The past week has been a trying one for the California band Spanish Love Songs. Their van’s transmission gave out six days into a two-month tour with pop punk legends The Wonder Years. This resulted in lead singer Dylan Slocum performing a solo set in Los Angeles while the rest of the band stayed behind with the equipment. Spanish Love Songs missed the Salt Lake City show altogether waiting to get their vehicle repaired. They drove straight to Denver just in time for a snowstorm. Despite all the turmoil, the band was ecstatic to be performing.
Spanish Love Songs 2020 album Brave Faces Everyone tackles addiction, gun violence, and broken dreams. However, the songs do give a glimmer of hope. It helped me get through the last few years of dark times. The song Self-Destruction (as a Serious Career Choice) declares, “It won’t be this bleak forever.” I was thrilled they played most of the tunes from the album.
Someone in the audience shouted, “Show me what you got.” This fueled the quintet to deliver a high energy fist pumping performance. Slocum’s vocals conveyed every emotion of his angst-ridden lyrics. Guitarist Kyle McAulay turned the songs into anthems (as well as showed off his pogo dancing skills). Drummer Ruben Duarte and bass player Trevor Dietrich drove the punk rock feel. Behind the keyboards Meredith Van Woret added a layer of sonic depth.
The band ended with the title track from Brave Faces Everyone. Each musician slowly left the stage one at a time. This resulted in Slocum strumming his guitar alone proclaiming, “We don’t have to fix everything at once/We were never broken, life’s just very long/Brave faces, everyone.” The lights went dark, and the audience was left awestruck.
Before the band from Lansdale, Pennsylvania started, the house speakers cranked John Mellencamp’s Jack & Diane and Starship’s We Built This City to get the audience in the right suburbia mindset. For this tour, The Wonder Years celebrated the anniversary of their albums Suburbia (released in 2011) and The Upside (released in 2010) by playing them in their entirety.
Lead singer Dan Campbell confessed to the crowd that he feared the weather was going to result in the band playing to an empty venue. “It was going to bum us out because this is a special tour…So we are really thankful you all made the trek out in the snow.” That’s when the band ironically played the song Summers in PA.
The wall of sound created by guitarists Casey Cavaliere, Matt Brasch, and Nick Steinborn was powerful. Instead of building a song to a crescendo, the multiple guitars made the tunes explode. At that moment, Mike Kennedy would create a drum fill that sounded like debris falling from the aftermath.
One of my favorite dynamics of the band is their background vocals. During The Living Room Song Campbell and Brasch traded lines during the bridge. The crowd joined in at the chorus chanting, “We don’t have trouble sleeping/No one, no one’s gonna take that away from me/We don’t have trouble sleeping/We know, we know who we wanna be.” During the tune, I Won’t Say The Lord’s Prayer, Josh Matin’s screams elevated the punk intensity.
Towards the end of the night all the bands came out to sing the appropriately titled All My Friends Are In Bar Bands. Everyone shouted, “I’m not sad anymore, I’m just tired of this place/And if this year would just end, I think we’d all be okay.”
The snowstorm made us miss the band Save Face and only catch the last few songs of Origami Angels. I was lucky enough to catch The Wonder Years mascot Hank the Pigeon, who was featured on both album covers of Suburbia and Upsides, make an appearance to close out the night.
See you at the next show. I’ll be the one hanging out with the band’s mascot.