"The Greatest Generation" Embraces Tempe

"The Greatest Generation" Embraces Tempe
The Wonder Years at The Marquee Theatre in Tempe, Arizona

On the first weekend of cooler summer weather, The Marquee Theatre welcomed the Philadelphia based band, The Wonder Years, for the second time in 2023. Their “The Greatest Generation” tour focuses on the 10 year anniversary of said album and featured an interesting twist I hadn’t seen before.

However, before The Wonder Years took the stage, the Chicago band Action/Adventure kicked things off with their boisterous pop-punk tracks to welcome the crowd into the evening. Following Action/Adventure was Sweet Pill and their emo hardcore pop hits. The quintet, led by vocalist Zayna Youssef, ripped up the stage with attitude and conviction. Zayna’s vocals were a sweet display of power and electricity, and her reception when coming out for part of The Wonder Year’s song represented that.

Anxious was in direct-support for this tour, and the Connecticut group entered with a swagger and sense of ownership. Vocalist Grady Allen was bouncing with energy and even pulled out the rarely seen two step with such ease. One of the most captivating moments was during their song “Sunsign” when a trio of singers provided a barrage of eloquent melodies and harmonics. Drummer Jonny Camner tore up the stage while those on strings ripped their explosive chords throughout the evening. Anxious provided a great stage for The Wonder Years to enter after this wonderful performance.

Very few bands make it to the point of being together 10 years after the band was formed, let alone after an album was written. The Wonder Years are an exception having been together since 2005. The album, “The Greatest Generation” made its debut 10 years ago. Prior to this album’s release, the group played an unheard of four shows within 24 hours to promote the album's release. Their 4th LP would go on to be one of their more influential albums to date.

In typical fashion, The Wonder Years kicked off with the first song on the album, ‘There, There’ and the night was underway. By the time the 5th song, ‘The Bastards, The Vultures, The Wolves’, hit, the crowd was bouncing with energy and exuberance. Lead singer, Dan “Soupy” Campbell was firing on all cylinders before a quick change in mood when ‘The Devil in My Bloodstream’ came on. Dan led the ballad whilst playing the piano in mesmerizing fashion. Zayna, from Sweet Pill, came out during the second verse to join in on the action. The song culminated with a large group hug taking place in the crowd, creating a truly beautiful moment.

The Wonder Years continued through their 10 year reunion album finishing with ‘I Just Want to Sell Out My Funeral’. After the conclusion of  the album, the band did something I've never experienced at a concert before. They took a 5 minute break backstage and then came back out to play some of their classics. This simple gesture provided the ability for those in attendance to have closure on the album, before picking it back up for eight more songs.

The Pennsylvania based band gave a professional performance while hitting their most popular songs. Songs ‘Oldest Daughter’, ‘Low Tide’ and their latest single ‘GODDAMNITALL’ showed their recent style and ability to still captivate. The evening was closed out with their most known song, ‘Came Out Swinging’ highlighting their ability to still be swinging 18 years from the band’s genesis.

It’s always a strange feeling leaving the show of a band that’s been around for so long. You can’t help but wonder if this is the last time you’ll see them perform before they hang it up. Luckily for us, Dan reiterated that the group has no plans to slow down and will continue writing and touring into the foreseeable future. That said, time flies and it’ll be gone before you know it. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to one of pop-punk’s iconic bands before their wonder disappears.