Yellowcard

support Saves The Day + The Wonder Years
author PP date 10/12/11 venue Knust, Hamburg, GER

Hamburg is a long way to drive from Copenhagen. A little over five hours, to be exact. So initially the thought of spending a total of ten hours in the car driving back and forth to a Yellowcard show that would almost certainly be identical to their August show in Denmark was a little too much. Even with Saves The Day on the bill, who continue to be criminally underrated despite their seminal status in two wholly different music scenes. But then The Wonder Years were added, who were probably the most relevant and trending band of 2011 given their album-of-the-year candidate "Suburbia, I've Given You All And Now I'm Nothing", and suddenly it became a "how do we get there/should we stay overnight/can we get an interview sorted" kind of an ordeal. The show sold out weeks in advance, so our party was inadvertently smaller than initially planned, and hence yours truly and our photographer Lykke decided to merely trek to Hamburg and back all within the same night instead of checking out the local nightlife after the show. 10 hours is a long time to spend in a car, but sacrifices must be made for good coverage. Oh, and apologies for the delay in this review, project deadlines and Christmas/New Years kind of got in the way.

'Soupy' of The Wonder Years

The Wonder Years

Whenever one of your favorite bands is the opening act on a three band bill, you're always anxious over the crowd response and how the sound is going to be like. Tonight, the 560 capacity Knust is sold out and already packed to its limits as The Wonder Years go on stage and start out with "Came Out Swinging", the opening track from their new album, but immediately from the beginning they start facing problems. For starters, the sound is an echoing mess that leaves the guitars sounding blurry and vocals slightly too low in the mix. It won't improve throughout the set, as the knobs are probably set for lighter and brighter material pending the Yellowcard set later. Secondly, they face a crowd who, save for maybe five or six people (out of 560, no exaggeration), looks like they have a) no idea who is on stage, and b) have never heard punk rock in their entire lives, whether emotionally charged or not. In the beginning, that doesn't seem to phase Soupy and company, as they blaze through "Melrose Diner", "Local Man Ruins Everything" and "Logan Circle" with admirable energy. We're talking classic pop-hardcore stuff: all members are throwing themselves in waves towards the crowd, occasionally crashing into each other, and practically spending more time in air than on the stage. You can't blame them for not trying, at least. But once we reach "Don't Let Me Cave In", their energy starts dwindling down because the crowd is almost completely dead, aside from a two-man mosh pit consisting of a couple of die-hard The Wonder Years fans who have been singing along to every lyric since the opening song. With better circumstances, the same set would've been at least a full grade higher, if not more.

7

Setlist:

  • 1. Came Out Swinging
  • 2. Melrose Diner
  • 3. Local Man Ruins Everything
  • 4. Logan Circle
  • 5. My Last Semester
  • 6. Don't Let Me Cave In
  • 7. Hoodie Weather
  • 8. Washington Square Park

Chris Conley of Saves The Day

Saves The Day

You can be forgiven for not knowing The Wonder Years if you are a Yellowcard fan tonight. After all, their breakthrough has taken place in the underground and they are only just on the verge of entering mainstream knowledge. But Saves The Day, well, they are the kind of band inexcusable for not knowing. I mean fuck, Yellowcard probably wouldn't have written "Ocean Avenue" if it wasn't for Saves The Day's "Through Being Cool". Yet when vocalist Chris Conley polls the crowd by asking who's seen Saves The Day before, all of NINE people put their hands up in the 560 strong crowd. It's disheartening to watch a few hundred teens and youth in their early twenties be completely ignorant to one of the most important bands in their own genre, but then again, that might have to do with Saves The Day never really receiving the promotional push they deserve. Tonight, they have one of the best sounds I've come across in a live environment, in stark contrast with the muddy sound of The Wonder Years just before. Their songs are great to start out with, but the pitch-perfect sound really helps them pull through their set with almost majestic class. There isn't much movement on stage, but this is one of the rare instances where it is not absolutely necessary to make it into an elaborate show because the songs are so good that they speak for themselves.

