LIVE REVIEW: Yellowcard, Mayday Parade, Story of the Year, This Wild Life in Boston, MA (07.09.23)
(photo: Acacia Evans)
Last night something special made its way to MGM Fenway, my new favorite personal venue in the city, and it’s been a long time coming. The iconic Yellowcard performed their first show in Boston since 2016 on their farewell tour. And they currently find themselves on the 20th-anniversary tour of Ocean Avenue. Easily the biggest audience the band has headlined in Boston, and one vocalist Ryan Key commented on. Saying Key, “We stopped being a band because we couldn’t fill that room across the street,” seemingly about the House of Blues. For non-Mass residents, it is just down the street and half the capacity of MGM. A room that Yellowcard sold out practically instantly when tickets went on sale for this run. And along with them for the ride were bands that are no strangers to spending some time in the band’s company in one way or another.
Be it Key mentioning that the band and Story of the Year both were competing at the same time with their “Avenue” albums (referencing Story of the Year’s debut album, Page Avenue). Or Ryan Key talking about his time touring as a solo artist, which included an opening slot for main support on Mayday Parade‘s 2018 headline run. And of course, one can’t forget the longtime act in This Wild Life, who has been a longtime Warped tour fixture and touring mate of both of the last mentioned bands in the past. After all, the Warped Tour community, if anything, has kept the ethos of supporting and playing with friends who are just as supportive of you. And that idea was evident throughout the night.
But before one gets ahead of ourselves, the night was a four-band bill that kicked off just before seven pm with Long Beach, California’s This Wild Life. The band found themselves here just about a year ago, at yet another new venue that came to life in Covid at Crystal Ballroom in Somerville. And the love for the band was clear in the crowd. I walked into the room to the tunes of a long-time hit for the band, “Concrete,” with a rock and roll energy that made for an electric start to my evening. Working with limited space, considering the number of bands still coming in the evening, the duo quickly transitioned to “Headfirst.” As well as a great instrumental jam between founding members Kevin Jordan and Anthony Del Grosso, the band, as it became a theme throughout the night, announced that they would be back in November for a headline tour. And they sweetly finished the set by Jordan introducing the band as “your budget Blink 182 aka This Wild Life”. The band, in full, performed a short but well-suited kickoff of the night to come.
Next up was a band that has been a stranger to Boston for a long time, St. Louis, Missouri’s Story of the Year. We’re talking about 19 years, according to vocalist Dan Marsala. Marsala spoke about how the last time they played Boston was at the House of Blues, and it was the same night that the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 right across the street. Said Marsala, “They were playing the St. Louis Cardinals. We definitely got booed that night.” But despite the band not playing a show since then until last Sunday night, you definitely couldn’t tell it from the crowd. From the second the lights went down, Story of the Year rocked their way through the set with huge crowd roars. Starting it out with a brand new track, “Tear Me to Pieces,” within the crowd, the first mosh pit of the night immediately came to life, and it didn’t stop once throughout the jam-packed set. Playing both old and new, the crowd was singing along no matter what. “The Antidote” had a beautiful pivot of some slower moments but then culminated in a more ‘loving pit’ where those in the audience could be seen singing the lyrics to their friends. Or huge roars when it came to one of the bands’ earliest tracks, “Anthem of Our Dying Day.” The set slapped throughout and brought me back to the early days of Warped beautifully.
Ending the set on the perfect note with the anthemic, “Until the Day I Die,” the band exited with the mention of them returning in January, which set off the crowd. A particularly sweet moment of guitarist Ryan Phillips making a conscientious effort to pick up every set list and comically throw the set lists over his shoulder or from under his legs endeared the crowd even more. It was a tremendous Warped worthy performance from a long-loved band in Boston.
Next up was no stranger to Boston with Tallahassee’s Mayday Parade. Starting with “Oh Well, Oh Well,” Mayday Parade crushed a 40-minute set filled with all the hits. But as well as the hits, the band’s second song was a recently released new track, “More Like A Crash.” The reaction to the song wasn’t lost on the emotional frontman Derek Sanders. Sanders said, “To look out and see you singing along to a brand new song makes me very happy.”
