Make America Punk Again

On the night of Nov. 17, five of the forefront bands in the pop-punk scene came to The Ritz Ybor in Ybor City. The Wonder Years, Real Friends, Knuckle Punk, Moose Blood, and Seaway all visited Tampa for a stellar 5 hour show as one of the final stops on the 30 show fall tour.

Seaway opened up first, but unfortunately, they started their set before the whole line was completely inside. As such, these emo pop-punk giants had the smallest crowd of the night, yet this allowed the most intimate part of the show for people who weren’t buying merchandise or getting drinks before the other bands started. Seaway’s set was very brief, yet impactful. The set was only seven songs long, and as could be heard in the crowd, was all but one songs from their newest album that is relatively unknown. However, this allowed for many people to listen to some of their newer material for the first time, and hopefully allowed some people to buy their album after their set.

Following a lengthy setup, emo newcomers, Moose Blood started their excellent show. In stark contrast to Seaway, Moose Blood filled the room for their eight-song set that included material from all of their albums. Coming all the way from England, Moose Blood is a smaller and newer band but is only a few years from truly erupting to the heights of giants like Real Friends or Modern Baseball. One complaint that could be heard from some viewers is that Moose Blood has a relatively softer and slower feeling to their songs, but this could be seen as a good thing, as it made an even bigger leap to high energy Knuckle Puck followed.

Illinois pop-punk giants, Knuckle Puck, created an excellent half step between smaller Moose Blood and the much larger Real Friends by giving off a ten song long set of amazingly energetic songs with themes that had the crowd going crazy. This is the point where the show swapped from a standing concert to a dancing event, with much of the closer crowd getting even more energetic. Knuckle Puck’s set list left nothing to be desired and exuded pure energy before the show could be slowed down just slightly to the next band.

Following Knuckle Puck, fellow Illinois band, Real Friends showed why they have the gigantic following that they do. Thirteen songs, which only five of were from their newest album, proved to everyone in the room that Real Friends is truly the emo giant that their fans market them as. Vocalist Dan Lambton lead the show, offering many in-between speeches and many entertaining movements on stage. Offering not just music, this is also the point in the show where the venue turned the lights show on, allowing for a multitude of colors behind the band members on stage. As Lambton sang the last line and said thank you, the lights went dark and stayed dark until The Wonder Years came out, only a few minutes later.

The Wonder Year’s blistering 18 song set truly proved why they are the biggest names in pop punk right now, and why their name is the biggest one on the tour poster. Every band on the tour can cite The Wonder Years as an influence, and they showed why in this show. Opening on a soft note with the lights only on the singer, Dan “Soupy” Campbell, he opened into a very soft song that eventually became a huge show that would only be fitting of a band with six members. The band played a perfect mix of their greatest hits from all five of their albums and truly performed a wondrous show that involved lights, balloons, beach balls, confetti, two drum sets, and multiple guitar changes. The entire show was dedicated to a friend of the band, who many of the songs on their newest album are also dedicated to or about. The Wonder Years exhibited why they are a band to be inspired by, with their superb vocals, lyrics, and stage presence. Anyone who likes the genre of pop-punk can at least tolerate The Wonder Years, and this tour and concert just encapsulates why.

The show was performed at the historic 99-year-old Ritz Ybor, in the middle of Tampa and Ybor City. Parking was plentiful, with three parking garages surrounding the venue, and security was plentiful, allowing people as young as thirteen to feel safe as late as midnight. One of the only complaints heard was that the only non-21 beverage available was a five dollar bottle of water; however, that is pretty standard regarding a concert venue that size.

All in all, this show perfectly captured what the genres of punk and emo are all about, allowing a night of pure fun with some of the greatest bands in the industry. This tour has been cited by Soupy Campbell of The Wonder Year’s as his favorite he’s ever been on, even after headlining the massive Warped Tour for several years. This tour was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and hopefully, a lineup as good can return to The Ritz again.

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