The past two years have felt like Christmas for Yellowcard fans. The band has released two of their best albums to date, toured relentlessly, and poured out their hearts in every way possible. They blew me out of the water last year with their House of Blues performance, and last Saturday night, the band returned to Los Angeles with an even more impressively energetic show demonstrating the group’s unparalleled enthusiasm for their music. Lead singer Ryan Key welcomed fans to the “official Southern Air tour” before the band launched into the debut single “Awakening” off that impressive album, and thus began an evening that would more than live up to the high bar set by previous Yellowcard concerts.
Dressed head to toe in black, Key explained that the Florida-based group moved to LA in 2000 and that our city has become their second home. They noted frequently throughout the night that every show and song they performed in LA felt special, and they played several songs centered on Los Angeles, including “Hollywood Died” and “Lights and Sounds.” Key confessed that it had been “eleven years since our first show in LA. I have a love/hate relationship with this city. Tonight is a love and then there’s, you know, the rest of Hollywood.”
I will always cite Yellowcard as one of the most consistently solid bands in regards to both the quality of their music and the group’s dedication during live shows. Key told the audience the band had been through “a lot of ups and downs and almost had to call it quits, but these have been the best two years of our careers coming back. There is so much positive energy surrounding this band.”
Yellowcard’s performance was so tight no one would have suspected it was only the second night of the tour. When they weren’t wearing their hearts on their sleeves, the members were constantly moving, with Key raising his hands, the guitar, or the microphone to the audience, and when not executing perfect violin solos, violinist Sean Mackin sang gang vocals to the front row.
While the crowd embraced older songs, they were ready to help bring Yellowcard’s newest tracks to life as well. Mackin thanked the crowd for getting Southern Air into the Billboard Top Ten upon its release, while the audience replied by engaging in a circle pit during the punk rock-infused “Rivertown Blues” and screaming gang vocals during “Always Summer.” Every song felt like a homecoming, particularly the emotional “Telescope,” which was dedicated to Key’s late aunt.
Key took the stage with drummer Longineu Parsons to perform a cover song by “a band, not a computer like most songs on the radio.” As he began Mumford and Son’s “I Will Wait For You,” I was blown away by how full of a sound Key created with just an acoustic guitar. “Hang You Up” offered a retrospective look at love and demonstrated why the band still connects so strongly to their audiences. Thematically, Yellowcard songs resonate with listeners across the age spectrum because their messages are simultaneously universal and personal. It was clear fans passionately related to tracks like “Only One” as they screamed the chorus along with Key.
The encore began with “Sing For Me” followed by “Here I Am Alive,” during which Tay Jardine of We Are The In Crowd appeared onstage to provide backing vocals. The evening closed with — what else? — “Ocean Avenue,” and the crowd exploded. After waving goodbye, Key came back onstage to sign a handdrawn portrait a fan in the front row had been holding all night. Anyone need more proof that these guys are the real deal?
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