Yellowcard

support The Blackout + Like Torches
author TL date 11/02/13 venue Lille Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

Before 2011, I had waited almost seven years to see Yellowcard, one of the bands responsible for getting me into rock music (with their legendary pop-punk classic "Ocean Avenue"). Since then, I've managed to already catch them three times and I think it's only fitting for everybody to just sit back and appreciate how rare of a comeback they've made, for a band pushing fifteen years of experience and playing in a genre that few credit with an overabundance of lasting value. Bands of all kinds of different levels of hype come to Denmark and struggle to fill venues, but there's a solid queue lined up outside of Lille Vega tonight even before the opening, so even though the organisers have put on the first support only 15 minutes after doors, there is actually a good score and half waiting to check them out.

Yellowcard's Ryan Key joining Like Torches on stage

Like Torches

I never had time to check out Stockholm quintet Like Torches (formerly You Ate My Dog) much before the show, but from their first song and onwards it's clear that this young outfit plays pop-punk in the faster and heavier end of the spectrum and that they are the very picture of commendable youthful enthusiasm. Hindered by the usual limitations on support bands, they come through the PA system sounding a rather messy blur, with any guitar tone and melody being really hard to properly appreciate, but you can at least hear that they must have good sound in their own monitors, because everything sounds tight and on key even through the distortion. The group seems used to having to overcome such odds however, with everybody moving feverishly at all times, lead by frontman Jonathan Kärn flailing, skipping and fist-pumping wildly to each movement of their songs. He puts out a high, powerful cry that sounds like it could be really awesome on record, and engages the crowd enthusiastically between songs (although not side-stepping any clichés). With the venue only gradually filling up as they play however, even a guest appearance from Yellowcard's Ryan Key does not get too much going on the floor, yet Like Torches still give off the vibe of a band that you should definitely look out for if you're into their genre.

7

The Blackout's Sean Smith handling his microphone with practised movement

The Blackout

I can think of a lot of interesting ways to introduce The Blackout, but for now let's call them: The best band to see among bands that have gotten less and less interesting on record for each they've released. The Welsh sextet are a party-band through and through, and everything they do is geared entirely towards starting a riot, as emphasised by their first song barely starting before red-haired frontman Sean Smith - dressed in a shirt that says "I MAKE DIRTY LOVE" on the back and "THEY SEE ME ROLLING THEY BE HATIN'" on the front - jumps into the crowd and drags his microphone cord after him as he encourages several females to dance with him, only to eventually show his impatience by feigning blowing his own head off with the microphone and dropping stiff to the floor in a way that looks and sounds painful. He's quickly to his feet again though, and from then on competes with his partner on stage, fellow singer Gavin Butler, in a flurry of cliche mic-swinging acrobatics, even pulling out a few that an old rat like myself haven't seen before. Meanwhile, the band puts out their music as well, crooning wild lyrics over melodies the girls can hum along to and meaty, hammering nu-metallic guitar chords that make the guys feel like slamming something and flashing over-the-top harmonized mini solos to spark things up on occasion. The music is shamelessly vulgar however, as is the show, but the appeal of The Blackout has always been how convincingly they can rock conjure up the crazy rock'n'roll show, and judging by how many look like they've been converting to wanting to jump around and have a good time after the band's late sit-down/jump-up maneuvre, it's not a freak coincidence that the lads are still going strong. Simply put, TBO do what they do, putting on a show excellently in the department of what you can see and questionable in the department of what you can hear:

Yellowcard

Now, I don't keep up with Danish mainstream music media, but from what I know of them I'd imagine they'd question Yellowcard's continued relevance. The packed-to-the-rafters-ness of Lille Vega by the time the Florida quintet comes on is something I wish they'd witness then, as well as the smiles of appreciation (even if not of recognition), that greets the band when they open with a couple of songs from their most recent album "Southern Air". Showing that he is not afraid of his audience at this point in his career, singer/guitarist Ryan Key quickly follows his introduction of the band with the suggestion that "we're all going to have much more fun at the rock and roll show if we don't watch it through the video recording screen of our smartphones". While the early remark does not come out without sounding a bit cranky, all seems forgiven as the band carries on with wild fan favourites like "For You And Your Denial" and "Breathing".

And it makes sense, because if you're not looking very closely, Yellowcard look like the very model of an energetic, forthcoming band. Key and violinist Sean Mackin smoothly fill out any gaps between songs with jovial banter and nobody stands still for a second while playing their instruments - I make special note of lead guitarist Ryan Mendez flashing both skill and enthusiasm on a few occasions of stepping up on his monitor. Meanwhile the audience is licking it all up, although the singalong response is louder the closer the material is to the band's "Ocean Avenue" era - this is just predictable considering how hopeless the Danish scene is at keeping up with international bands. I doubt it gets noticed by many in the room then, that the sound gradually worsens as the show progresses, with Key seemingly wearing down and getting less tuneful despite a heroic effort at the mic stand.

I get the feeling though, that there's wear and tear luring just underneath the extremely professional demeanour of the band on stage, which does detract a bit of magic from the show, compared to the "stoked-to-be-back"-ness of 2011's triumph here in the same venue. That said though, no bands are in zone every single night, and the way Yellowcard handle themselves speak volumes of their commitment to the way people experience their show. Furthermore, even while noticing these knocks on the show, HES and myself are still rocking about like our mid-teen selves to "Only One" and "Ocean Avenue", and both of us are engaged by the intimacy Key and Mackin create in the anecdotes that prelude "Believe" and "Sing For Me" - despite us knowing that these get told every night and despite us being at the tail end of a couple of very long days. Between the frightening consistency of their world-class pop-punk material, and the stubborn professionalism of their veteran showmanship, Yellowcard manage to still send everybody off smiling in the monday night, even two maturing sceptics that otherwise find it increasingly hard to connect with the days when we first heard the band.

8

Setlist:

  • Awakening
  • Surface of the Sun
  • Way Away
  • Breathing
  • Rivertown Blues
  • Light Up the Sky
  • Always Summer
  • Here I Am Alive
  • For You, and Your Denial
  • With You Around
  • Drum Solo
  • Holly Wood Died
  • Five Becomes Four
  • Sing for Me
  • Believe
  • Lights and Sounds
  • Southern Air
  • -- Encore --
  • Only One
  • Ocean Avenue

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