Ocean Avenue was released on July 22nd, 2003. I was 11 years old. From that moment on, I knew that this band would leave a permanent mark on me. There was something about their sound and how different they were from every other band that made me fall so in love with them. In 2012, my 11 year old self was ecstatic when I had the opportunity to catch a small portion of Yellocard’s set at the Vans Warped Tour stop in Holmdel, New Jersey. Unfortunately, I had to leave their set early, but for those few songs I caught, I was over the moon.
When the band announced they would be doing an acoustic tour in honor of the 10-year release of Ocean Avenue, I was so excited…until I saw that there was no New Jersey dates and both of the New York dates had sold out. For months, I was frustrated and patiently waiting for the band to announce some other tour so I could finally catch a full set of theirs. Thankfully, the band announced they would be doing a second round of dates for the acoustic tour and one of them was at a favorite venue of mine, Starland Ballroom. I wasn’t missing this show for the world. And even though I had to leave their set early – AGAIN – right after their acoustic set (for reasons beyond my control), just seeing and hearing them play live made me fall in love with them all over again.
Openers, What’s Eating Gilbert, immediately had the crowd’s attention from the moment they stepped foot on stage. This was my first time seeing or hearing the band, for that matter, and I was extremely impressed! Not to mention that their cover of “Pretty Woman” was nothing but pure genius. Seriously. If you’re doubting me, go google their cover. Fantastic. And their snazzy wardrobe was definitely a perk as well.
Once they left the stage, the crowd was stuck with nothing to do but wait for Yellowcard to start their set. Well…that’s not completely true. One of the many reasons that I love Starland Ballroom? They play the best handful of songs in between sets that call for the most awesome sing-alongs you’ll ever be a part of. The songs that night included The Starting Line, Blink 182, and even some old school Panic! At The Disco. After the sing-alongs and 5 minutes worth of $3.50 shots (yeah, that was a thing), the band I had loved since I was 11 hit the stage. The lights dimmed and the stage was covered in selectively placed lights to truly make this acoustic set one that was very intimate.
Lead singer, Ryan Key, outlined four rules for the night. Two of the most important rules? 1. Sing along until you lose your voice and 2. Enjoy the show through your eyes rather than your phone. As the first few chords of “Way Away” began to play, you could feel the atmosphere change. There was nothing but excitement, adrenaline and love for the band on stage that was holding every single persons attention. And even though this was technically an acoustic set, that didn’t stop people from crowd-surfing through the first few songs. Hey, we’re from Jersey. We go hard!
Now there’s a lot that could be said about this band, this album, and this performance. The first thing that comes to mind though? Incredible. As the band played through the album, from “Way Away” to “Ocean Avenue” to what Key likes to call “number 6” to “View From Heaven” and “One Year, Six Months” – it was all clear: this band creates music for the fans. For anyone in attendance of the show that night, you would hear the members of the band constantly repeat how appreciative they were for every single person in the room that was singing (and even screaming) those lyrics back to them. They were appreciative that people wanted to spend their Friday nights in a crowded, sweaty room, just to hear a band play some songs. But to me, and I’m sure to most of the people in that crowd, Yellowcard will never be JUST a band playing some songs. They’re the reason why I fell in love with music. They’re a band that always gave me hope when nothing else did. They changed my life and I’m sure they’ve touched and changed the lives of many others as well.
Although I was initially disappointed with the acoustic release of this album (I had expected nothing but Key’s vocals and some acoustic guitars, not a full band), the live performance was one for the record books. The energy from both the band and the crowd bounced off each other and kept the night that much more exciting. And even though the band just wrapped up their acoustic tour, do yourself a favor and make it a goal of yours to see Yellowcard at least once in your life. Trust me – you’ll thank me later.
As I mentioned, I unfortunately did not get to stay for Yellowcard’s electric set, but I have found some videos from the show (props to the guy that recorded them for such great quality!) of some of my favorite songs which I will include below. Enjoy! Even though this contradicts one of the rules Key listed…oops?
Paper Walls | With You Around | Awakening | Lights & Sounds/Ocean Avenue