But while the new music went over well with the crowd, the band at this point propelled into the vibes fans have fallen over for head over heels when it comes to Mayday Parade. Be it “Anywhere But Here,” Sanders prefaced the next track, “Miserable At Best,” by saying, “Emo music is alive and well. 2023, you know what I’m saying.” The resurgence of “emo music” is clear this year, and the successful transformation of festivals like When We Were Young, and Transplant has made that something true. And we’re for here it. With “Miserable At Best,” the crowd was treated to a piano performance by Sanders and drummer Jake Bundrick which had everyone in the room in tune in silence. This was great to see, considering concert etiquette is something we haven’t always seen in the best form lately. But concert etiquette in 2023 last night wasn’t an issue because the room was filled with “elder emo’s.” I wouldn’t doubt it if anyone in the room was younger than their late twenties. Collectively a crowd of people knew what pre-pandemic life was like when it came to shows and made for a magnificent night of live music.
As the band dropped into the last few tracks off their set, another new one, only about a week old this time, with “Got Me All Wrong,” the crowd indeed went off. The band concluded their set in the only way we know how they finished off their main support performance with “Jersey” and “Jamie All Over,” back to back. There’s a reason why Mayday Parade has continued to be one of the lasting acts from the Warped Era and the crowd was all over it.
And the night was not over yet as just about thirty minutes after Mayday Parade vacated the stage, Yellowcard vocalist Ryan Key led his team of boys on stage to the audience’s glee. Being the band’s first show in Boston since their farewell tour in 2016 at House of Blues, as previously mentioned, the crowd went off as the band quickly burst through a powerful hits parade. Back-to-back renditions of “Way Away,” “Breathing,” “Lights and Sounds,” and “Believe” had the crowd going insane and all before the band even said one word to the crowd. And from the crowd’s reaction, that was perfectly fine with those in attendance. Continuing into “Rough Landing, Holly,” Key chose this time to say a hypothetical, “Is anyone having a good time or what?” At this point, the show slowed as Key broke down the history with each tour opener. Be it the previously mentioned “war of the avenues” or his time as a solo artist traveling in a van again opening for Mayday Parade.
His banter was on point with the crowd and his bandmates on stage. Even bringing up the “elder emo’s” when saying, “The elder emo’s up front are getting their asses kicked.” This was just before breaking into “One Year, 6 Months” and jumping into “Hang You Up” off their album When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes, (2011). For this one, Key brought out Derek Sanders of Mayday to the stage for a duet moment, with Sanders sweetly saying after, “Give it up for Yellowcard, Boston!” Immediately, on violin, Sean Mackin said, “And if you don’t mind, make some noise for our fearless leader, Ryan Key!” The camaraderie and love for all involved continued with Key saying, “One of the best things about this tour is that I get 31 hugs from Derek Sanders”.
The positive energy never let up throughout the set as it had been the whole night, with the band quickly bursting into “Empty Apartment.” This came before playing the debut single off their first release since 2016 with “Childhood Eyes.” The title track off the new EP smashed it with the crowd, and the EP drops on July 21st, so keep your eyes peeled for that. The love and evident appreciation from the band flowed out throughout the set, be it Key saying, “We put out thirteen songs that changed our lives forever.” This and talking about the album’s producer, Neal Avron. Avron was in attendance that evening and proudly took in the show from the row in front of me. It was also complimented by the guys in This Wild Life going off for each song from outside the backstage door. The impact Yellowcard has had and still has is evident, and hopefully, they will continue to make their presence known as the emo revival comes on strong in 2023.
As the set started closing, the band ended their regular set on “Back Home” before quickly returning to the stage for the encore. The encore was kicked off with “With You Around” before quickly propelling into unquestionably two of the band’s biggest tracks with a gorgeous rendition of “Only One.” The track was before the one and only “Ocean Avenue.” With Key saying at the end before breaking into the track that made Yellowcard a household name, “This is the biggest tour we’ve ever done in our entire careers,” the crowd swooned. Only being about a week into this run and a sneaky little return back to Mass at the Worcester Palladium in just over a month near the end of the tour, Yellowcard still shows how well-loved and how much love they still have for each other overall these years. The lineup was perfectly curated, and who knows, maybe I may have to make that trek down to Worcester to see the lineup in a truly Warped fashion.