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Yellowcard Reflects on Two Decades of the album that ‘changed their lives’ on Ocean Avenue Anniversary Tour

Midway through their set in Chicago, Mayday Parade singer Derek Sanders looked out into the packed crowd and said “Emo music is alive and well in 2023, do you know what I mean?” before launching into the pop punk band’s piano ballad “Miserable at Best.” Based on the crowd’s reaction, it certainly was.

The band was opening for violin-heavy pop punk band Yellowcard. The headlining act performed in Chicago on July 16 on their first headlining tour since their “final tour” culminated in 2017. At the time, it really was the band’s final tour. After 20 years, the pop punk band decided to break up—but that breakup wasn’t meant to be as they reunited to play the 2003 album Ocean Avenue in full at Chicago’s Riot Fest in 2022.

That reunion show inspired the tour that Yellowcard is currently embarking on, celebrating Ocean Avenue‘s 20-year anniversary. It’s not an anniversary that fans thought that they’d be celebrating with the band, and the appreciation that they were celebrating the album that’s sold nearly two million copies in the past two decades, and is considered one of the best pop punk albums of all time, was palpable. The band was happy to be celebrating it as well.

During the show, Yellowcard frontman Ryan Key acknowledged the album and said that it changed the lives of every member of the band, mentioning that the Chicago date was the “biggest show of the tour so far,” adding that the band normally plays at the 1,800-capacity House of Blues when they play in Chicago, but because of the demand for this reunion tour, they were instead playing the Huntington Bank Pavilion, which can hold up to 30,000 people.

“You’ve brought us back to life,” Key said to the crowd during the concert. “This is the biggest tour of our career, and we’re going to enjoy each and every moment of this for as long as we can.”

Opening up that night for the recently-reunited band were the aforementioned Mayday Parade, fellow 2000’s pop punk staples The Story So Far, and Long Beach-based duo This Wild Life, as well as a DJ set from Emo Night Brooklyn that played in between artists. Sure, this tour, reflecting on 20 years since the release of Yellowcard’s standout album Ocean Avenue, brought out a lot of fans for nostalgic purposes–the band knows that, too. Literal street signs that said Ocean Ave. were some of the top sellers at their merch tent. But nostalgia can only get you so far.

That was made audibly clear throughout the night. In between artists, a DJ from Emo Night Brooklyn would come out to hype up the crowd, as a series of pop punk and emo hits from the aughts, like Paramore’s “Misery Business,” and “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” by My Chemical Romance, blared through the speakers, and the crowd loudly sang back. You could hear people screaming along to New Found Glory’s “My Friends Over You” from outside of the venue, but the noise paled in comparison to fans singing along to the first song in Yellowcard’s set, “Way Away,” which culminated in a deafening roar from the crowd.

The band played several songs off of their most famous LP, like “Empty Apartment,” “Life of a Salesman,” and “Back Home,” before culminating in an encore of “Only One” and “Ocean Avenue.” But they didn’t just . During the concert, Yellowcard announced their latest EP, and first release since reuniting, “Childhood Eyes,” and played the title track off of it. One of the things that has always set Yellowcard apart from other acts in the genre is its utilization of violinist Sean Mackin, who overwhelmingly received the loudest reception during the band’s introductions.

Even after 20 years, Mackin still shreds on the violin, most impressively on the Ocean Avenue track “Breathing.” If fans missed Yellowcard’s tour, they don’t need to worry. After the band’s breakup and recent reunion, Key announced at the Chicago concert that  “As long as you keep coming, we’ll keep playing,” Key said. Yellowcard will be on tour in the United States through Aug. 18, and is also playing the When We Were Young Festival this fall.

Photos by Kassidy Paige from Yellowcard’s show in Minneapolis. Full gallery here.

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