They are an emo band at heart, but they're completely in touch with their past, with all eras well represented tonight (which isn't the case for many other bands), although the set is loaded with songs from newest album "Daybreak" and a combination of their melodic hardcore classics from "Through Being Cool" and "Stay What You Are" albums. Despite airing "Shoulder To The Wheel", "Third Engine", "Holly Hox, Forget Me Nots" and many other outright classics in punk rock, the crowd stands in deafening silence during the songs, clearly having never heard these tracks before in their life. In that sense, the whole ordeal feels almost like a private showcase to the few Saves The Day fans in the venue given how packed the place is and how nobody else seems to know them. There's also a casual, down-to-earth vibe to the band as they play, but yet it all sounds so perfect, so right, so brilliant in terms of pure songwriting that one descends into a trance-like state, ignoring the rest of the crowd and focusing solely on Conley's fantastic vocal performance and how tightly the rest of the band plays their songs. Even though Saves The Day have been a band for 17 years now, they look invigorated and more relevant than ever on stage tonight, putting into shame tonight's co-headliners through simply superior songwriting. With a proper crowd response, we would've been near a perfect show here.

Setlist:

  • 1. Firefly
  • 2. Shoulder To The Wheel
  • 3. Deranged & Desperate
  • 4. The End
  • 5. Cars & Calories
  • 6. 1984
  • 7. Anywhere With You
  • 8. Freakish
  • 9. Holly Hox Forget Me Nots
  • 10. Eulogy
  • 11. Undress Me
  • 12. Can't Stay The Same
  • 13. Third Engine
  • 14. At Your Funeral

Yellowcard

Yellowcard

Though the tour was advertised as a co-headline, it might as well have been a Yellowcard headline tour tonight given how their fans sold out the show weeks in advance. Unsurprisingly, the crowd takes care of most of the singing throughout their set, starting with a moderate sing along to "For You, And Your Denial" as a warm up, before exploding into a thunderous roar for the first "Ocean Avenue"-era song "Way Away". Tonight, it is more important than usually, as vocalist Ryan Key informs us he is ill after the third song, which explains why he sounded so quiet and off-key in the beginning of the set. Kudos for putting on a show nonetheless, but given how vocal-driven Yellowcard songs are, it does reduce their impact tonight, mainly because he spends so much time away from the mic, rocking out by the barrier or stepping forward in front of the mics to get more acquainted with the crowd. So while him catching a cold affects the vocals, their performance is every bit as energetic and passionate as it normally is, and it continues to surprise me how down-to-earth the band looks and feels like despite receiving a loud sing a long to pretty much any song they choose to play.

Most of the material tonight is split between "Ocean Avenue", "Paper Walls" and "When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes", so like I mentioned earlier about some bands ignoring particular eras, Yellowcard is one of those bands, as they seem to have pretty much forgotten that they have three albums before "Ocean Avenue" as well. But that's okay. Everyone here came for the voluminous sing alongs of the pop rock songs, not necessarily for depth in songwriting or an impressive stage show. Unfortunately, that has the effect of branding tonight as another day in the office for Yellowcard. It all feels a bit underwhelming, like a typical Saturday night sing along but without any sort of connection between the band and the crowd. There is no remarkable energy, and in particular, no emotional intensity of the kind we just saw with Saves The Day moments before. Coupled with the fact that Yellowcard sink several times into their cliché ballad material, the set takes a very mainstream and ultimately far less interesting direction, especially when placed in such stark contrast with the undeniably superior songwriting of Saves The Day. I hate to say it but their songs just seem so trivial and unimportant in comparison.

Yellowcard violinist Sean Mackin

Moreover, the set is plagued with far too many slow songs that kill the momentum each time the band regains it with high-energy songs like "Shrink The World", "The Sound Of You And Me", "Breathing" among others. And when they go on to play for 1 hour and 20 minutes, the set starts feeling unbearably long because it is riddled with similar stop/start moments of energy. But I don't mean to be too harsh on the band on purpose. They still play a good set, and one that's impossible to rate lower because of the wonderful crowd response they receive night in night out. Shame about Ryan's vocals, it could have been much better. P.s. the band announced that as soon as they are finished with this tour, they'll be starting on a new record.

Setlist:

  • 1. For You, And Your Denial
  • 2. Way Away
  • 3. Shrink The World
  • 4. Rough Landing, Holly
  • 5. Light Up The Sky
  • 6. Soundtrack
  • 7. With You Around
  • 8. The Sound Of You And Me
  • 9. Only One
  • 10. Breathing
  • 11. Cut Me, Mick
  • 12. Believe
  • 13. Sing For Me (acoustic)
  • 14. Hang You Up
  • 15. Be The Young
  • 16. Lights And Sounds
  • 17. Ocean Avenue

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