The Wonder Years Pop-Up Show Experience

Photos + Writing by Janelle Santacruz

The word "excited" did not describe how ready I was for this experience.  Sure there was a four and a half hour drive in the way, but that was completely worth it for the day ahead. My friend, Brandon, and I hopped in his car at 9pm Friday night and embarked on a 289 mile drive to Wicker Park, Illinois from Pontiac, Michigan to see one The Wonder Years.

If you aren’t familiar with them, TWY are a six piece pop-punk band from Pennsylvania who formed in 2005. The band has released a total of six studio albums, with their newest being Sister Cities.

Sister Cities is the band's first full length since 2015 and is taking the world by storm. Each song is filled with so much emotion and lyrical genius, it is definitely worth 44 minutes of your time.

After a few random stops, one including a Walmart for umbrellas (which DEFINITELY came in handy), we reached our destination.

2:45am - Chicago, Illinois. Lugging our tired bodies into a friend's dorm -- whom would be joining us on this adventure -- we start/end our day with a 4 hour nap before the buzzing of our alarms wakes us once again. Up we go! Quickly cramming food in our mouths and changing while screaming about the Uber arriving in five minutes, I swear I was still half asleep during all of this.

It wasn’t until the cold Chicago air hit my face that I realized what we were going to be doing for the next 7 hours.

Sitting on a very, very cold sidewalk waiting for the event to start. Luckily my friends and I were the first in line and man did we feel relief once we got there. The cold, wet and windy 7 hours passed and it was finally time.

Doors. Doors. Doors.

A big reason of wanting to be in line so early were the one of a kind embroidered Sister Cities jackets that were very limited. (And very worth $75).

As we entered the small space, my face lit up and I swear I felt my heart burst with happiness. The area was filled with pictures from the band's adventures around the world. Stories, people, places and things that inspired the album. The amount of time spent waiting for this release was worth it. As I stood in line to pay for my jacket and advanced copy of the CD, I couldn’t help but notice how happy everyone in this room was. This band truly brings people together. Time passed by, and everyone who had received a green ticket returned to the room to cram into a basement for a listening party and acoustic performance. This was even better than I could have ever imagined.

Dan “Soupy” Campbell approached the stage and said some words about the album before they began to play it, and from the beginning to end, I swear to you I had goosebumps. Within this 3 houses timeframe, after listening to the record, TWY played acoustic versions of new and old songs but we were also graced with a few spoken-word pieces written by Dan himself. We also learned a bit about the band with a small Q&A that was in that mix as well. To be able to hear and somewhat see how this piece of work came to be, is something I will never forget.

I will admittedly state that I became a Wonder Years fan quite late in my time, but it is definitely something I am so grateful for. This band has brought so many wonderful friends into my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you have friends who are willing to do last minute trips (this trip was very last minute. Sorry Brandon) to once in a lifetime things like this, go for it.

Our 289mile drive was worth it for a band who has graced us with smiles, tears, excitement and life-long friendships.