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Journeys and Converse Presents...

Sad Summer Festival 2024 at the Chrysalis at Merriweather Park

Mayday Parade, The Maine, The Wonder Years, We The Kings, Real Friends, Knuckle Puck, Hot Milk, Daisy Grenade, Diva Bleach

August 09

Doors: 1:00PM / Show: 2:00PM
$60 - $125
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Learn more about the Chysalis at Merriweather Park!

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Mayday Parade

The Maine

The Wonder Years

For a number of years, this would have been an almost-blank page. Back in the mid-2010s, a few years after The Wonder Years had first formed in Lansdale, PA, just north of Philadelphia, the band would be asked to provide a bio for events they were playing. All Dan Campbell would write was ‘The Wonder Years is a band’. That was it. They’d then receive the programs for whatever festival or event it was for and laugh. Most bands, the frontman remembers, would write a “full page thing about how their last record charted and ours would just be a blank page with those six words at the top.” A lot of Mme has passed since then, and a lot has changed, although also not that much, at the same Mme. If  The Wonder Years – completed by guitarists Matt Brasch and Casey Cavaliere, drummer Mike Kennedy, bassist Josh MarMn and keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Nick Steinborn – could get away with a six-word bio, they probably would.

As it happens, when it comes to The Hum Goes On Forever, context is important, which is why you’re reading these words. The most important reason is that this is the first record the band has made since Campbell became a father. And so, when he sings its very first words – ‘I don’t want to die’ – on its very first song, “Doors I Painted Shut”, they shimmer with a liTle extra poignancy and potency. Because as someone who has sung candidly about how despondent he’s felt at times, thoughts of unexistence are no longer possible. It doesn’t mean they stop, but Campbell can no longer succumb to the abject malaise they induce.

“You’ve got to pull it together,” he says, “because your kids are counting on you. These things that feel hopeless – these massive cultural and societal, full-populace problems like climate change and school shootings, all the things that you’re afraid of for your children – well, they only get fixed if you fix them. ‘I don’t want to die – because I’ve got to protect you.’ It would be very easy to give in to the depression and just kind of lay there, but my kids are counting on me, so I have to try to pull myself together and do the work. ”

That, then, is the crux of this record: his survival is more important than it ever was before. As Campbell phrases it, “How do you take care of someone else that needs you when there are days that you barely want to exist?” Now that he’s a father, the answer is a lot simpler than it used to be. Quite simply, he doesn’t have a choice. Rather, he has to press on against the noise that’s been inside his brain for as long as he can remember. That’s what the ‘hum’ of this album’s title is. Taken from a poem he wrote for Sister Cities, it is, he says, a representation of the gloom he tends to carry with him. “Even when it’s not constantly in my face,” he admits, “there’s always a low hum of sadness, a low rumbling of ennui. So The Hum Goes On Forever is the understanding that I’m always going to have it, it’s always going to be there, it’s always been there for literal generations of my family and it’s important that I accept that and live and work through it.”

The Hum Goes On Forever, then, is the sound of The Wonder Years navigating those dark, cold waters, bringing that ever-present pulse in the back of Campbell’s mind to vivid life, while also pushing it as far back into his skull as it will go. It’s the kind of effect that’s only achievable through true collaboration and understanding, something that defines how the band has operated from its inception. The six-piece wrote the bulk of these songs in a farmhouse in the middle of Pennsylvania in the winter of 2021. This was before vaccines were widely available, so they all quarantined for 14 days first. Then, after getting vaccinated, they wrote together again in March, April and May, before tracking songs in June. Initially, the idea was to just make an EP with Will Yip, but it instead became their seventh album, finished with Steve Evetts, after the band decided the songs would be under-served on an EP. The result is a record that captures the taught, fraught uncertainty of the period in which they were written, but also travels back in time and memory to uncover and dwell on and inhabit leftover remnants of the past. It serves, too, as a revealing representation of how the six lives that constitute The Wonder Years interact with each other. That happens both inside and outside of the band, obviously, but in terms of the former, they’ve all grown together immensely as musicians. It means the band knows when to be restrained and when to explode, filling in space and emptiness as needed to create a record that mirrors, sonically, the heart-torn urgency at its core, the way these six individuals interact with each other, each an essential component of a greater whole - as well as the next evolution of a band that’s never stopped growing, never stopped striving, never stopped searching for the truth and the heart of this dumb thing we call life.

It would be easy to talk about how specific songs do that, but that would also kind of defeat the point of this record. Because this is a complete journey and should be taken in as such. It begins in August and ends in June and traverses years and decades, as well as the constant cycle of sadness and healing within them. Except it never quite gets there. The hum is never totally shaken off. “Because the tagline for The Upsides was ‘I’m not sad anymore’,” Campbell explains, “I think people were like, ‘This is the guy who used to be depressed.’ But obviously that never goes away. It’s a constant, and you basically have to co-exist with your sadness. It won’t go away, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t rely on you and that you can stop. As we’ve continued to make records, that’s manifested itself in different ways, but I don’t think ever as clearly as it has on this record. This one is more clearly about me struggling and floundering and drowning at points. In fact, I think it’s maybe even the most revealing in a lot of ways. There’s things I’m singing about on this record that I wouldn’t have had the guts to confront in myself prior to it – like being this open about how low I had gotten, starting in late 2019 and then tumbling into a pandemic, and just thinking and thinking and thinking….”

