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 & Soundsfailed 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

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