Rock City boasted a line-up of dreams for pop punk fans in Nottingham last Thursday with a co-headline show from The Wonder Years and Mayday Parade, supported by Pronoun and Movements.
New York rockers Pronoun made a strong start to the evening with a contagious feel-good vibe. The band offered dreamy vocals and interesting synth loops, accompanied by an uninterrupted sense of enjoyment from the performers – something very refreshing to see. Their hits, such as “just cuz you can’t”, were well received and the group showed promising signs for the future, revealing a taste of their forthcoming EP with their new single, “Stay”.
Next up were Movements, and the Californian emo quartet were on top form as they blasted through a short but sweet set of their hits, taken mostly from their 2017 critically acclaimed debut album ‘Feel Something’. Despite personally knowing few of their songs, the emotion in frontman Patrick Miranda’s voice was unmistakable as he sang lyrics about his own personal struggles with OCD and other mental health issues, and it was clear to all in attendance why Movements are being highlighted alongside contemporaries such as Citizen as the leading lights in modern emo’s revival.
Between sets, the room filled rapidly and within moments of reaching full capacity The Wonder Years walked out to receive loud applause. The set kicked off with “Sister Cities”, the energetic lead single and title track of their latest album. It had been 4 years since I last saw the six-piece live and their improvement was instantly noticeable. They have clearly become masters of their instruments and frontman, Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell gifted us with a performance oozing sincerity and emotion from the get-go. The band powered through fan favourites spanning almost a decade, accompanied by a loud chorus from the standing area throughout.
What became evidently clear from hearing them play was just how much their music has evolved over the years. Once a fairly typical pop punk band, they have transformed, adopting a sound more reminiscent of alternative rock and this resonated powerfully throughout the room. Half-way into the set, rhythm guitarist Matt Brasch traded his Fender for a glockenspiel and the band offered the crowd a break from their fast-paced anthems with “Flowers Where Your Face Should Be” – a beautifully layered song filled with impressive musical technicality. “If you came here with somebody you love, I want you holding onto them. Or I want you holding onto the light” – Everything that left Soupy’s mouth was truly poetic. The highlight of the set came from their last number, “Came Out Swinging”.
Despite being released in 2011, this song still lit a spark amongst the crowd that triggered pure chaos. A massive circle pit formed and the atmosphere in the room became pure electricity with crowd surfers appearing left, right and centre. “I know you know the words. Let’s find out how loud you can sing them” was a challenge that fans did not take on half-heartedly. The Wonder Years showed Nottingham that not only are they talented, genre-nonconformist musicians but also expert crowd workers. If this performance hadn’t warmed everyone up for Mayday Parade, I don’t know what could have.
Mayday Parade took to the stage amid the rabid screams of their fans, touring in support of their latest release, ‘Sunnyland’. The first notes of the album’s opener, “Never Sure”, quickly drowned out the sound and sent an instant wave of energy around the room. Their co-headline set took songs from every era of their long career, from the latest record all the way back to hit 2007 debut ‘A Lesson in Romantics’, with “Jamie All Over” from that 12-year old album receiving the biggest response of the night, alongside their cover of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” and a mashup of mid 2000s emo hits from My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday and New Found Glory. Sounding as strong as they do on record, this was certainly a show not to be missed for any Mayday Parade fan.