BY ZACHARY HANSEN/AJC Features Intern
With a career spanning almost two decades, it’s not a surprise that pop-punk band Yellowcard has decided to hang up its guitars and violin. However, what may surprise casual fans — basically everyone who holds heavy nostalgia for “Ocean Avenue” and only “Ocean Avenue” — is that the band has strong ties to the state of Georgia.
Ryan Mendez, the band’s guitarist, is originally from Macon, and the vocalist since 1999, Ryan Key, said most of his family lives in Decatur. So it’s only fitting that the band’s Masquerade show will be the final rock show performed at the Masquerade’s current spot before it switches locations. It was also before a sold-out crowd, which definitely didn’t hurt either.
This can’t be said for either of the opening acts, New Jersey’s Dryjacket and Stockholm, Sweden’s Like Torches. Both bands performed for the first time in Georgia, and this tour has been Like Torches’ first visit to the U.S., period. Both did admirable jobs, but each group excelled in different areas.
Dryjacket’s best moments were when the band played slow, heavy breakdowns, which is more in line with groove metal acts than the pop-punk bands they opened for. Unfortunately, the band’s vocals, mostly provided by Joe Junod and Brad Wyllner, often had heavy reverb effects places on them, which didn’t particularly sound flattering live. Maybe it works better on the band’s recorded material; their first studio album will drop in January 2017, but it didn’t fit live at all.
On the other hand, while Dryjacket shined at slower tempos, Like Torches were at their best when they played fast. And they played fast for most of their set. Frontman Jonathan Kärn was a constant highlight, and his energetic screams were excellent whenever he decided to cut loose. Drummer Jimmy Brunkvist also deserves a lot of credit for not only playing Like Torches’ set, but also filling in as Yellowcard’s drummer as well.
Yellowcard are obviously using this final tour as a love letter to longtime fans, playing songs from the group’s eight most recent albums.
The first two albums get snubbed, but the band had a different singer then, the band’s early sound definitely emphasized punk more than pop-punk and the group’s first album’s title, “Midget Tossing,” has not aged particularly well. There’s a reason it is the only album by the group not to be available on Spotify.
It’s impressive that Yellowcard was able to play such an even set list that really captured the group’s full catalog. Aside from “Ocean Avenue,” the band played no more than three songs from each record, including the band’s 2016 self-titled release.
However, “Ocean Avenue” is the band’s most popular album by a large margin, so it’s no surprise that the group played almost half of the entire record during the show — six tracks out of 13.
The songs chosen also showed off the many different sounds and styles the band has performed over the years. They played fast songs such as “Five Becomes Four,” heavy tracks like “Cut Me, Mick,” stripped back songs such as “Sing for Me” and even the slightly-folksy “October Nights” made an appearance.
It took the crowd a few tracks to finally reach the energy Yellowcard was obviously looking for. Key tried multiple times to get large mosh circles started to no avail, but around the time “Way Away” was performed, there was crowd surfing, head banging and fans jumping wildly along with the band.
It was also a delight to watch violinist Sean Mackin find entertaining things to do on stage when he wasn’t playing. He constantly acted like a hype man, always interacting with the crowd, doing stage backflips, taking pictures with younger fans and needlessly helping Mendez or bass guitarist Josh Portman play their guitar chords.
Early in the show, Key said he would be very disappointed if Decatur and Georgia let him down with their energy and intensity during the show — he frequently said everyone should leave the show unable to speak because they sang and yelled so much. After Yellowcard closed with their biggest hit “Ocean Avenue,” it’s safe to say mission definitely accomplished.
Yellowcard’s set list for their Saturday, Nov. 19 concert:
“Believe” (“Ocean Avenue,” 2003)
“Lights and Sounds” (“Lights and Sounds,” 2006)
“Way Away” (“Ocean Avenue,” 2003)
“Always Summer” (“Southern Air,” 2012)
“Five Becomes Four” (“Paper Walls,” 2007)
“Rest in Peace” (“Yellowcard,” 2016)
“What Appears” (“Yellowcard,” 2016)
“Rough Landing, Holly” (“Lights and Sounds,” 2006)
“Awakening” (“Southern Air,” 2012)
“Light Up The Sky” (“Paper Walls,” 2007)
“Sing for Me” (“When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes,” 2011)
“Transmission Home” (“Lift a Sail,” 2014)
“A Place We Set Afire” (“Yellowcard,” 2016)
“Life a Sail” (“Lift a Sail,” 2014)
“Gifts and Curses” (“Spider-Man 2 Soundtrack,” 2004)
“Cut Me, Mick” (“Paper Walls,” 2007)
“Breathing” (“Ocean Avenue,” 2003)
“Empty Apartment” (“Ocean Avenue,” 2003)
“October Nights” (“One for the Kids,” 2001)
“Hang You Up” (“When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes,” 2011)
“Be The Young” (“When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes,” 2011)
“Holly Wood Died” (“Lights and Sounds,” 2006)
“Only One” (“Ocean Avenue,” 2003)
“Ocean Avenue” (“Ocean Avenue,” 2003)