The Wonder Years, Motion City Soundtrack, State Champs, and You Blew It! stopped by Chicago’s Riviera Theatre on October 24 on the Wonder Years’ tour in support of their newest record, No Closer To Heaven. Unfortunately, I missed You Blew It! by a few minutes, but I got to catch the other three acts, and each of their sets alone makes this tour worth seeing.
State Champs was second on the bill for the night. This band has been on the radar for a while and for good reasons; their catchy, energetic pop-punk has caught the attention of many people because it’s different—and it sounds great. I think a lot of people have been waiting for a pop-punk band like State Champs to come up, and they’re taking full advantage of that. The band just put out a new record titled Around The World and Back on October 16 via Pure Noise Records. They played a few songs off the new record like “All You Are Is History” and others off of The Finer Things like “Deadly Conversation” and “Elevated.” They played a short set lasting about 30 minutes, but the everyone was pumped and there was a lot of crowd surfing throughout, which is interesting to see for an opening band as that usually doesn’t happen too often.
Current Substream cover star Motion City Soundtrack was up next and by the end of State Champs’ set, the amount of people on the GA floor, which was already a lot to begin with, had grown tremendously. This band has withstood the test of time and has done so incredibly well. The catchy pop of Motion City Soundtrack had the whole room singing as soon as they began their set. They played well-known songs like “L.G. FUAD,” “Everything Is Alright,” “Attractive Today” and newer songs like “Lose Control,” “Gravity” and “It’s A Pleasure To Meet You” off their newest release, Panic Stations, which was released in September via Epitaph Records. Panic Stations was a good chunk of their set and while you can expect to hear voices die down a bit while a band plays their newer material, the crowd kept up. Their set was much longer than the previous, but the energy was obvious throughout the entirety of it. I’ve never seen Motion City Soundtrack live before but they left a pretty great impression on me as they looked like they were having just as much fun as the crowd while simultaneously sounding great.
The Wonder Years, the most anticipated band of the night, walked up onstage, beginning with the slow instrumentals of “Brothers &” off of their newest release, No Closer To Heaven, which was released in September via Hopeless Records. Before the lyrics were slated to begin on the actual track, the crowd began passionately singing the single line, “We’re no saviors if we can’t save our brothers.” They went into “Cardinals” next, where emotions were high onstage and among the crowd, especially with the lines “So if you call me back or let me in/I swear I’ll never let you down again/I know the devil you’ve been fighting with/I swear I’ll never let you down again” and the line that repeats a few times throughout the record, “We’re no saviors if we can’t save our brothers.” The material on this new record is heavy, and it translated beautifully live in the passion that the people in the crowd were singing with. They then went into “Passing Through A Screen Door” off of 2013’s The Greatest Generation and then to the anthemic “Local Man Ruins Everything” off of 2011’s Suburbia: I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing. They surprisingly played a lot of older songs on this tour like “Melrose Diner” and “Hoodie Weather.” The next song they played off of NCTH was the slower, most proper ‘love song’ the band has on their discography, “You In January,” which was a really interesting song to see played live. They kept going with new songs like “A Song for Ernest Hemingway,” “The Bluest Things On Earth” and “I Don’t Like Who I Was Then.” They closed out their 17-song set with “Don’t Let Me Cave In” and came back for the encore after the crowd chanted, “We’re no saviors if we can’t save our brothers” for a few minutes in the dark with the stage lit by a few dim lights. They came back out and played what I consider the most emotionally intense and powerful song off the new record, “Cigarettes & Saints” and finally closed out the night with “Came Out Swinging.” The Wonder Years and their fans never cease to amaze me, whether that be with new studio albums or their live shows, and this tour definitely did not disappoint.