As an unabashed proponent of the genre, I'm happy that the line-up of Yellowcard's current headlining tour (dubbed the Southern Air Tour) runs the gamut of pop punk. We Are The In Crowd reside on the poppier end of the spectrum, and The Wonder Years represent more of the punk influences, while Yellowcard land somewhere in between. I saw the tour at the House of Blues in Boston, MA on November 18th, where the sold out audience was receptive to all thee acts. It was a real testament to the solidarity of the scene (and to Hopeless Records, the label that all three groups call home).
The show began with up-and-coming pop rockers Sandlot Heroes. Like the majority of the crowd, this was my introduction to the band. I only caught the end of their set (damn you, House of Blues, for advertising the incorrect start time), but they did not seem to be letting this big opportunity go to waste.
We Are The In Crowd soon followed with a half hour set largely consisting of cuts from their debut album, Best Intentions. The dual vocals from singer Taylor Jardine and guitarist/vocalist Jordan Eckes sounded great; the two voices complement one another nicely. At one point, the band called for the crowd to come up to receive high fives from Jardine, to which the crowd responded with an influx of crowd surfers during "Lights Out." It served as a good primer for the abundance of audience physicality that would follow.
The Wonder Years may have been in the supporting slot, but they commanded the stage as if it was their own show - and the crowd responded accordingly. The last time the band came though Boston on the Glamour Kills Tour, they sold out a nearby 1,000-capacity venue, and it seems that many fans returned to witness another strong performance. (The also officially announced their return to Boston for the GK Holiday show next month. See you there!)
From the moment they stopped on the stage (to Phil Collin's "In the Air Tonight") to the closing of "Came Out Swinging" 45 minutes later, neither the band nor the crowd let up their intensity for a second. They played most of the "hits" from their two most recent albums and threw in an old favorite, "Won't Be Pathetic Forever," and a rarity, "Me vs. Highway," for good measure.
They had a tough act to follow, but Yellowcard's performance showcased why they are the headlining act. The band demonstrated their impressive showmanship with an hour and a half-long set. Frontman Ryan Key noted that the size of the band's crowds have doubled in their last year of touring, as demonstrated by the venue's 2425-capacity crowd.
Both the band and the audience seemed to enjoy themselves (with the exception of a fight in the crowd that prompted Key to stop in the middle of a song.) Violinist Sean Mackin recently battled thyroid cancer, but you'd never know it by looking at him. He was his normal, animated self, even performing his signature backflip.
The setlist was a healthy mix of material from each of their albums since Ocean Avenue (fingers crossed for a 10th anniversary album tour next year!), with an emphasis on their latest, Southern Air. They performed most of the singles you'd expect - "Awakening" (which made a great opener), "Way Away," "Always Summer," "Hang You Up," "Lights and Sounds," et al. - as well as a couple of curveballs. "Holly Wood Died" made a rare appearance, and I was happy to hear the intense guitars and drums of "Rivertown Blues."
Later in the set, Key remarked that he and his bandmates had noticed a lot of bands covering modern songs, and although they've never been ones to follow trends, they thought it would be fun to put their own spin on a current hit. With Key on acoustic guitar and accompanied by Longineu W. Parsons III's percussion, the duo performed a rendition of Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait." It was an interesting take, but I would preferred a more upbeat cover (or another Yellowcard original).
The band left the stage after performing "Southern Air," but the fans knew it wasn't over. They came back for an encore which consisted of "Sing For Me," "Here I Am Alive" with Jardine reprising her guest vocals from the album and closing the night with their hit, "Ocean Avenue" to send everyone home happy. Yellowcard are veterans of the scene, and this tour, which attracted both older and younger audiences, further proved that they still have plenty of fight left in them.