The Wonder Years

support All Or Nothing + For Friendship´s Sake + Save Your Breath
author PP date 28/11/07 venue The Peel, Kingston, UK

Not too often do you see bands from the other side of the pond touring the UK and skipping London. But yet that's precisely what The Wonder Years did, making life slightly more difficult for me and DY to get to check out this up and coming act live. It had to be either Kingston or Watford for us, both outside of London and neither realistically accessible by train or bus from where we were coming from. Nevertheless, it was a trip worth taking to Kingston, considering how much both of us have been getting stoked on their debut album in the past few months, it's simply the best pop punk / hardcore fusion album out there in the past few years... but more about that when I eventually get around to writing that album review. This one's all about the show we went to in The Peel, Kingston, one of the smallest gig venues I've personally attended to date. Consisting of nothing but a tiny room where merch stand was literally opposite of the tiny elevated stage, the venue could fit maybe 75 people at best, and tonight there were just a few handfuls present, half of which were probably supporters of the local act For Friendship's Sake, whose last ever show it happened to be tonight.

Save Your Breath

Nonetheless, the venue seemed to be ready for some high spirited pop punk tonight. Of course the atmosphere was helped slightly by the fact that the DJ played Daggermouth non stop between the acts and the balloons everywhere across the venue, but the list of bands was the main thing tonight. Newport, UK's Save Your Breath has recently been hailed as one of the best up and coming pop punk acts from the UK, and tonight was their chance to prove why. After a false start where the band broke their first string 15 seconds into their set, their glossy pop punk took over with their singer spending about 95% of their set time off the stage, jumping back and forth the half empty room, initiating a bunch of idiot-moshers (read: For Friendship's Sake and their fans) to hardcore mosh for no apparent logical reason, ruining their set for the rest of us (remember it's a tiny venue). Though their set was energetic and largely entertaining to watch, it didn't offer any solid evidence on why they should be considered "the next big thing" from the vivid UK pop punk scene. This became especially apparent during their sublime cover of Blink 182's classic "Josie", which showed that this band was fighting in completely different leagues than their idols when it comes to writing amazing pop punk songs.


For Friendship's Sake

Next up was the band that, at least according to what I saw, had brought along the biggest fanbase tonight: For Friendship's Sake. This was to be their last show ever, and the reason why became all too clear tonight. Not only had their vocalist not shown up tonight, but the rest of the band was drunk out of their minds, and completely ignored the fact that they were actually supposed to be playing. The band forgot its own lyrics (and occasionally riffs), had some drunken idiot come on stage to mime along to lyrics that nobody knew, were completely off rhythm, stopped songs half-way and generally spent about half of their so-called 'set' telling racist jokes to their small fanbase that had actually bothered to come to the show tonight. It caught both me and DY completely by surprise, and we couldn't believe our eyes how a band could be so unserious and so disregarding to people who paid a ticket to come to a great pop punk show as tonight. While listening to their songs on Myspace it sounds like a band which could have potential, so all the great shame. But you can't really call it a set when you play two songs, only one of which has anything resembling vocals at all.


All Or Nothing

So after that disaster of a set, it was obvious All Or Nothing could do whatever they wanted on stage and still come across as a ten times better band. But lets not forget that this is another band that the guys from For Friendship's Sake constantly kept going on about as one of the "best pop punk bands" around in the Uk at the moment, so at least in my mind they had something to live up to. But keeping in mind that it hasn't been that long since bands like Fastlane were around dominating the scene in the UK, I find it har dto believe that band like All Or Nothing could be worthy followers of the crown. Sure, they had a bunch of catchy, even singalongable songs and an energetic set, and their guitarist even stormed into the crowd a couple of times during the set to rock out, but realistically, it was nothing we haven't seen or heard a million times before. So while All Or Nothing are definitely worth checking out for all Hit The Lights fans who have a bit of a soft spot on gang vocals in their pop punk, I don't see the band becoming 'the next big thing' anywhere in the near future.


The Wonder Years

"Come closer everybody, come closer" were the first words by The Wonder Years vocalist soupy, before he launched straight into a frenzy of hardcore infused pop punk godhood in the form of "Keystone Sate Dude-Core". The response from the crowd in the form of a singalong "six dudes from the keystone state..." caught the band completely by surprise, who by the looks of it had been playing to almost empty rooms all tour, or at least rooms full of fans of the supporting bands if nothing else. What you have to remember here is that The Wonder Years is known by only a good couple of hundred people in the states alone, so for them to come into the UK with an album that hasn't been promoted even the slightest bit, and have the crowd singing back words to their songs must be absolutely mindblowing. Visibly overwhelmed, the band looked like it had just received an injection of self confidence ++++ direct to vein, because the entire band lit up in a way I've seldom seen a band on their first song of the set.

Having absolutely no concern for collateral damage, vocalist Soupy went apeshit during several of the songs, storming straight into the crowd dealing out karate kicks left and right, while leading the gang shouts the next moment on stage. Surprisingly many in the crowd knew the lyrics, so Soupy didn't hesitate to pass on the mic to different members of the crowd to sing or scream along the lyrics, giving all the more energy to the already frantic band on stage. After four of our favorite songs (I mean, every song this band plays is a favorite, isn't it?), the band had small break and launched into a full blown cover of Kid Dynamite to the delight of a few fans int he crowd, before later on demanding For Friendship's Sake back on stage to sing New Found Glory's classic "Understatement", causing the entire venue to feel an equivalent of a wet dream: imagine one of the best songs by your favorite modern pop punk band being covered by your currently favorite pop punk band.. you get the point, surely.

And all too soon, it was all over. "Bout To Get Fruit Punched, Homie" was meant to be the last song of their set but the crowd convinced them to return and play "Zombies Are The New Black" to finish off a set which left everyone in the crowd out of breath, lacking any voice to speak after having sung along for well over 30 minutes straight. It's a shame the band omitted "Buzz Aldrin: 'The Poster Boy For Second Place'" because I could've seen that song just explode the place, or "I Fell In Love With A Ninja Master" which surely would've made the mosh pit retardedly violent. But perhaps it's for the better, because the short set left us craving for more.. I'm sure everyone leaving the venue will agree with me when I say I'll be freaking stoked on it when they'll eventually return back to the UK.


1. Keystone State Dude-Core

2. My Geraldine Lies Over The Delaware

3. Let's Moshercise!!!

4. "What If We [Swam] Into Nothing?"

5. Kid Dynamite cover

6. When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong

7. New Found Glory - Understatement cover

8. Bout To Get Fruit Punched, Homie

9. Zombies Are The New Black

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