Yellowcard go acoustic at the Middle East

A review of Yellowcard at the Middle East Downstairs on March 16, 2008

, Contributing Writer

Punk-pop quintet Yellowcard hit Boston on Sunday night to promote their newest release, Live from Las Vegas at the Palms. Thanks to Yellowcard\’s successful indie releases and cult fan base they played to a nearly full Middle East, an impressive feat on Saint Patrick\’s Day parade day. The nearly 90 minute set catered to the mixed crowd by including several tracks off of Paper Walls as well as older hits from albums such as Lights and Sounds and One for the Kids.&

In a departure from their normal concert experience Yellowcard played acoustically, capitalizing on the brief absence of drummer Longineu W. Parsons, who is taking some time off to be with his family.& The line-up featured Ryan Key on lead vocals and guitar, Sean Mackin on violin, Ryan Mendez on lead guitar, and Peter Jacobsen on cello.

The show opened with Key alone on stage singing "Rough Draft" before being joined by the rest of the band. Unfortunately, it took the young audience a few minutes to settle down and the softer moments of the opening were lost amidst crowd noise. Making the most of the situation, Key took a minute to introduce members of the band and encouraged the audience to sing along whenever they wanted.&

The second song, "Fighting", received a huge response from the crowd and Key\’s suggestion that the audience sing the background vocals got everyone focused. From there the band moved on to "View from Heaven", which featured several strong, upbeat violin solos from Mackin. For an acoustic set, Yellowcard was able to keep their energy high and the crowd engaged. Key and Mackin took time between songs to banter with the audience and display their average-Joe style of self-deprecating humor.

In a very honest moment of reflection before "Lights and Sounds", Key apologized to the audience for "losing sight of what was important" after the success of their Ocean Avenue album.& The apology appeared to be unnecessary as the audience was not holding anything against them.& The crowd singing got louder and louder, especially during the following song "Way Away", one of the biggest commercial successes Yellowcard has enjoyed.&

While the acoustic theme of the night removed some of the differentiating qualities from the songs and many of the instrumental lead-ins sounded similar, the strong Boston fan base didn\’t seem to mind as they danced and sang along. Yellowcard played off the energy of the audience during "Believe" and allowed the crowd to sing the chorus with no vocal accompaniment. Before ending the song Yellowcard reclaimed the stage and showcased their skills in an instrumental crescendo.

Moving on to new material Yellowcard played "Keeper" from the Paper Walls album which sounded just like the album cut even without the drumming of Parsons.& Key then let the audience in on "a little secret" about the inspiration for "Light Up The Sky", which he claims is a song about "falling for a celebrity that was too famous" to be interested in him. The band then switched gears and featured their softer, more melodic style while performing "Dear Bobbie", a love song written by Key about his grandparent\’s relationship.& Keeping with the quieter tone, Yellowcard played "Cigarette", dedicated it "to all the ladies" before switching gears once again.& The audience was back to full energy, singing along to "Sureshot" and "Avondale" at the end of the set.

If the enthusiasm and sincere appreciation from the audience were any indication, Yellowcard can be added to the short list of pop-punk bands that continue to get stronger as they mature and evolve. At the very least, they are one of the few brave enough to take on an acoustic tour, and one of the few talented enough to make it work

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