In the summer of 2003, back when I used to sprint to the nearest Best Buy or Walmart to buy the newest CD releases, Yellowcard’s Ocean Avenue hit the shelves. I remember going home and loading the album into my computer so that I could put it onto my iPod classic. I often went on bike rides listening to Ocean Avenue–it was my summer anthem album. From that point on, I’ve been a fan of Yellowcard and the art that they’ve created over the last twenty years. Having heard the news that they were going on their final tour, I knew it was an experience that I couldn’t miss. At the same time, I realized that this was going to be a hard one for not only the band, but also for the passionate fans who have supported them for so many years.
I attended the first of two nights in Chicago at the House of Blues. After seeing Yellowcard numerous times on Warped Tour, it hadn’t really hit me that this would be the last time I was seeing them play. The show started with two openers, Dryjacket and Like Torches. And then it was time. During the short change between sets, everyone in HOB anticipated what was coming. Finally, the lights dimmed as many fans either cheered or cried. After a fun little intro about experiencing the show in real life and not through cell phone screens, the band made their entrance onto the stage. They opened with two of my favorites, “Believe” and “Lights and Sounds.” The energy in the room increased almost immediately.
Yellowcard isn’t a band that just stands there and plays through their songs so they can be done for the night. They play every set with passion and put so much effort into their performances in order to ensure that their fans have the best experience. Sean Mackin on the violin always has the biggest stage presence, and this night was no different. He interacted not only with the crowd but with the photographers in the photo pit as well. Somehow, he always brings the energy and makes for a memorable night. As usual, Ryan Key did an excellent job at communicating and connecting with the audience after every song, even going so far as to give deeper explanations behind the meanings of certain tracks. Coming fresh off of the Chicago Cubs’ first World Series win in 108 years, Key was sporting his Cubs shirt during the set, and he connected with the crowd by talking about his aunt and what the team meant to her.
While I’m not familiar with some of Yellowcard’s newest songs, they still kept me interested as they captured my attention throughout the night. When they finished their set with “Ocean Avenue,” it was a blissful moment: every single person and even some of the bartenders were screaming all the words back at the band. A bittersweet ending.
Sure, when many people hear the name Yellowcard, they think of the song “Ocean Avenue.” Here’s the thing: they are so much more than that one song. Yellowcard is a band comprised of guys who are incredible at what they do. They are entertainers, performers, artists, and more. Their stage presence makes you feel like they want you there to be part of the night because they succeed in playing the crowd and connecting with the fans on every level. I wish I attended night two in Chicago, as I would have loved to have had another opportunity to sing along to some of my favorite songs one last time. While Yellowcard’s time is coming to an end, they are a band that will truly live on forever. Thank you for all the years and what you have done for us. We will miss you, but it’s been a fun ride.
WORDS + PHOTOS BY COLLEEN CASEY