In the words of Derek Sanders, emo music is alive and well in the year 2023 and all our favorite bands pulled together an epic lineup on Saturday night. Yellowcard’s reunion tour turned Ocean Avenue anniversary sold out Arizona Financial Theatre, filling Phoenix with nostalgia alongside a peek into the future.
Anberlin started things off with a wash of red haze and a setlist perfectly curated for the energy of the evening. The crowd warmed up with “Godspeed” and “Lacerate” as the band paced the edge of the stage to rile up the room. The closer of “Feel Good Drag” took everyone right back to 2005- the perfect opener for the rest of the lineup.
Florida natives Mayday Parade have also been on this touring circuit for decades now and provided the direct support for their old friends in Yellowcard. Singer Derek Sanders emerged under a spotlight to the first notes of “Oh Well, Oh Well” before the full band kicked in with their wall of sound. Sanders whipped his hair, guitarists Brooks Betts and Alex Garcia tossed their guitars and the audience responded to this display by nearly drowning them out with their own singing.
Like Yellowcard, Mayday Parade has toured extensively on their past work, but recently released new music to debut on this tour. It was the classics, however, that got the people up off their feet- the band knows their audience very well and made sure to close out their sprint of a set with “Jersey” and “Jamie All Over”. We’ve heard the songs a million times but they truly never get old.
It’s been a long six years since Yellowcard played what they thought would be their final show, but the band took the stage like no time had passed. From their triumphant return at Riot Fest in 2022, this tour was the beginning of a victory lap and what can safely be called an official return to the scene. Arizona welcomed them with open arms as they brought us right back to that place off Ocean Avenue with “Way Away” and “Breathing”.
This tour is the commemoration of 20 years of the iconic Ocean Avenue album, but the band drew from every section of their catalog, pulling out some deep cuts and fan favorites like “One Year, Six Months” and “Fighting”. Alongside Mayday Parade, Yellowcard also released new music this year, debuting “Childhood Eyes” from their first endeavor back as a band.
Singer Ryan Key took several opportunities between songs to express his gratitude for his bandmates, the fans and everyone who allowed the band to reunite with such success. Arizona Financial Theatre was awash in colorful lights, familiar sounds and a wave of thankful emotions- especially for everyone seeing Yellowcard for the first time that night.
The band took us “Back Home” before returning to the stage for an epic encore that included a rafter-raising sing-along to “Only One” before burning the place down to the title track “Ocean Avenue”.
Key dropped a not so secret tidbit that the band is already planning for 2024 and beyond, drawing huge cheers from a fanbase that’s thrilled to have them back. We’ll get the stage ready for their return and keep them in the big venues they’ve humbly requested we not take away- the next tour will be a look into the future for our throwback favorites.
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Story and photos by Olivia Khiel