they drew the biggest crowd of the night. The Wonder Years have been a band for 14 years, and over that time, their sound has understandably evolved. They aren’t the angst-fuelled teens that released some of the most iconic pop-punk albums anymore.  When they released their latest album Sister Cities last year, it just didn’t click with me like their earlier material; I was interested to see how I felt about the new album tracks live. When the band opened with their title track, I was instantly blown away. Dan Campbell’s vocals had never sounded bigger or better, despite the awful sound in the venue, which appears to be a recurring theme in the O2 Academy.

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Dan Campbell of The Wonder Years – Credit: Nathan Matheson

The new album was dotted around the set, including Raining in Kyoto and Pyramids of Salt. By the time the band got to Heaven’s Gate (Sad & Sober), a track about how we constantly have to relive the deaths of loved ones through social media, I finally understood the album. Campbell makes the hard-hitting point that having to repeatedly sing songs about dark topics, musicians are constantly transported back to the feelings associated with the song-writing process. He swiftly undercuts this vulnerable moment, saying “but we wrote them, so we gotta play ‘em”.

The Wonder Years are well known for their high-energy performances, and tonight was no exception. The passion and energy that Campbell put into his performance was admirable. Even in older songs like I Don’t Like Who I Was Then and Passing Through a Screen Door, which have clearly been performed thousands of times, he still gave 110%. The set finished with old favourite Came Out Swinging. The crowd erupts and there’s plenty of moshing, a good few crowd surfers and more finger pointing than the Tories discussing Brexit.

Next up was Florida emo giants Mayday Parade. It was hard not to notice that the room seemed to empty after The Wonder Years set – so who really deserved the closing set? The remaining members of the crowd were split fairly evenly – new, young, dedicated fans, and old nostalgic ones.

The band came onto the stage full of energy, with frontman Derek Sanders spinning and kicking his way around – oddly with no socks or shoes on. They opened with single Never Sure from their latest album, Sunnyland, before playing old fan favourite Jersey from their iconic 2007 album A Lesson In Romantics. The difference in reaction to the bands’ older material was notable.

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Derek Sanders of Mayday Parade – Credit: Nathan Matheson

Now, for some reason, the Academy like to… escort the photographers out the side of the building after their time in the photo pit. Meaning I got swiftly kicked to the curb after Mayday Parade’s first three songs. I was offered the opportunity to re-enter if I handed over my camera, but I didn’t think the Photo Club would appreciate the gear they lent me being thrown around by some careless cloakroom assistant or sent home with the wrong punter. So I took this opportunity to go home.

I’ve been told by some friends that the rest of their set was great and the highlights of the night came in the form of Jamie All Over and their punk-goes-pop cover of Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know. However, I saw the setlist before they went onstage and they weren’t even playing Miserable At Best, so what was the point really?


By Nathan Matheson