In the mid to late aughts when I was just getting into live music and exploring the boundaries of what Kansas City had to offer, there was a vibrant network of pop punk and metal artists. All ages shows popped up all over the city in some pretty unconventional locations: houses, neighborhood clubhouses, church basements, and so on.
I first saw The Vanity Rose at Vineyard Church as part of a Haphazard Apparel party, it had to have been 2008-2009. Heavy screams intermingled with powerful female vocals, making the sextet a real force. A few months later I caught Blackmore at Gashland EPC at a dodgeball tournament; it was one of the best local pop punk shows I ever saw. Fast forward a decade, and members of both bands have united to take you, pardon the predictable pun, way back. Ben Wendt, Caleb Lumby, Billy Batchelder, and Chase Conner just created your new favorite old pop punk band.
The first 10 seconds of the song should tell you what you’re getting into. A punchy guitar line, beating drums, and then Wendt’s cry of “We’re growing old” hits you. “Peter Pan” is a song that pushes you to reminisce on your time spent as a teenager; inviting all the angsty feelings you possessed at 17 years old back into your head. “Peter Pan” brings back those memories while maintaining a very adult attitude.
So here I am, listening to this song for the millionth time, fighting back tears. Dramatic? Maybe. But I can’t ignore the fact that there are goosebumps on my arms and that a song as fun as “Peter Pan”, and a band who’s only in it to have a good time, can still have a heavy impact on a personal level. I grew up on this sound, going to these type of shows as a teenager, and finding my place in the music world; this song hits home.
The Way Way Back will be celebrating the release of their debut album on August 25th in Kansas City. You can find more details here, and you can catch me singing every damn word front row.