w/ Rock Kills Kid, Matchbook Romance, Hedley
07.11.06 @ Meadowbrook Musical Arts Center, Gilford, NH
The last year has been a tumultuous one for Yellowcard. The band’s latest album, Lights & Sounds, failed to match the multi-platinum sales of its 2003 breakthrough Ocean Avenue, and single “Rough Landing, Holly” found Yellowcard mostly abandoned by fickle pop radio. Then there were the internet gossip, singer Ryan Key’s vocal problems, the ever-changing band line-up, and the fan backlash- all inevitable results of extensive touring and runaway success. But still Yellowcard soldiers on, with this tour marking a badly needed back-to-basics approach for the energetic Jacksonville quintet. And fittingly so, of all the weapons in Yellowcard’s arsenal, its powerful, off-the-wall live show is its strongest.
Although poorly attended (the seated amphitheatre was less than half full), both the band and the audience carried a colossal presence throughout the performance. Opener Rock Kills Kid revved up the crowd with their retro dance rock, proving more worthy of success than unappealing single “Paralyze” would lead you to believe. Matchbook Romance, third on the bill, was considerably less animated than the other bands. But singer Andrew Jordan’s vocal prowess cancelled out the band’s formulaic approach to songs from its latest, Voices.
The fans who did shell out thirty-five dollars for the show however, were hanging on Key’s every word, hopelessly devoted, and the band couldn’t have been more grateful as they plowed through old favorites like “Breathing” and “October Nights.” Live performances made songs from Lights & Sounds much more endearing and genuine, especially ballads “City of Devils” and “Waiting Game.” Yellowcard soared through the first half of their set at a breakneck pace, only to fall victim to Key’s rambling intermission, an anecdote chronicling his thoughts on society, politics and such. While musicians need to have a voice, Key preached for far too long. Less talk, more rock dude.
Luckily, the band rebounded with a string of hits. Even though it hasn’t met expectations on the charts, “Rough Landing, Holly” sounded like a number one pop hit, with Sean Mackin’s violin spiraling alongside Ryan Mendez’s loud guitar riffs. The night came to a close with “Way Away” and “Lights and Sounds,” blanketing the band’s satisfied fans in pure power-pop bliss. Don’t believe everything you hear about Yellowcard, because this band is far from throwing in the towel.
Photo by Ashley Megan
Crossed Keys – Saviors
Saviors shows the work of well-seasoned musicians finding new energy in old sounds
Philadelphia’s Crossed Keys are an interesting intersection between melodic hardcore and punk, taking an earnest approach to the sound that made its way from the underground in the late 90s and early 2000s. This relatively new outfit is the result of Kid Dynamite and Samiam in a blender- in the best way possible. The Kid Dynamite influence may be a given since Crossed Eyes features KD’s drummer Dave Wagenschutz, but the band’s pedigree also includes members of bands like Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer and The Curse, all backing the melancholic vocal work of frontman Joshua Alvarez (Halo of Snakes). So while Crossed Keys are somewhat new, its members have been cutting their teeth within their respective circles for years, and their new EP Saviors shows the work of well-seasoned musicians finding new energy in old sounds.
Saviors is backboned by the furious urgency and energy that Kid Dynamite showed through their history, but while Jason Shevchuk’s vocals were beautifully abrasive, Alvarez takes a more restrained, wistful approach to singing. Songs like the opening “Times of Grace” are musically up-tempo percussions and razor-sharp guitars, but are buoyed by Alvarez’s more melodic vocals. His vocals rest at a good place between Samiam’s Jason Beebout and that NYHC tone exhibited by bands like Token Entry and Grey Area. In songs like “R.J.A” and the closing title track, Crossed Keys find more success with their brand of blistering speed meets harmony- slowing down only for the kind of melancholic punk that made Samiam a noted name. While much of Saviors is built on pace, it wasn’t always this way for the band. In fact, their 2017 EP, I’m Just Happy That You’re Here, leans closer to Samiam than it does to Kid Dynamite (the song “Jeff Pelly vs. The Empire” is particularly fantastic), so there’s been an uptick of urgency with Saviors.
For fans of any of the aforementioned bands here, there is plenty to like with Crossed Keys and plenty to like in Saviors. It’s succinct, to the point, but filled with ample reflection and exploration that gives the EP depth and resonance. Any band that has found influence from Kid Dynamite is most certainly OK by us (this site is named after a KD song after all), but Crossed Keys does more than just tip their cap. This one’s a really good one, and worth your time.
Every last time: Revisiting Gameface’s “How Far Is Goodbye?”
A glorious sound of a time gone by
Southern California’s Gameface were always a band that seemed perfect just below the cusp. Their brand of pop-tinged punk was somewhere in between the melancholy driven emo of the early 1990s to what would become of radio-friendly punk bands evolving from the Jimmy Eat Worlds of the… world.
I loved this band. It was songs like “My Star” and “When You’ve Had Enough” that captured my attention. They didn’t fit in with the punk explosion of the mid-90s and had more melodic chops than those that remained in the underground with bands like Quicksand and Texas is the Reason (the latter being the most musically similar).
To this day, I count their track “How Far Is Goodbye?” as one I can listen to on any given day and still feel the same way about it as I did years ago. It’s a glorious sound of a time gone by, and Jeff Caudill, who has been the backbone of their songwriting since the beginning, has still got the chops his ilk can only dream of. There’s a tinge of melancholy that conjures up a certain sadness, a scene in a movie where the protagonist is making their exit into the distance as the scene closes. Something about the song, the sentiment, and the lyrics that always reminds of driving away while looking at the rear view mirror.
Five years ago Gameface released a new album, Now Is What Matters, an album that perfectly encapsulated their ability to write with emotion, melody, and magnetism that only a select few seem to possess. I interviewed frontman Jeff Caudill before the album came out to chat about the band, an interview I think still holds up. Caudill has been busy since then with a lot of solo material, while the band themselves have been releasing music sporadically (mostly singles) since 2014.
While their catalog is deep, there’s one song I keep coming back to, and that’s “How Far Is Goodbye?”. Originally released on the split 10″ vinyl with Errortype: 11 in 2000, the song received an update in 2018, which you can hear below.
Gameface photo from Gameface facebook page.