Max Watts, Melbourne VIC
February 23rd, 2017
Support – Like Torches
Yellowcard have been one of my favourite bands since I was 12; their powerful lyrics, catchy melodies and strong instrumental backing have continued to resonate with me through my adolescence and into adulthood. Music is a source of influence, comfort and empowerment for so many people all over the world, and I am very thankful to have grown up with a band like Yellowcard to be that for me.
After 20 years though, they’ve understandably decided to call it quits; many are married, some have children, and their individual passions have begun to diverge away from the core of Yellowcard. In honour of this, they’ve embarked on a final world tour to give fans the chance to rock out one last time. They have always had a strong following in Australia, touring on almost every album cycle both before and after their hiatus, and play to packed crowds of dedicated fans every time.
I was lucky enough to attend the first of three sold out shows in Melbourne, enabling me to relive my teenage years as Yellowcard smashed through a 22-song set of tunes both new and old.
A band I had previously never heard of, Like Torches, opened the show; they were an alright fit for the bill, but left something to be desired. The Swedish 4-piece powered through their painfully long 40-minute set; audience members were showered with reverb drenched vocals, an excessive number of clap alongs and a real lack of energy displayed by everyone aside from the frontman. Despite lacking the it factor I felt they needed to warrant their slot on this tour, they still received a pretty good response from most of the people who had turned up early to check the dudes out.
The opening violin riff (I’m not sure what else to call it really) of old school track ‘Believe’ rang out, bringing the room to life as fans recognised the familiar yodels of Sean Mackin’s one-man string section. Fuelled by nostalgia, the energy in the room remained high as the band hammered out old school bangers Lights and Sounds and Way Away to a crowd of adoring fans. Following these was Always Summer, a more pop-friendly tune from 2012’s Southern Air. Frontman Ryan Key’s voice was absolutely flawless, a pleasant reminder of why the band have stayed relevant for so long.
Having checked the setlist before heading to the show, I was by now at a moderate level of prepared for what was to come: Five Becomes Four, taken from 2007’s Paper Walls. This album contributed a lot to my teenage years and is one of my all-time favourites, so to see any song from this lesser-played record is always a blessing.
“…Some of you lost souls might have wandered in here tonight because Ocean Avenue was your jam when you were 12, and you missed the memo that we’ve put out 6 records in the last 6 years…”
Aware of the reality that many people in the crowd were there for the nostalgia value, vocalist Ryan Key prefaced Rest In Peace and What Appears, both from Yellowcard, by poking fun at old school fans, while still encouraging them to “make up their own words” and to sing along to the newer songs regardless.
Rough Landing Holly was slotted in to reel back the old school fans, allowing the cool punks in the room a few minutes to nod their heads along to the Yellowcard they were more familiar with. Next up was Awakening, Southern Air’s opening track; this record definitely signalled the band’s shift into more pop friendly writing, so there’s a bit of a decline in crowd participation to begin with, however a verse in the energy picked right back up. Topping off this section of the set was Light Up The Sky, a classic from my beloved Paper Walls. Stylistically each of these songs are very different, however they still fit well together side by side; the ordering of this setlist unintentionally pays homage to their ability to progress musically while still appealing to fans and sticking to an inherently ‘Yellowcard’ sound.
Emotional track Sing For Me kicked off the token slow jam segment of the set, tugging at the heartstrings of audience members from start to finish. Following this was power-ballad Lift A Sail, taken from the record of the same name; noticeably less popular among fans, they thankfully only performed this song from the album.
With You Around keeps the energy flowing and the crowd bouncing, and just when I didn’t think I could feel any more ~feels~, BAM – they whip out Cut Me, Mick, a song from Paper Walls I’d never seen live before. So I screeched my tiny heart out alongside my fellow emos, letting years of pent up angst flow through my body and power my embarrassing dance moves.
Breathing (BANGER), Empty Apartment (ouch my heart), Hang You Up (ouch my heart 2.0), Be The Young and Holly Wood Died (waste of time, play something better) rounded out the set, and the boys exited the stage for the classic that’s-all-folks-g2g-but-really-we-still-have-2-songs-left gag.
The encore began with Only One, an emotive power ballad that I have definitely cried along to in my car more than a few times. Seeing songs like that live always feels so cathartic, as though I’m being cleansed of my past emotional turmoil by singing my lungs out alongside others who have felt similarly. Then, as expected, the entire room went absolutely ham for Ocean Avenue, the ultimate nostalgia jam for anyone who has ever feigned even the slightest of interest in pop punk music.
And just like that, it was done. It’s strange to leave a show with the knowledge that after that, you won’t see them perform live again. Regardless, I felt like the night was the perfect final show. Each time I’ve seen Yellowcard has been something different and special; the set lists are always varied, their energy is consistently high, and the love they feel for their fans is so palpable. Even though this is their final time gracing our shores, they put in just as much effort and passion into the performance and really gave the audience something to remember.
I am glad such a talented band are getting the send off they deserve all over the world, and am thankful to have seen them one final time.