After 10 albums, 12 singles, 14 music videos, and 2 decades of giving millions of fans all over the world the gift of their music, it’s officially time to say a tearful goodbye to the Floridian turned Californian pop-punkers – Yellowcard. Excuse me while I get my tissues ready.
A Look Back at the Yellowcard Discography
I’ve listened to Midget Tossing, Where We Stand, and One For The Kids in the past, but due to Ocean Avenue‘s breakout success it’s only fair to start off my reflection from that album. There’s a reason why it stood out and was the jumpstart of their long, successful career – it’s damn near perfect. From start to finish your ears are intrigued by frontman Ryan Key‘s vocal ability to make you wanna dance or make you wanna cry from one song to the next,the incorporation of Sean Mackin‘s utterly impressive violin skills, and the versatility of the album as a whole instrumentally, vocally, and lyrically. The 2013 acoustic re-release only proved its influence and resonated to the kids who are now going through the same struggles they wrote songs about. Ocean Avenue is filled with anthems that could be applied to many different situations in life and is why it got the band where they are today.
Apart from Ocean Avenue and their final album (which I will get into later on in this piece), two albums have stood out to me the most out of their extensive discography – Lights and Sounds and When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes.
My favorite Yellowcard song ever is “Rough Landing, Holly” and I will forever be entranced by its accompanying music video and its hidden tragedy of a young woman, who manages to bring chaos to anyone in her path. That storyline, which I may have thought up all on my own and not even exist, continues on throughout the album as if it were a play. Key’s words in each track re-tell this imaginary character’s story, while the instrumentation documents the nature of the situation being played out in your ears until this character’s demise at the end of the album. I guess you can say Lights and Sounds sang to my creative writer’s imagination.
2011’s When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes hit, and continues to hit, close to home with me. I was in my first years of college when Yellowcard returned from their hiatus and released the album that I still consider my favorite album to this very day. It almost reminded me of a more mature Ocean Avenue and, in a similar fashion, contains tracks that are not only anthemic, but also more relatable the older I got. “Be The Young” is one of those tracks that I always look back on when I’m feeling a little bit lost in life as it’s a reminder that life is too short to be stressing out about things that are out of my control. Tracks from When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes have played a part in different parts of my life since its release and will always hold a special place in my heart.
Of course, I still appreciate the works that are Paper Walls, Southern Air and Lift A Sail and the personal connection the band members and hardcore fans of those albums possess. There are a handful of songs from each that I can safely say have been the only way I could really understand or cope with certain things going on in my life. Personally for me When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes spoke to me during a vulnerable time in my life while Lights and Sounds made me appreciate a more theatrical take on a sound that I already fell in love with through Ocean Avenue.
The Final Year
2016 Van’s Warped Tour
Their announcement of their final album was heart-wrenching to say the least, so it came to no surprise that their last stint on the Van’s Warped Tour was going to be a must see for all longtime fans. I myself was absolutely NOT going to miss Yellowcard rock the 2016 Warped Tour, so I literally drove 6 hours at the ass crack of dawn from Los Angeles to Mountain View to experience their very last Warped show. I had seen them at Warped before, but it was clear that crowd surrounding them were true fans from all the day-drunk tears, respectful cheering, and every single song lyric being sung at the top of their lungs quite literally like it was the last time they would ever see them.
The Final Album
I’ll be honest, I was little worried about how the band’s final album was going to go with how easily disappointment could follow something that has a strong emotional attachment for the fans. Luckily, the release of their self titled effort’s first (and last) lead single “Rest In Peace” reassured listeners that the album was in fact written for them. They used pretty much every song on Yellowcard to express not only their understanding of how their breakup might have affected their fans, but also explained in the most honest way possible why their musical journey has to come to an end. “A Place We Set Afire” became the last single/music video and I for one was very grateful for their decision to choose that song to end on. Yellowcard was the final chapter in their two decade long career and is one that their fans will appreciate as the years pass. It was the best possible way to say goodbye.
The Last Show x2
You rarely get to hear a band play an entire album in its entirety and certainly not when they’ve been around for 2 decades. With the rise of album anniversary tours in the past few years, Yellowcard added a few dates to their final tour where they would be playing the influential Ocean Avenue from beginning to end. One of those dates was their October show at The Novo in Downtown LA, which I was lucky to have gotten a chance to go to as the tickets sold out in the blink of an eye. I went into the with the mindset of “wow, this is going to be the last time I ever see Yellowcard”, so there was a lot of emotion going on there for not only me but for the fans that screamed out every lyric of every song that surrounded me. Shoot, I was pretty much crying when Ryan was on stage doing his little thank you speech. The only complaints I had about the show were 1. I wish I didn’t come by myself (my boyfriend had to work last minute, so I sold his ticket) and 2. I wish I got to hear more songs from the other albums (silly I know because I totally knew what I was getting into for that show).
A few months go by until a life-changing announcement from the band came to light – they were adding a few more Southern California dates to the end of the tour. This was it, the concert Gods were looking out for me to make sure that my number 2 complaint from the first show became non-existent. You better believe that I did everything I could possibly do to snag tickets. It only took about 4 hours in traffic to get there, but my official last time seeing Yellowcard ever was equal parts exciting, heartbreaking and, oddly, terrifying. I would’ve never thought that a Yellowcard show would consist of:
- being caught in what felt like 5 mosh pits throughout the show
- almost being crushed by dozens of crowd surfers
- being launched from the back center of the crowd to practically being on stage within seconds of the first note being played
- waking up the next day feeling like I got run over by 100 semitrucks
I have to say their final show at The Observatory North Park was by far the wildest show I’ve ever been too and I will forever keep those memories with me. It’s definitely a show that I would tell my future kids and grandkids about.
The End of an Era
Breakups in and of itself always suck, but there’s a little bit more sting when a band you grew up with says goodbye forever. Luckily, Yellowcard did it in the most tasteful, honest and heartfelt way. They not only wrote their entire final album dedicated to their fans, but also did their best to make sure that their touring schedule was able to reach as many of those fans as possible. Their music will forever live on in the hearts of their fans and with that said, R.I.P. Yellowcard. You will be missed but never forgotten. My inner emo kid will always remember the influence that you’ve had on my music taste growing up.
Catch up on MEB’s thoughts on Yellowcard’s work at the links below:
Interview with violinist Sean Mackin by Austin Gordon
Album Review for Ocean Avenue by Corey Hoffmeyer
Album Review for Lights and Sounds by Megan Ammer
Album Review for Paper Walls by Dylan Powell
Album Review for When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes by Landon Defever
Single Review for “Always Summer” by Dylan Powell
6 Word Reviews for Southern Air by various staff
Album Review for Southern Air by Austin Gordon
Album Review for Ocean Avenue Acoustic by Heather Allen
Album Review for Lift A Sail by Heather Allen
Editorial from Sharan Paul
Album Review for Yellowcard from Heather Allen