I’ve had the luxury of seeing Yellowcard a couple times since they’ve returned from hiatus. I caught them in October 2011 when they were touring for When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes and then this past summer on the Warped Tour main stage. One thing rings true every time – they always deliver. The stacked opening line up only added to my excitement, as it had been about a year and half since I’d seen The Wonder Years.
One of the best surprises of the night came early as Sandlot Heroes took the stage. In fact, the band reminded me of when I saw Every Avenue open for Yellowcard last year, with vocalist Dan Kastelnik having a kind of Southern rock vibe – also not unlike The Maine’s latest material. As expected, they mainly stuck to material from The Trace EP, with tracks like “My Favorite Song” and “Freeway” carrying across very well live. Much of this can be attributed to the help of Chris Morrison and Jake Lare on back up vocals, as their contrast gave Kastelnik’s words a lot more power. This was a set of sing alongs and rocking tunes – nothing too fancy needed, just fun rock music.
I was anxious to see how the young’uns in We Are The In Crowd would sound live, since I missed their set on Warped Tour this past summer. Sure enough, Tay Jardine and crew were incredibly entertaining. The chemistry between Jardine and Jordan Eckes on stage dominates the show, with their call and return being all the more addictive live than on the records (yes, “Kiss Me Again” is what I’m talking about). For being so petite, Jardine can absolutely control the crowd and stand her ground. She never stood still, constantly running across stage to where each member was. There’s a reason why these guys have gotten all this hype over the last couple years – they know exactly what they’re doing.
Our beloved fellas in The Wonder Years took the stage next. What I remember most about seeing these guys for my first time in 2011 was how much energy the guys had. This sentiment reigns true more than ever nowadays. Soupy went from being on his knees to being on top of the crowd to covering every inch of the stage throughout the set. The man is a machine. In fact, every member of the band holds his own, with the opening guitar licks of “Local Man Ruins Everything” starting the set off in a pure riot. As always, the band is all about being personal, so Soupy had interesting ways to tie all of the songs together, incorporating short little anecdotes into the set song after song. The guys even went back to the beginning and tore through “Won’t Be Pathetic Forever,” a crowd favorite for obvious reasons. At first, I found it odd that the set was to end with “Came Out Swinging,” but the I understood – start with an anthem, end with an anthem, right? Full of energy and a hint of chaos, The Wonder Years’ live show deserves all the praise.
As I’d hoped, “Awakening” started off Yellowcard’s almost 2-hour long set. What followed was the perfect mix of everything Yellowcard new and old. New cuts such as “Rivertown Blues” and “Always Summer” sounded massive live, while the little surprises (“Hollywood Died”) had the whole crowd in the air. As always, Ryan Key dominated the mic with his usual grit, while Sean Mackin had a smile on his face the whole night. “Southern Air” was the perfect pre-encore closer – I can’t think of a better song that really defines the entire feel of Yellowcard. Tay Jardine even joined the crew to help out “Here I Am Alive,” which was quite the hit.
Of course, the massive “Ocean Avenue” tore down the house last, while “Breathing” added a huge kick in the night early on. There’s a reason why Yellowcard have been on the move for the better part of the last 12 years – the guys just can’t sit still. This is how a live band is supposed to be – full of pure energy and drive. Yellowcard hold their ground every show, proving exactly why they’ve kept such a prominent legacy over the last decade.
I think what makes their live show so enjoyable is the timeless of it all. Ocean Avenue was one of the first CDs I remember having in my stereo back in the day, yet Southern Air dominated the last summer for me as I was preparing for college. That’s the beauty of Yellowcard – their sound is just classic. The music screams summer, beaches, and sunny days – their live show screams liveliness and a sense of growing restlessness. This is a band that isn’t about to slow down anytime soon, having released two full lengths in the last two years and touring nonstop. Seriously, the guys just won’t slow down.
A tour that brings together both old and new pop-punk, this is a show you can’t forget. Yellowcard’s timeless nature matched with The Wonder Year’s young drive, We Are The In Crowd’s instant likeability, and Sandlot Heroes simply memorable rock tunes. Southern Air has to be one of the best records of the year, and this tour commemorates just this – and why Hopeless Records continues to dominate the scene.
Warped Tour 2011 (Dallas, TX) - June 24, 2011 at Gexa Energy Pavilion
This year was only my second year attending Warped Tour, so I have no “glory days” of the tour to compare with. This was also my first year covering the show for AP, so I headed out to the show with excitement, as there were plenty of bands I was excited to see.
There weren’t a lot of bands playing early, so it was either start with Attack Attack! or Dance Gavin Dance; I chose the latter, as I do enjoy their music. The one the only Jonny Craig was clad in quite a unique outfit (see pictures for evidence) and angrily joked with the kid who had a “I want my MacBook” sign. Kicking off with “Lemon Meringue Tie,” the crew tore through the set. Jon Mess’ unmistakable screams contrasted with Craig’s wail quite well. Playing newer cuts such as “Elder Goose” and “The Robot with Human Hair Pt. 2 ½,” Dance Gavin Dance wasted no time packing the punches. The set was definitely enjoyable, so if you’re a fan of the band, I recommend catching them.
Up next I headed over to see Simple Plan, as I grew up on them and thought it would be fun to catch them live. However, I sadly had to sit through what sounded like dogs dying as I Set My Friends On Fire finished up their set. Having never listened to them, it was worse than I expected. Within the ten minutes I was in ear shot distance from them, I heard about 15 “are you coming yet” and “is anyone here pregnant” jokes and the likelihood. It was that bad.
