Review: No Closer to Heaven Tour // The Wonder Years, Motion City Soundtrack, etc.


Last Friday The Wonder Years, Motion City Soundtrack, State Champs and You Blew It! took over the House of Blues in Orlando.

Journalist ethics require me to divulge the truth: I got caught in Interstate 4 traffic on the way to the show and missed You Blew It! preform.

I know, I should be ashamed. Let me just say, though, I have seen Orlando’s own You Blew It! before and this band has great stage presence. That, though, will be all I say on that matter because I missed their set during the No Closer to Heaven tour.

As I arrived at the show, State Champs were preparing to play. Everyone in the crowd seemed to mingle about and I worried the interest level for one of my favorite live bands would be low. I was incorrect. State Champs took the stage and the entire crowd picked up and enjoyed the show. The band recently released a new album, Around the World and Back, which they played a few songs off of. The song the band released as the first single on the album, Secrets, proved to be a crowd favorite. State Champs also hinted that they would be making their way back to Florida early next year on a headlining tour. After the performance I saw on Friday night, my fingers are crossed. State Champs makes a room full of people come alive. No matter if one was familiar with their music or not, the entire room seemed to be engaged.

Next, Motion City Soundtrack took the stage. Again, honesty time: I never got into Motion City Soundtrack. I know, the looks of shock and horror are justified on your face. It’s not that I didn’t like the band, I just must have missed the hype when it came around. Now, ten years after their album Commit This to Memory was released and I am finally a fan. After seeing MCS live, I am sold. This band has serious talent. Clearly, making a career that has lasted through the ages is not easy in this industry. MCS has done this, though. Their electric stage performance and rich, quality sound is unwavering.

Dear MCS,

After all this time, I am finally a fan. I cannot stop playing your music.

Xoxo, Sam.

The night concluded with the headlining band, and the reason I went to the show, The Wonder Years. The Wonder Years released their new album No Closer to Heaven this past September, and they immediately embarked on this tour.

When the album was released, I was unsure of how it would hold up during the band’s live performance. When I was first acquainted with The Wonder Years, I was captivated by their live performance (as I am with most bands), so after hearing the new album I was a bit skeptical. NCTH felt as though it was simply a “spin in your bed while relaxing” kind of album instead of a punk album to move to. After hearing songs from this album live, I was (once again) proven wrong. Hearing these songs live was an emotionally and physically moving experience. NCTH is a new kind of Wonder Years show, but it turns out, this show was exactly what I wanted.

If this is what is to be expected from future Wonder Years shows, count me in. The show felt like a complete mix of ballads, angry punk anthems and songs that simply should be belted out.

If the No Closer to Heaven tour rolls around to your city, I highly recommend going. The Orlando show was a great, casual night that I thoroughly enjoyed.


5 Pop-Punk Albums to Kick Start Your Obsession


1. The Wonder Year / Suburbia, I’ve Given You All But Now I’m Nothing 

If one album truly formed my love and appreciation for pop-punk music, it was Suburbia. This album changed how I felt about pop-punk as whole. Let’s be honest: the angst is real as with any pop-punk album, but The Wonder Years do angst so right.

The album starts out with the kicker track, Came Out Swinging, which launches you into the feel of the album. The screams the come from singer Dan Campbell’s throat are filled with passion and sorrow. The lyrics, though, are beautifully crafted and feel like home after just a few listens.

The 2011 release launched The Wonder Years onto the forefront of the scene and is sure to start your obsession.

Let’s be clear: The Wonder Years have created masterful albums since the release of Suburbia, but nothing hits home like this album and nothing says pop-punk quite like The Wonder Years.

Check out: Don’t Let Me Cave In


tssf self titled cover

2. The Story So Far / Self Titled

While The Story So Far is commonly known for their older hits, I recommend that you check out their newest released, their self titled album. The Story So Far is a bold, untamed album. The album defies all traditional pop-punk logic while keeping the familiar deep, blasting riffs that come from TSSF.

In comparison with their previous albums, TSSF does something different and more tasteful here. Instead plugging bits that are clearly made for a live crowd to chant along to (which is a very typical pop-punk move), the band created music that is just simply good. The upbeat, thrashing songs are at the band’s best while the slow, hauntingly beautiful sound of Phantom breaths new life for this band.

This album shows the diversity of TSSF and pop-punk in general and is an album that displays the strengths of TSSF as a band and the strengths of pop-punk in general.

Check out: How You Are


3. Knuckle Puck / Copacetic

Knuckle Puck came onto the scene fairly quickly and captured the attention of audiences alike as they toured the country. With their recent release, Copacetic, the band polished their sound and officially launched themselves dominant figures in the pop-punk scene.

The album is pop-punk to the core, but it fulfills a different taste that Knuckle Puck satisfies that not many bands hit. The lyrics are powerful and hit beyond the typical shouts of pop-punk music.

If you get the chance, see Knuckle Puck live. They know how to put on a show that captivates the entire audience.

The band will be in Orlando on November 8th and Jacksonville on November 11th.

Check Out: Disdain


4. Neck Deep/ Life’s Not Out to Get You

Neck Deep’s 2015 release marked a new era for the band. Many claimed Life’s Not Out to Get You was the pop-punk album of the year upon its release.

Neck Deep, a traditional pop-punk band, opened up new ideas on this album. Don’t get me wrong, Life’s Not Out to Get You is Neck Deep to the core. The album feels like the next best step for the band. I cannot wait to see where the band progresses after the success of this album.

If you’re just launching into the pop-punk scene, Neck Deep is the band to know. Their success is only rising with the release of this album. The style of Life’s Not Out… offers traditional pop-punk: catchy hooks, loud riffs and chants coupled with deep screams. The difference that this album offers, though, is the diversity of each track.

Check Out: December


5. Modern Baseball/ You’re Gonna Miss It All

Modern Baseball is arguably not all that pop-punk. Yet, they couple fast chord progressions with cheeky lyrics so in technicality, they fit they bill.

If you’re more interested in Indie music, you will enjoy Modern Baseball. If you enjoy punk, you will enjoy Modern Baseball. If you enjoy music, you will enjoy Modern Baseball.

It’s that simple. This band changed the game for pop-punk bands. They mix their self-deprecating lyrics with fast, troubling sounds that allow any fan of music to relate to. As sing-alongs go, Modern Baseball has perfected them. Their lyrics entice an entire crowd to dance around and scream their lyrics at the top of their lungs.

You’re Gonna Miss It All is Modern Baseball’s most recognized album and for good reason. This album defined their sound and their live show.

Check Out: Notes