I’ll admit it: I attended Yellowcard’s show at the House of Blues last Friday evening for a trip down memory lane. Their monumental pop punk album Ocean Avenue was the soundtrack for every beach trip, late night, and broken heart I had in high school. Their performance proved that it was time for me and everyone else who may have let this band fall off their radar to get reacquainted with these Californian pop rockers as theirs was the most dynamic, energetic, and entertaining performance I’ve seen this year.
Opener Go Radio came out swinging from the start. Emotional lead vocalist Jason Lancaster, formerly of Mayday Parade, kicked the night off with “Singing With The King” off the band’s debut album, Lucky Street. The band kept the energy high for the short seven-song set, slowing it down for “Goodnight Moon” and revving things up again for the band’s cover of Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep.” This evening was the final stop of the tour, and bands were clearly celebrating; Go Radio downed Smirnoff Ices before performing the hook-filled, break out hit “Any Other Heart.”
Every Avenue started with the bitter opener “Tie Me Down” from their recent release, Bad Habits. The band took few breaks to address the crowd between songs, explaining that, “All of our musical equipment’s stuck in Texas.” David Strauchman’s vocals were strained, understandably so after six weeks of touring, but that didn’t stop the singer from taking a celebratory shot in between “Whatever Happened To You” and “Fall Apart.”
Members of Go Radio and Yellowcard came onstage as the singer chugged two Smirnoff Ices. The comradery between the bands at the culmination of this tour was clear, and the rest of the set seemed to be more for the bands than the fans, who enjoyed it and cheered along regardless, before the band left with a final promise to be “back soon.”
Yellowcard exploded out of the gate with their recent single “For You, For Your Denial,” followed by an older classic, “Breathing,” representing the evening’s perfect balance of songs from all releases in their extensive discography. Lead vocalist Ryan Key announced that this was Yellowcard’s sixth stop in Los Angeles this year and that they “wanted everyone to lose their voice and have the most fun in their lives” that night. The California-bred pop punk band’s passionate brand of upbeat punk music more than did the job.
The high-energy performance featured a large number of songs from their newest release, When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes, the album that reunited Yellowcard after their two-year hiatus. Their standard band setup was highlighted by the unique inclusion of a violin as a rhythm instrument, played by Sean Mackin, who also lent passionate vocals and backflips to the night’s performance. Mackin told the crowd, “We’re having so much fun on stage and it’s because of you. We didn’t expect this many people to come out.”
Drummer Longineu W. Parsons showed his expertise with an exhaustive drum solo matched with a perfectly timed light show before the band rejoined him onstage for the poppy “Sound of You and Me” and rocking “Way Away.” Guitarist Ryan Mendez said, “This is the most fun I’ve had all tour…you guys are gunning for best show of the year.”
Key then explained how monumental the House of Blues was to the band. “We played here ten years ago with The Dance Hall Crashers, and the president of Capitol Records came out to see us play. He said, ‘I don’t get the music but obviously the fans like it. We need to sign them,’ and ten years later, we’re still hanging out and having fun and singing along.” The band then dedicated the next song, “Be the Young,” to the crowd, encouraging them to sing the final words, “We’ll forever be the young.”
The crowd went wild for the Los Angeles inspired “Lights and Sounds” and the young-love anthem “Only One.” As the energy hit an evening high, Key addressed the group’s rocky past: “In 2008, we took a break from being a band.” When boos arose, Key threatened to throw guitar picks at the dissatisfied audience members and continued, “In 2010, we made a new record. There you go Mr. Booer, that’s for you. We are nothing without you. We have a lot of work to do to get this band back to where it used to be, and we need your help.” The audience cheered in agreement as the band promised they would record a new record next year after their international tour.
Before the encore, Key began an acoustic set with an emotional story. When he dropped out of college on a full ride to move to California and pursue music, the only support he found was from his Aunt Stephanie. The band penned “Sing For Me” for her after she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. He explained she had passed away three weeks ago, six months past the doctor’s diagnosis, which Key attributed to the positivity fans have sent out every night with that song. It was the most raw, vulnerable moment of the evening and only solidified the connection between Yellowcard and their devoted fans.
“Empty Apartment” saw the return of the band, and Key announced they were going to “travel back in time now.” Fans knew what was coming as the venue erupted into their breakout hit “Ocean Avenue.” The energy of their set culminated as fans screamed and danced along with the band’s final song of the tour.
Yellowcard may have taken a break, but it’s clear the band is back and better than ever. The energy of their music is infectious, and the group’s passion for performing for their fans is inspiring. It’s time for everyone to catch back up on this band because it’s clear they’ve only matured and grown into their sound over time. A decade after Yellowcard first exploded onto the map, I sincerely hope they maintain their momentum and give us another solid ten years of shows like these.
Yellowcard’s Set List
- For You, And Your Denial
- Rough Landing, Holly
- Five Becomes Four
- See Me Smiling
- With You Around
- Light the Sky
- Holly Wood Died
- The Sound of You and Me
- Way Away
- Cut Me, Mick
- Be The Young
- Hang You Up
- Lights and Sounds
- Only One
- Sing For Me
- Empty Apartment
- Ocean Avenue
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