Thankfully, Simple Plan came on still full of the same youthful energy from their early work, kicking off with “Shut Up!” They sounded just as good – if not better – than they do on the records, which is always a good thing. They played “Can’t Keep My Hands Off You” and “Loser of the Year” off their new record, but mainly stuck to the …Still Not Getting Any-era hits, which wasn’t a bad thing. Finishing with “Addicted” into “I’d Do Anything” was incredibly enjoyable and nostalgic. Oh and the fact that they didn’t play any Simple Plan tracks was a plus as well. Can’t recommend seeing these guys enough; it was a super fun set.
Following SP, I was incredibly anxious to see Moving Mountains, as Waves is one of my favorite records of the year. Gregory Dunn belted his lungs out to the crowd, while the rest of the crew played their hearts out. Tracks such as “Alleviate” and “Where Two Bodies Lie” were simply flawless, full of just as much emotion as on the record. The musicianship of the band was top notch, as each member played with full intensity, holding nothing back. As a band I expected to blow me away, Moving Mountains were stunning, and they were easily one of the best of the day.
The Dangerous Summer tied with The Wonder Years for the band I was most excited to see, and both exceeded my expectations in their own way. Beginning with “Where I Want To Be,” The Dangerous Summer started the set at full speed. Perdomo carried even more intensity live than on the record – which I didn’t think was possible – making him the most intense performer of the day. “Weathered” was also a massive highlight, as Perdomo held nothing back. They played three cuts off of the fantastic War Paint. “No One’s Gonna Need You More” was a lot of fun played live; it’s one of the most upbeat, fun tracks off the record. “Good Things” was solid as well, but it was the final “Work In Progress” that was even more breathtaking on the on the record. The intensity the whole band had throughout the song – especially during the climatic ending – was remarkable. The set was flawless. Just flawless.
Go Radio were up next, a band I was very excited to see as I’d never seen Lancaster live. Sure enough, the guys were solid. Blending Lucky Street hits with older material from their Do Overs and Second Chances EP, Go Radio were the full package as simply a fun, upbeat show. They even played the emotional “Goodnight Moon,” which was a great surprise. It was even better live than on the EP. Finishing with “Any Other Heart,” Go Radio weren’t going to let the 30 minute timer stop them, playing with full force and holding nothing back. As a huge fan of Lancaster-era Mayday Parade and Go Radio, this set was incredibly entertaining.
And then came The Wonder Years. And boy did they come out swinging. Having just as much emotion and intensity as on their records, The Wonder Years put on a splendid performance. “Local Man Ruins Everything” and “My Last Semester” were complete crowd favorites, as Soupy’s delivery was personal and intense. What stuck out most about the performance was how personal the band made the show. Soupy explained every song and what it meant, making the performance a very fan-based show, which was incredible to see. He even climbed into the crowd on the last track. Finishing with “Washington Square Park,” The Wonder Years killed it song after song. Easily one of the top sets of the day – between The Dangerous Summer and Moving Mountains it’s hard to choose – these guys are without a doubt a band to see, no questions asked.
For the last performance of the day I caught A Day To Remember, who probably had the biggest crowd of any band all day,on the main stage hoping to end the day with a bang. However, I was sadly disappointed in the band. It just seemed…messy. Sure, frontman Jeremy McKinnon knew how to get the crowd going and keep the intensity up, but it seemed they were more focused on the intensity of the show than the actual performance, as it wasn’t great vocally. The What Separates Me From You tracks reminded me why I was disappointed with that record last year, as the band played a majority of the songs from that, nearly all of which fell short. “Sticks and Bricks” lacked any memorable content, while “Second Sucks” and “You Be Tails, I’ll Be Sonic” sounded sloppy. It wasn’t all bad, though, as the opening “I’m Made of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?” was a good place to start. However, as the set progressed, it just seemed too build on exciting the crowd as opposed to focusing on the music, making the whole set fall short.
Although I ended the day on a mediocre note, unfortunately, I am incredibly happy with the bands I saw. I cannot recommend seeing The Dangerous Summer, The Wonder Years, and Moving Mountains enough, as each band is stunning live. I’d also highly recommend catching Go Radio for fun and Simple Plan if you grew up on them, as it was a trip down memory lane for me. I am sad I missed Relient K, as I’m sure they put on a great show. I also heard The Devil Wears Prada and August Burns Red killed it, so same goes there. Overall, it was a very fun day, and I couldn’t be more pleased with those bands. For the first day of the tour, it signifies that it should be a fun summer in the sun, as the good bands are great.
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The upcoming The Wonder Years three-track-sampler definitely has got me more stoked on the record than I even already was.
Of course, "Local Man Ruins Everything" has already been on repeat all week. It's arguably one of my top 5 favorite songs thus far in the year, and a great single at that. Soupy is full of fervor, and his lyrical abilities are top notch once again. If you haven't heard it, go stream it here - now.
"Coffee Eyes" continues with the energy of "Local Man" only times five. Soupy's vocals are raw and cutthroat here, adding emotion to the addictive track. The chorus will have you singing along after only a couple listens, as the guitars shred in the background. A different feel from the majority of The Upsides, this track is real and honest, with the different vocal style being a welcomed change.
Lastly, "Don't Let Me Cave In" is a softer cut at first, much more similar to The Upsides sound. However, once the guitars pick up and the energy is there once again, this track could prove to be one of the best tracks on the record, it seems.
Basically, this sampler makes one thing clear about Suburbia I've Given You All And Now I'm Nothing, it will be a record of further progression - of more energy and honesty. Get excited for the best pop-punk record of the year, as it's already pretty evident that Suburbia will be just that. Yeah, these songs are that good.
Everyone's favorite pop-punk album of the year, The Wonder Years' The Upsides will be re-released on Hopeless Records on September 21st with four additional tracks. After receiving the album, my verdict is that as expected, the additional tracks are great. No question about it.