Yellowcard

support Chunk! No + Captain Chunk! + Less Than Jake
author HES date 24/03/15 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Tonight the musical equivalent of mixed nuts is playing in Pumpehuset. Pre-show some friends and I discuss the line-up and it's apparent that the three bands playing tonight are each pulling their own crowd. In Denmark where the rock scene is way smaller than countries like Germany or England, it seems like a good idea to mix up genres to draw a bigger crowd, but this particular constellation has its casualties as well.

All photos courtesy of the talented Lykke Nielsen


Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!

I briefly encountered Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! at last year's Groezrock and I was left with a good impression. The band is surely the "hardest" of the bands tonight, but their mix of classic, catchy pop punk mixed with some metalcore elements is energetic and captures the attention of the slowly gathering crowd. Because of a mixup in communication, the band started already 19:45 in spite of the official website stating show start at 20:00. Because of this I and many others miss portions of the show. This doesn't seem to affect the band the least as vocalist Bertrand Poncet entertains with a bit of Google Translate-Danish in a strong French accent. I manage to claim a spot by the left side speakers and the sound is God-awful sporting a muddy treble so prominent it leaves me partially deaf. But in spite of this it is quite clear that Poncet is a very talented vocalist gliding from clear, nasal pop punk vocals not unlike those of New Found Glory's Jason Pundik into one of the cleanest metalcore growls I have heard live. Both are done with such vast amounts of confidence and excess that it's undetectable how technically impossible this feat is - there is a reason why bands usually go for two vocalists to get this done right. The band follows Poncet with catchy riffs and a couple of breakdowns - the contrast is convincingly affluent and bridges an interesting gap in genres, so much so that I will forgive the band the sing-along backtracks in one of their songs and the awful Danish.

7

Less Than Jake

Alright. Rocky Theme on, lights down low, 5 bars into the theme: Ready, set, party – cue guitar. There is very little doubt that Less Than Jake came to party tonight. With a line up the size of a small orchestra, all looking uniquely like something that came out of ska-milieu of the 00’s, horns blazing and dreads swirling as everyone in the crowd joins in on the lyrics of “Sugar In Your Gas Tank”. Guitarist Chris DeMakes and bassist Roger Lima share the lead vocal position in an energetic mix and banters with the crowd in the tradition of late-90’s punk bands like Blink-182 or NOFX – no one is allowed to not have a party.

The band brings people on stage and teaches them to do the pogo and everything is bringing me back to my days in the now demolished “Ungdomshuset” in Copenhagen where my friends and I went to listen to ska-punk and buy beers with our below drinking-age spare change. I’ll have to admit that back in those days it was Scandinavian ska I listened to like Skalar or Skatol, and Less Than Jake was actually quite an unturned leaf for me up until a week’s time ago. But it doesn’t really matter if you’re new here it seems, the band is welcoming all with their fast-paced songs – always sporting an infectious chorus or a hook from the horn section; the trombone both literally and metaphorically poking our eyes out.

On each side of the drum set two colored smoke cannons are sending bellowing smoke up in the air like a fire cannon and we’re around the third song when confetti fills the air for the first time. The crowd yells along to songs like “The Ghosts of Me and You”, “Motown Never Sounded So Good” and “Good Enough” as sporadic circle pits turn dancing pits and then circle pits again. It’s fairly common that you actually forget to focus on the details for better or worse and just lose yourself in the moment – it’s the Nirvana of rock shows when you’re not interested in whether the drums were tight or if the beef cake of a saxophonist is hitting his notes. And we’re closing in on this Nirvana tonight. Solid bass work keeps the crowd in motion as even the quieter songs keeps everyone swaying, smiling and sweating. The set ends in a fitting crescendo of teenage-classic “Plastic Cup Politics” and the fast-paced “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads” supported by toilet-paper cannons. We’re all getting fucking old here, but we don’t care. This just works.

9

Setlist:

  • 1. Sugar in Your Gas Tank
  • 2. Nervous in the Alley
  • 3. The Ghosts of Me and You
  • 4. How's My Driving, Doug Hastings?
  • 5. Automatic/We're All Dudes
  • 6. Look What Happened
  • 7. Motown Never Sounded So Good
  • 8. The Science of Selling Yourself Short
  • 9. Good Enough
  • 10. Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts
  • 11. Gainesville Rock City
  • 12. Plastic Cup Politics
  • 13. Give Me Something to Believe In
  • 14. History of a Boring Town
  • 15. All My Best Friends Are Metalheads
  • (16. Pac Man Cereal)


Yellowcard

Now, I actually came to see Yellowcard but after the performance Less Than Jake just gave us, it is honestly hard to see how the pop punkers could even follow that. The room is damp from sweat, on the floor is leftover confetti and the crowd has thinned out since Less Than Jake. The set kicks off with violinist Sean Mackin entering, as he plays fragile somber tones all alone with the lights turned down low. I guess it would’ve probably worked in another situation, but in this room everybody was just laughing and dancing moments ago and the sudden change in severity ends up feeling more like self-importance rather than emotive. The band has been playing a while now with Less Than Jake and it seems like the band has coordinated nothing with this fact – starting with 3 songs from their new album “Lift A Sail”: “Convocation”, “Transmission Home” and “Crash The Gates”.

Out of the three only “Crash The Gates” has any of the energy needed to pull this crowd in. Lead singer Ryan Key may be sensing the lack of enthusiasm and explains how this new album “has meant more than anything to the band to create” – which is perfectly fine, but Key neglects the fact that to this crowd, some of the band’s older songs also means a lot to them – a perfect opportunity for a compromise. And we are served “Lights and Sounds” as well as “Only One” mid-show. But “Lift A Sail” still dominates the show with close to half of the songs – but that is not really the most problematic part: They are placed at the most pivotal points for making this show work. A crucial shot at convincing the crowd that apparently mainly came to see Less Than Jake is missed in the opening, but certainly also during a middle section of “Make Me So”, “Lift A Sail”, getting pulse up a little for “Awakening” and “Light Up The Sky” but then dulling it down again with a trifecta of “One Bedroom”, “With You Around” and “Rough Landing Holly”.

As a genuine Yellowcard fan the situation becomes more and more depressing, as the confetti-covered floor lights up more and more places where feet used to be – the crowd is leaving and the question is if they would have even stayed, had the band’s mega hit from 2003 “Ocean Avenue” not been placed as the very last during an encore, that I am honestly surprised the band even do. As I sing along to “Way Away” all the way in the back as the second last song the lyrics “I think I’m breaking out, I’m gonna leave you now, there’s nothing here for me, it’s all the same” hits me like the sermon at a funeral. Never ever have I been taken back to my days as a teen and so quickly thrown back into the sad reality that this chapter of my life is over, within the span of a few hours.

5

Setlist:

  • 1. Convocation
  • 2. Transmission Home
  • 3. Crash The Gates
  • 4. Lights and Sounds
  • 5. Only One
  • 6. Make Me So
  • 7. Lift A Sail
  • 8. Awakening
  • 9. Light Up The Sky
  • 10. Rough Landing Holly
  • 11. One Bedroom
  • 12. With You Around
  • 13. Southern Air
  • 14. Believe
  • 15. California

Encore:

  • 16. Fighting
  • 17. Way Away
  • 18. Ocean Avenue

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