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Live Review: Greatest Generation Tour

Cleveland, Ohio

March 8, 2014

By Megan Fair, Copy Editor

I’ve been to a lot of incredible shows in my day, and I’m not one to change my mind easily. So when I say that The Greatest Generation Tour’s stop at the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland was the best show I’ve ever seen in my life is quite a statement.

To provide some groundwork, this tour featured some of the most hype bands in the pop punk and punk community right now: Property of Zack darling’s Modern Baseball, Suppy Nation epitome Real Friends, emo revival staple and Ohio bred Citizen, the most underrated band in pop punk Fireworks and, of course, the kings of pop punk, The Wonder Years. Each and every one of these bands crafts their music around personal experiences and relatable struggles of the average young adult.

And these young adults came in troves to see this tour--over 1800 attendees filled the Agora. And to think the venue planned on this tour being performed in the small club portion of the venue. It was rather strange to peek around and realize I was probably closer to the median age, and that’s the power of pop punk. Ushering a new generation of kids into the live music community is easy when your music can be grown into.

The night kicked off with Modern Baseball, and I was thoroughly impressed. The college students seemed to be having the time of their life as they rocked out to a sea of showgoers who actually were pretty familiar with the material they were playing. Modern Baseball’s goofy humor and honest-but-cheeky gracelessness made them that much more endearing, especially when Brendan Lukens accidentally tuned his guitar for another song and Brett Jones of Fireworks held the replacement guitar as Matt Brasch of TWY placed the strap around, all while the band continued to play.

The set seemed to fly by, and I could have definitely enjoyed a few more songs. Especially “Going To Bed Now,” but I understand its absence from the setlist. “Your Graduation” rips just as hard live as you’d expect it to, and seeing the bundle of crowdsurfers screaming the lyrics to what was technically the opening act’s single was pretty rad.

Up next to bat (haha baseball puns) were Real Friends, Chicago’s latest music sensation. It was their first night joining up with The Greatest Generation Tour, and you could tell that every single second spent on that stage was a joyous celebration. An excellent indicator was vocalist Dan Lambton’s radiant cheesy grin and look of absolute awe as a large portion of the crowd shouted the lyrics his way.

The first time I saw Real Friends was in a friend’s living room, where I also bought a shirt and donated some gas money because they were just too friendly to not support. Even in that living room they put it all on the line, and you can tell that hustle and drive is still key in their dynamics. I also felt it was great that Lambton pointed out that nobody was better than anyone else for being a fan for longer; with a decent amount of the crowd being so young, this was a reminder for elitists to welcome new fans into the community.

Citizen did Ohio proud that evening as well. Although the group’s music was a bit darker and gloomier than the other bands they were still well-received and captivated the audience in a different sense. They played a lot of chiller tracks like “Sleep” and “How Does It Feel?”, but the music never felt boring. I started to notice my voice crack and leave as I shouted to the beginning of “The Summer,” so that’s a pretty clear indicator of how much I was enjoying myself for the first 3/5 of the show.

Fireworks, Fireworks, Fireworks. I’ve said it a thousand times, and I’ll say it again: this band is the most underrated rock band right now. Their last record Gospel was a masterpiece, and, judging from the new tracks they just debuted and also played live, their March 25 release ofOh, Common Life is sure to be just as amazing. Vocalist Dave Mackinder was full of energy and much more talkative than I’ve ever seen him in all the times I’ve seen the group (and I’ve seen them a disgusting amount.)

“Glowing Crosses” sounded absurdly huge, and although the band didn’t play much past Gospel I was too excited about the new material to be genuinely upset. If this tour does not catapult Fireworks career even a little I will be sorely disappointed. The crossover appeal of this act is unbelievable.

The Greatest Generation Tour is named for the headliner’s most recent record, a record that was filled with incredibly rich storytelling and musicianship. I would be lying if I said I have ever made it through a TWY set without crying before this night, but I would be telling the truth if I said I cried a startling amount during their set this time around. The band played over 20 songs, ranging from “You’re Not Salinger, Get Over It” to the rarely recently played “My Last Semester” to all the new tracks.

The night began with “There, There” and “Passing Through A Screen Door,” and it was goosebump-inducing to hear the ring of nearly two thousand kids screaming, “I’m sorry I don’t laugh at the right times.” This band has worked incredibly hard for so long, and to see them gain this success is beautiful. Vocalist Dan “Soupy” Campbell probably could have not sung the whole concert and the vocals would have been provided by the crowd alone.

Showcasing the best songs from their discography through emotional deliveries and passionate performing led to a whirlwind of songs that brought the crowd along on a journey through dealing with depression, anxiety and the strangeness that is getting older. At one point guitarist Matt Brasch hopped onto the speakers right next to us and locked eyes with me. This kind gentleman was my very first interviewee, and he must have recognized me because he smiled at my lyric-shouting face and gifted me his guitar pick. Now I have a physical token of the beginning of my journalism career and the emotional value of TWY to carry with me always.

After much begging from the crowd, TWY came out to perform one last song. “I Just Want To Sell Out My Funeral” is the reprise of the entire record of The Greatest Generation and showcases lyrics from each track. I sobbed through all of it, naturally. To hear a resounding room of many different kinds of people belting, “I just wanna know I did all I could with what I was given” and hear the guitars ring out was a spiritual experience.

With five bangin’ bands and so much emotional power, it was impossible for this show to not to be my favorite of all time. I left with fresh merch and salty tears of joy dried to my face, and I’ll never forget what a powerful experience it was. Here’s to hoping I’ll see another concert that’s even half as rad as the Greatest Generation Tour’s stop at the Agora Ballroom.

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