The first band on the agenda for The Wonder Years’ headlining tour at Mr. Smalls Theatre in Millvale, PA was a band by the name of Worriers. Worriers started the night off with music that was easy to vibe with right off the bat. Their music was driven by simple melodic motives that were primarily quick in nature and often repetitive. Through this, the band was able to supply their audience with a variety of instrumental interludes while keeping the pace of their set rather progressive. Additionally, the band kept the space between songs rather slim, so that the audience was constantly fed musical material. The lead singer stopped here and there to talk about the next selection in their set. When she did so, she talked with a slight shake in her voice that came across almost anxious. This helped the audience to see a more sensitive side of the artist, which made them more relatable and personable. Thus, when someone takes this into consideration, it can be said that their set was high energy for their aesthetic. Furthermore, this band put on a solid performance for the audience, but it wasn’t a ground breaking presentation either.
Tiny Moving Parts
The next band on the concert is the energetic trio: Tiny Moving Parts. Before moving to the review of the actual event, it is notable that Tiny Moving Parts is one of the best live bands in this scene of music, so it was no surprise that the trio came onto the stage and left every ounce of energy that they had. Moving to the music that they played, the band presented music from their newest release as well as old favorites. Through these selections, the band gave their audience ornate instrumentals that spun into over the top instrumental breakdowns. These breakdowns featured every facet of the band’s unique style, putting a certain emphasis on the special technique that the lead singer uses when playing the guitar. Also, throughout their tracks, the band uses silence to break up the musical tension and to create juxtaposing rhythms that almost startle the audience. Listening to such techniques when recorded sound cool, but when they are presented live, the band is able to stretch the uniqueness of such a technique, which enhances their musical appearance more. Throughout their set, the band got a huge response from the crowd, which doesn’t come as a surprise. This band puts their 10000000000% into every live performance, and you can see their genuine happiness as they move from track to track. With that being said, one should expect big things in the future from this band, and they should go out of their way to see them live if all possible. A fantastic performance given by a fantastic artist; thus, forming the perfect concert opener for this tour.
A tough act to follow, that’s for sure, but next up was the incomparable Tigers Jaw. Tigers Jaw shifted the feel of the venue slightly, for the majority of their music sits on the more indie/alternative/pop punkish side of the spectrum. Therefore, the audience was able to relax back slightly, but that doesn’t mean the crowd didn’t hesitate to move during their more “bumping” selections. When looking into their music, the band presented selections that stretched their musical influences by giving soft, medium as well as some heavy hitting grooves. This gave the audience the opportunity to vibe with them or to move around with them if they felt so inclined. It is also notable that the band gives their listeners symmetric music with a mixture of timbres due to their instrumentation and vocal-types. To further, the band uses a female and male singer, which gives them vocal depth; also, the band works with a keyboard throughout each of their selections to add tone color here and there. Overall, Tigers Jaw put on a fantastic performance, and they were a perfect addition to this concert line-up.
The Wonder Years
The band that everyone in attendance was waiting for; the notable, unforgettable act: The Wonder Years. The Wonder Years provided their fans with a set that hit base on every one of their albums, which made for a fun-fill, jam-packed evening. When thinking in terms of the tracks they chose to showcase, it felt as if the band worked with slow progressions; meaning, they would start with a softer song and then progress in intensity, and then they would repeat that same process until the encore (even though they did the same thing for the encore as well). Looking at their music specifically, the band presented pop punk traditional riffs with silent juxtapositions that made the instrumentals of each track pop. The band also added keyboard and drum set altering tones to present the audience with new tone colors to match the aura of some selections, which enhanced their overall performance all the more. Through this, the band was able to drive home the meaning of each work by allowing the back and forth between the vocalist and the audience taking the lead; however, when the vocalist would take the lead, he would sing each song as if he were acting out the specific emotion/story behind it. This was very interesting to watch and experience because this new approach to live performance action made the audience feel the meaning of the piece rather than just hearing the words. The pace of the set remained steady as the band quickly transitioned from work to work. This allowed them to play more than a handful of songs within their small timeframe to play. When it came time for the encore, the band joked that they were going to play way more than just one song, for they wanted to present songs from the latest acoustic release. This was a nice moment for the audience because it is very uncommon for a band to dive into an encore that is well over one or two songs. Lastly, one of the most significant moments to take from this night was that the band brought a cake for a fan because this was her 100th “The Wonder Years” show. This moment was really sweet, for they personalized it specifically for her, and it showed the genuine nature of the band. Overall, everything about their set was more than enjoyable, and if you want a good band to crowdsurf and mosh to: they are it!
Overall, I would give this concert a 4.5 out of 5 stars. I am giving this tour such a score for several reasons. The first reason is that this tour, especially for being the first night of tour, was jam packed with good music. Each band came out and played their heart out, which made for a night filled with banging pop punk music. The other reason that I landed on this score was because the crowd resonated well with the music that was played because each band delivered their music in a way that would make the audience want to know it, even if they didn’t. The only reason this tour fell short from a 5 out of 5 was because the mood dropped slightly when moving to Tigers Jaw because of the difference of energy between their music versus Tiny Moving Parts’ repertoire. Regardless, this is a tour everyone should check out while they can, and if not this tour, check out all these bands when you have the chance!