There’s a lot of thinking on this record. A lot of thoughts. But the main one, the important one, is that very first line of the first song: I don’t want to die. It’s something he repeats and reiterates on final track “You’re The Reason I Don’t Want The World To End”, which addresses the change in Campbell’s purpose since becoming a dad. That’s obvious enough from the title alone, but with the final line – inspired by gardening with his first son during the pandemic – the message becomes truly clear: ‘Put the work in, plant a garden, try to stay afloat.’ It’s a reminder to himself, but it’s also for anyone who listens, anyone who needs it, everyone who’s grown up with the band and has sought, and continues to seek, refuge in their songs. Because, yes, The Wonder Years is a band. But it’s also much, much more than that.

We The Kings

Real Friends

Knuckle Puck

Hot Milk

Power punks, Hot Milk, have announced their second EP, ‘I JUST WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I’M DEAD” via Music For Nations.

It follows the success of the band’s first EP, 2019’s ‘Are You Feeling Alive?’, a fizzy collection of gutsy emo-pop which established them as one of the most exciting new bands in the UK. Their 2019 was a whirlwind year that saw them tour with Foo Fighters, Deaf Havana and You Me At Six, as well as playing some of the UK’s biggest festival stages.

The band were formed in 2018 by vocalist and guitarist duo, Han Mee and Jim Shaw, two friends who met working behind the scenes in the Manchester music scene. Yet they yearned to be in a band themselves. “We got to the point where we were why not? What else have you got to lose?” says Jim. “We thought, we can go for this or we can get to 60 and know we didn’t do right by ourselves.”

Debut EP, ‘Are You Feeling Alive?’, which was penned during a drunken songwriting session, was an effervescent refusal to settle for second best in life. “We’ve both realised that life you don’t get another face,” Han continues. “You get one face and then you’re done, and you will never exist ever again.”

That sense of not letting life slip through your fingers is at the core of Hot Milk’s punk-indebted ethos. And having taken a leap of faith to grasp their platform, the band, completed by bassist Tom Paton and drummer Harry Deller, aren’t about to let it go to waste. “Art is about your interpretation of your own experience,” adds Jim. “The first EP was written five years ago. We’ve grown up and realised who we are and what the world is like right now.”

‘I JUST WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I’M DEAD’, which was produced by Jim Shaw, is another vivacious call to arms, rammed with sharp hooks and huge, catchy choruses, to encourage everyone, everywhere, to follow their dreams. But elsewhere, the lyrics are more personal, with the band bottling the anxieties and frustrations of their everyday lives. ‘Woozy’ openly tackles depression, ‘Good Life’ takes on societal corruption and the distribution of wealth, while elsewhere the band address the pursuit of happiness in a modern world.

“These songs are honest,” says Han. “I have nothing to hide. Everyone’s on antidepressants these days. It’s the world we live in, it makes people sad. Capitalism. Is it broken? 100 per cent. I’m angry that the fact that we’re sold a world that actually doesn’t make your inner peace happy. Humans need love and community and a lot of the time, there is no love and the community has dissolved.”

 “The anger resides in us at the unfairness of the world,” adds Jim. “Online communities are all about flexing and battling your peers to look or sound a certain way that is better than everyone else. It’s constant and it’s dangerous. You’re teaching kids that to be content, you have to be best. It’s a question again. Are you really living?”

“We’re angry, both politically and existentially in terms of the system we now live in. But also, we’re angry at the fact that we’re sad quite a lot,” continues Han. “But we’re trying to not just sit there and take it. We’re trying to fix it, by building a family through this band.”

Walk into any Hot Milk show and you will feel that sense of community. Through their honest lyrics and inclusive approach, the band say their aim is to create an “aggressively space safe” where fans are empowered to be themselves, “authentically and unapologetically”, as well as opening up a dialogue for people to talk. That will become clear later this year when the band get their chance to air the new material. This summer, they will return to Reading and Leeds Festivals, this time to play the main stage, as well as embarking on a headline UK tour in September. And believe, when the times comes to finally get back into those sweaty pits, these new songs will provide the perfect, life-affirming soundtrack.

“Life is fragile,” says Jim. “You can’t take things with you, but you can make the best memories. That’s the most important thing in life. Your currency is your memory.” “What you can take with you is something that absolutely makes the blood pump round your veins and gives you goosebumps,” agrees Han. “That’s what this band is to us. It’s our passion. That’s what this EP is about.”

Daisy Grenade

Diva Bleach

Diva Bleach is a "sparkly pop-rock" duo consisting of bassist/vocalist Sydney Roten and Brie Ritter from Phoenix, Arizona. Wearing their hearts on their sleeves, Diva Bleach shares stories of heartbreak, loss, friendship and more through their music. Music has always been an important part of their lives, taking music lessons at the same school and then ultimately teaming up to create Diva Bleach in 2021. The band has appeared at Zona Fest on the main stage with Portugal, The Man and has played alongside bands such as The Front Bottoms, Poolkids, Twin XL, Sundressed and more. The duo has now joined the InVogue Records family and are set to tour and release music all year.

Venue Information:
Chrysalis at Merriweather Park
10475 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia, MD, 21044
www.merriweathermusic.com