Sketchy is the only word that can describe the New Brooklyn Tavern. The New Brooklyn Tavern, a small bar swallowed by graffiti that is located on State Street in Columbia, consists of a small bar and a ten square foot box that serves as a stage facing a dining room sized floor for the audience. Two hundred people squeezed into this space and the box was stacked with one set of drums, four sets of half stack amplifiers, four mikes, and three instruments, ready to play. At 6:45, a group of four guys, dressed like they were from The Sandlot, took the stage. They were called the Story So Far from Walnut Creek, California.
With yelling vocals, typical hyper fifth chord riffs, and pop- punk drum beats, the Story So Far rocked the New Brooklyn Tavern. Surprisingly, the crowd recited every word to every song that was played, very rare for an opening band. They began with their pumped up opener, States and Minds, that starts their first album, Under Soil and Dirt, and went through almost that entire first album within their thirty minute set. Despite the lack of volume on the vocals, the Story So Far was a fantastic band to begin a great show.
Second in the line up was A Loss for Words from Boston, Massachusetts. With their matching half stack orange amps, the guitarists started to feedback and begin their opener, Honeymoon Eyes, the opening track off of their new album, New Sanctuary. They had a more mainstream sound that was most similar to that of Fall Out Boy. They covered the Jackson Five hit, I Want You Back, with a little punk twist added to match the flow of their set. It made for a very nice change up in the show and it had the crowd going insane.
Next, came Transit, also from Boston, Massachusetts. Transit had a calmer sound with their clean guitars and more relaxed vocals while keeping to their punk roots with their galloping punk drum beats and upbeat bass lines. They sounded very similar to the new, more mature sound of Blink 182′s new album, Neighborhoods. This is partially due to the fact that according to Cody Smoldt, the voice of Tom DeLonge is very similar to that of Transit’s singer.
After a calmer change of pace, the Polar Bear Club, from Rochester and Syracuse, New York, came out to the stage. Taking a gimmick from Weezer, they rocked the New Brooklyn Tavern in hawaiian shirts and glasses. They had the place shaking with their heavier riffs and their singer’s gruff voice in songs such as Religion on the Radio and Bottled Wind. The songs they played live had a punch that the recording studio did not capture, making for an outstanding performance. Their frontman was one of the most confident and impressive of the night with his gruff yells and crowd interaction, setting the stage for the main event.
Finally, the Wonder Years, a six-piece band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania took the stage and everyone immediately pushed forwards. Then, the sick riff of Washington Square Park began and the crowd went nuts. The crowd screamed the lyrics at the top of their lungs, pushed right, left, forward, backward, stage dove, and crowd surfed. “It was one of the best shows I have witnessed.” according to Nathan Leopard. They mainly stuck with songs from their two latest albums, Suburbia and Upsides and took a few from the first album, Get Stoked on It! and EP, Won’t Be Pathetic Forever. The drummer was by far the most talented of the night with his intricate, offtime, drum beats. The singer sounded exactly as he did on the album and had such great stage presence. After around fifteen songs in an hour, they went offstage. The audience cheered loudly, begging for one more, so they came back for two encores, despite the fact that they were about to collapse due to the extreme heat in the bar.
After the show, the audience traveled outside to where the vans were parked and where, unlike any other show I have been to, the merchandise was sold. There we were given the chance to hang out with the bands and get some autographs. Nick Barrs said, “There were no frills, fancy lights, or huge slide shows. With only a few mikes, a drum set, and a couple guitars, those bands were able to put on an incredible show.”