The Wonder Years | Mercy Lounge | Nashville, TN
The Wonder Years brought their current tour to Mercy Lounge on September 28. This compact venue, nestled in the outskirts of downtown Nashville, was the perfect location for this low key, intimate performance.
With support from Jetty Bones, The Obsessives, and Laura Stevenson, this inclusive tour package was certainly impressive.
Strong, rich vocals, a lively stage presence, and a backing band comprised of talented musicians-- what more could you want, especially when watching a live performance? Jetty Bones provides all of the above. Based out of Ohio, is the product of founding member Kelc's solo creations that are accompanied with a full band for an impressive delivery.
Opening their set with "Lumos", a track from their 2016 release Crucial States, Kelc was immediately dancing around the stage and creating a welcoming atmosphere for the unusually large crowd that was present- generally opening bands unfortunately do not have a large turn out, so this was a nice surprise. Thankfully, the crowd was respectful throughout Jetty Bones' entire set, with no loud chatter to disrupt their performance.
Playing both old and new material, including "Second Death In The Rabbit Hole", and "Clear Honey", Jetty Bones earned wholehearted praise from the crowd, with loud cheers and applause at the end of each song. For live performances, vocalist / songwriter Kelc is joined by friends, and for this tour their backing band consisted of Aubree Roe, Jacob Bialosky, and Joseph Micucci of Everyone Leaves, and Dylan Mattheisen of Tiny Moving Parts.
Before playing "Innocent Party", which Kelc referred to as a "vulnerable single", she took time to speak about the importance of seeking help when you need it, and reminded the audience that it's okay to not be okay. With lyrics like "I wasn't always the person that I am now / But I worked so hard to get here / And all I want is for you to hear me out", it's clear that this song has the ability to resonate with the crowd, making them feel validated and reassuring them that things get better.
Up next were The Obsessives. Based out of Washington, DC, this five piece has a summer time garage rock vibe that pairs perfectly with Nick Bairatchnyi's steady and calm vocals. It's safe to say that all opening acts on this tour were immensely talented, and the large crowd was groovin' along to their tunes.
Showing appreciation for everyone at the show who arrived early, seemingly timid vocalist Nick thanked the crowd and commented on how The Wonder Years were the nicest people on the planet to tour with. They then dove right back into their set, with their songs flowing into one another.
The Obsessives opened their set with "Now She's Smoking", and they also performed "Surfer Rosa" (the opening track on their 2017 self titled album), "When The World Ends", and more. All of the songs that they played were easy to get the hang of and sing along to, even if you weren't previously familiar with their discography.
While their stage presence was a bit reserved, their layered instrumentals formed a cohesive bond with the audience, pulling them into their set and providing a fun performance.
Although generally solo, Laura Stevenson was joined by two other musicians for her performance, who provided bass and drum accompaniments. It's always interesting to see solo artists play with backing support live-- it creates a new sound that can cause their songs to resonate with different people in different ways than they normally do.
More people were arriving as Laura took the stage, causing the room to be nearly packed. In between songs, Laura engaged in humorous stage banter with the crowd, as well as her fellow musicians.
Laura Stevenson played a well rounded set, which included "Source And The Sound", "Torch Song", and "Beets Untitled". Closing the set with 'Jellyfish", it's clear that while Laura's songs can sound fun and lighthearted, the lyrics are generally serious and sometimes depressing-- you definitely need to pay attention to her lyrics to fully appreciate her beautifully crafted songs.
Whether you're an old or a new fan of The Wonder Years, it's safe to say that you've seen them at least once. However, you may not have seen them perform acoustically. This tour in particular is a special treat due to the full band aspect, which is different than past acoustic performances that The Wonder Years have put on.
The simple, small string lights that rose above the stage, coupled with the quaint, light colored flowers that adorned the microphone stands, set an intimate tone. The band played through all of the tracks on Burst And Decay, their recently released re-imaginings of previously released songs. This release is comprised of "A Song For Ernest Hemmingway", "There, There", "Coffee Eyes", "Cardinals", "Don't Let Me Cave In", "Dismantling Summer", and "You In January".
Hearing songs reworked and performed in a softer sort of way gave them a new spin, while still maintaining their original intention. The Wonder Years demonstrated their musical versatility with ease, as none of the reworked songs sounded out of place or forced.
While all of the tours that I've been able to see The Wonder Years on have been enjoyable, this tour in particular was special due to the stripped down, mature sound that each song was given. If you're able to catch this tour in your city, do yourself a favor and make it out to the show.