LIVE: Handguns, Neck Deep, Real Friends and The Wonder Year @ Clwb Ifor Bach [17/11/2013]

By Chris Marshman

Photo by Tiegan Neary

The last time The Wonder Years played Cardiff, they almost had to pull their set such was the reaction which ended up with a crowdsurfer headbutting the floor and the temperature of the venue reaching a near unbearable level. The result was The Wonder Years making a promise to come back to Cardiff and make it extra special… fast forward six months and The Wonder Years are about to embark on their second headline show of the day at Clwb Ifor Bach.

The first band to take to the stage is Handguns who fare better than they did last time they were in Cardiff supporting Senses Fail. The crowd tonight is much more suited to the band and they get a good reaction, yeah the vocals aren’t exactly on point and they are sloppy in places but you’d be hard pressed to find a pop punk band who are perfect live and as it is, Handguns are the perfect band to be opening this show.

The next band on is Neck Deep who are headlining the venue downstairs come next year and it’s easy to see why tickets are shifting as well as they are, the crowd reaction is insane with each song going down an absolute storm. Neck Deep are riding a massive hype wave at the moment and fair play to them because they’re probably going on the same journey the likes of Young Guns and Deaf Havana went on as the next big British band.

The main support tonight is Chicago’s own Real Friends who incite one of the best reactions for a support band I’ve seen in a long time. The band create a reaction that almost rivals that of tonight’s headliners and considering that band is The Wonder Years I think that’s about a big a compliment as I can pay them. It surely won’t be long until the band are back in the UK again to headline their own incredible tour.

The Wonder Years take to the stage to a half full venue with those missing still outside catching some fresh air and cooling down from the Real Friends set but as soon as ‘Passing Through A Screen Door’ hits you’d be damned if you were in the way of the venue entrance as a stampede of pop punk kids immediately enter the building. The next sixty minutes is a real sense of what music can do, it’s clear that the 300 strong crowd are releasing months worth of pent up emotion with every song being met as enthusiastically as the last. The whole set is just an outpouring of joy and if you can look past a couple of the (although clearly well intentioned) rehearsed speeches from Dan Campbell it’s clear this sort of reaction means a lot to the band too. The sixty minute set dips in and out of the bands last three releases with the set ending ‘All My Friends Are In Bar Bands’ proving to be a huge highlight and cementing itself as one of todays great set ending songs, the ensuing stage invasion is an apt way to end one of 2014’s best headline performances.

The Wonder Years are a special band, they bring about reactions that are almost unfound anywhere else in pop punk. I’ve got no doubts that they’ll continue their rise and I’ll one hundred percent expect them to be headlining bigger venues on their next run.