This is the story of my 11 or 12 year love -affair with Yellowcard:
Wednesday I went to see Yellowcard at Fillmore Silver Spring.
Yellowcard’s been one of my guilty pleasures – well, not even guilty, I guess, just pleasures – since I was in undergrad. I can’t fully remember how I got into them. I think it was back when you got put on e-mail lists of certain independent record companies for ordering a CD and they told you about similar artists coming out on their and sister labels. I was on a lot of punk e-mail lists and Yellowcard’s One For the Kids popped up at some point. I gave whatever sample I got a listen and fell in love. I think it was the amazing drumming (though not the drum-recording quality) and the violin (which was, at the time, a novelty in a rock or punk band, before Green Day dropped it in Time Of Your Life) that made me sit up and take notice. I read about Yellowcard, that they met up at a music and arts focused school, that Sean (the violinist) arranged and wrote the strings selections of their songs, that LP had jazz music running through his veins, that I understood why their music seemed to shine brighter than other bands.
I first went to see Yellowcard in…let’s see, I guess it was 2001 or 2. I was with my first real boyfriend and he drove us the 45 minutes into Cleveland to see YC along with No Use For A Name (RIP Tony Sly) at the (Beachland?) Ballroom. It had begun snowing that afternoon, but we went anyway. Man, it was a great show. Yellowcard was still touring in a shitty (literally) RV, it was cold as FUCK outside and snowing harder by the minute, YC closed with October Nights (to this day one of the best songs ever), and No Use opened (as Tony called “for what feels like the millionth time…”) with Feels Like Home into International You Day from the album Hard Rock Bottom. I remember rocking out and running around like a crazy person…no idea what became of the boyfriend during that time. Driving back home with him was treacherous, though, and slow going, with a few inches of snow on the surface roads and highway as the plows don’t come out till dark-early morning. We almost slid off the road down an embankment a couple times. Worth it.
At that time YC was telling the fans about their new EP, The Underdog EP. I got that record. I’m not sure if I got it from the show…no, it must have been later. It was a spring-into-summer sort of buy. I listened to that EP on repeat on my trip from Ohio to Wisconsin for my first job out of college in early 2003.
Next time I saw YC was at Warped Tour (or was it Summerfest? No, Warped Tour) in Milwaukee, WI. I got their album Ocean Avenue somewhere in there and was just … just blown the fuck away. It was like hook after hook after hook. If a band could make this record, why would any band make any other record ever?? It was a mix of Ryan Key’s (the singer) anthemic song-writing mixed with a producer who sprinkled honey, sunshine and glitter (or maybe just California, the feeling) on top of the studio mix, coupled also with amazing timing (just before everyone got tired of good music and started listening to screamo and Fallout Boy/Vampire Weekend). I think I ended up with two copies of Ocean Avenue, and had the boys all sign the coverlet of one. And I also have a signed coverlet of One For The Kids. No idea where either of those things are now, but probably in storage in California.
So I burned a hole in Ocean Avenue for, like, months. Somewhere in this time period, 2004 I think? This happened (I really don’t need to tell you where on my body this is):
Hm, when did I see YC again? Not for a while. Actually, I might have not seen them again until last Wednesday. Wow, ten years? Can’t be right! Well … they made another record, Lights and Sounds, I think, went on hiatus, returned with another record, When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes, put out another album I had literally never heard about till Wednesday called Southern Air, then put out an acoustic version of Ocean Avenue and went on this ten-year anniversary tour of Ocean Avenue this year … and yeah, I came out for that. I guess that’s it. Ten years. Wow.
YC was just as awesome ten years on as they were when I saw them last, and for this tour they played an acoustic version of the entirety of Ocean Avenue start to finish. Then they brought out their electric gear and melted faces. They even looked just the same, aside from Ben no longer being the lead guitarist, replaced by Ryan Mendez (a change I’ve long been used to) and the bass player, historically changeable for this band, was now called Josh and was an adorable piece of eye-candy. LP, the drummer, continued to be my favorite thing in this band, and possibly on earth. Sean did his patented back-flip from the drum stand/set speakers/stage/whatever’s around and elevated during the electric set.
They did not, to my chagrin, close with October Nights. In fact, One For the Kids material made no appearance in this set. No matter, though, they closed with the song Lights and Sounds with (an amazing drum-solo interlude by LP leading into) a reprisal of Ocean Avenue at the very end.
Man, watching a national act like this puts local bands in severe perspective. It’s like you can taste the music with a band like YC, and it’s sweet like youth. Watching them, I get why bands who start here move out west and to Brooklyn to test their chops and get better at their craft. Even YC moved from Florida to southern California to get their act right, and sweet lord has it paid off.
This was my first time at Fillmore Silver Spring. It’s about the size of the 9:30 Club, but newer-looking, with chandeliers, a fancy-looking bar upstairs, and the least-punk bathroom situation I’ve ever seen. The stalls are clean, fully-functioning and mostly graffiti- and sticker-free. WTF? It was welcome but…weird. The place is very convenient to me, as I live in Silver Spring already, so that got the venue a lot of points in my book. And booking one of my favorite bands? That got every point in my book.
Non-local, once-east-coast, now-west-coast punk music in an unexpected venue is what’s up for me. What’s up for you?