House of Blues Anaheim
"There's no crying in rock 'n' roll" was a rule both spoken and broken at Yellowcard's final performance on Saturday night at the House of Blues in Anaheim. As the band's last show ever (or at least until they decide to do a reunion), tears were flowing from both band members and fans alike throughout the night, even if frontman Ryan Key swore he wouldn't until the end.
As soon as the hilariously snarky and accurate pre-show "put your phones down" disclaimer began just a few minutes after 9:00, the pop-punk band's most diehard fans knew they were about to see one of their favorite bands for the very last time. Thankfully, the Florida natives kept the energy high through the beginning of the night, kicking off the evening with "Way Away," "For You, and Your Denial" and "Lights and Sounds" before giving the crowd even a moment to sink into their feelings.
With several extended breaks to thank the fans and reminisce over nearly two decades as a band, Key (and occasionally violinist Sean Mackin) took plenty of time to give insight into the thoughts and emotions going through his head while playing tracks off records as old as their 2003 breakout Ocean Avenue and as recent as last year's self-titled release. Although varying amounts of tears filled the singer's eyes just about every time he spoke, the band made it through their entire set without bawling enough to throw off a song.
Playing each note with the energy and emotion of five guys knowing they may never see a more rabid crowd, the L.A.-based Florida natives powered through tunes like "Light Up the Sky," "Lift a Sail," and "Rivertown Blues" as the fans (many of whom traveled from other states and countries) helped sing every note and rocked out so hard that the somewhat-unstable walls of the House of Blues shook and tiny bits of the ceiling appeared to fall down. With Key directing everyone to sing and scream so loud that they couldn't speak by the end of the evening, much of the audience was committed to not letting the band down.
Beyond powerful performances of everything from "Empty Apartment" to "A Place We Set Afire," a particularly great moment went down when former bassist Sean O'Donnell joined the group onstage to perform his vocal parts of "Hang You Up" off of When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes. For a band that's been through plenty of bassists (and technically hasn't had a steady drummer since 2014), it was nice to see one of them come back for a guest appearance on the final show.
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As many times as Key thanked California (and Anaheim specifically, since their first sold-out show was at Chain Reaction) and explained how it's home to them every bit as much as Florida, the performance of "Southern Air" in particular appeared a little more meaningful for the band. Maybe it was that both Mackin and Key's mothers were in the crowd (as pointed out by the violinist) or maybe it was just reflection, but anytime Key began to talk about Florida, the early days of Yellowcard, or the fans who'd been to over 80 shows, it seemed to come out with some extra raw emotion.
After initially walking off the stage without much ado, no one was fooled into thinking the band wouldn't be back for an encore. As sobbing began all over the venue, Yellowcard began their encore with "Breathing" and "Only One" before preparing themselves and the fans for one last run of the song that singlehandedly brought them stardom.
With the night finally at its end after two hours of catchy hooks, distorted guitars, and tearful speeches, Yellowcard was ready to go out with a performance of "Ocean Avenue" that would give chills to any teenager of the 2000s. Everyone at House of Blues will remember the look in Key's eyes when he told them that this was goodbye, and then (for better or worse) there was officially one less violin in rock music.
For You, and Your Denial
Lights and Sounds
Shrink the World
Rest in Peace
Light Up the Sky
Rough Landing, Holly
Lift a Sail
A Place We Set Afire
With You Around
Cut Me, Mick
Hang You Up
Be the Young