For many fans of music when you hear that a band is calling it a day it is a major shock. When Yellowcard finally made that announcement, this was true but also nothing we hadn’t some what heard before. In 2008 the band announced an indefinite hiatus which left many fans wondering if they would ever come back. Fortunately for all of us it wasn’t long after that the band got back together in 2010 and haven’t stopped since.
This time though it seems that all four members Ryan Key, Sean Mackin, Ryan Mendez and Josh Portman are well and truely calling it a day. But not before they go out with a massive bang, or in this instance a tour to end all tours. Starting in the USA in October 2016, continuing onto the UK in December, Asia, Australia and Japan in February 2017. With the band playing their final seven shows in the USA in March 2017.
For me Yellowcard came into my life when I was 14, I remember the first time I saw the ‘Ocean Avenue’ video on Channel V (Australian music video channel) in 2004. I absolutely stopped in my tracks, I was super impressed by the violinist, the high energy of the song and how much I could relate to the lyrics! Back then I was living in a small country town I had no access to music so the only way I could listen to this incredible song was to wait for it to come back on Channel V. It wasn’t until the internet started booming and I learnt about downloading illegally that I actually “owned” ‘Ocean Avenue” as well a few other songs off the album of the same name. When I was 18 I finally owed my own copy of Yellowcard’s albums and this was due to the fact that I had finally graduated high school and moved to the city! By then ‘Lights and Sounds’ and ‘Paper Walls’ where both out so I became obsessed with them as well.
This then brings me to the first time I saw Yellowcard live, like many of us I still remember the night and every night of seeing them live after that. It was September 18, 2012 I went with my cousin, who was equally in love with Yellowcard as me due to me passing on their music to her. We lined up for hours outside The Tivoli to get a spot on the barrier and luckily we where located right in front of Sean. Now being my first time seeing Yellowcard I didn’t know what to expect, I danced and sang my 22 year old heart out like I was 14 (honestly anyone who has seen me at a Yellowcard concert this year knows I still do this). So the moment Sean came to the front of the stage and put is hand out to hold mine I was shocked and excited, I felt like the most special person in the room. I later found out that he does this at most shows, but thats what makes it special that he takes the time while on stage to pay attention to the crowd.
My next encounter with Yellowcard was October 25, 2013 for their ‘Ocean Avenue’ Acoustic Tour. Once again I lined up early, this time with my brother. We were front and centre and it was another incredible night not only did I get to hear my favourite album in its entirety but they then played it acoustic which made it even more amazing!
Now the last time I saw Yellowcard before they announced the final tour was on November 20, 2015. This time I decided to do something a little differently and flew over to Los Angeles for not only the YC and New Found Glory tour but also to meet and greet them. What a night it was I was insanely nervous and stumbled on my words when I got to meet them. The cool part though was that a few of the members of both bands commented on liking my hair (it was purple and orange at the time). So I left that night so happy and excited and couldn’t believe I got to have that experience.
This brings us to the last time I saw Yellowcard live, well what I thought would be the last time I would see them. On February 18, 2017 I headed to The Triffid in Brisbane to photograph the show, it was hot and sweaty inside and out. I got some awesome shots and then stood at the back of the venue to enjoy the rest of the show (the first time I had stood so far away from them). The next morning I headed to the airport to fly to Sydney, the cool thing was that most of the band where on the same flight. So when I departed the planes and went to collect my baggage a few of the guys where there and I even had a small chat with Josh. That night I headed to Metro Theatre and heard ‘Ocean Avenue’ played in full which felt really special. Then back on a plane the next morning to Adelaide to see them one last time at The Gov. To be honest this was one of my favourite shows, it was a smaller venue but still packed and the crowd was just so energetic. I was in the front row to the right side and had the most amazing time. This time I was a 26 year old dancing and singing like I was 14 again, I am definitely not embarrassed to admit that at all! The night ended and as I was walking back to my Airbnb I just could not fathom that, that was the last time I will ever see Yellowcard. So I did what any normal person would do and looked up what shows the band still had and what flights I could take to get me there.
Next thing I knew it was three weeks later and I was hoping on a plane to Los Angeles not only to see Yellowcard in Santa Ana, San Diego and LA but also to photograph each show! To say I was totally cool with this happening was an overstatement, I was quite nervous as I knew how much these photos would mean to me so I wanted to get them just right. It’s also very nerve racking photographing in a venue you’ve never been to as you don’t know what the photo pit, the stage or the lighting is like. Now that I am back home I can reflect back on my time and say that those three nights where some of the most amazing times I have ever had not only photographing but at any concert. I met some really awesome people who I would not have crossed paths with if I wasn’t in California. I challenged myself to be more creative with my photos and really look at what is happening on the stage, instead of just clicking away. Lastly I made sure that I wasn’t photographing all night trying to get every shot, I would put my camera away and just enjoy the night. Boy did I enjoy myself, this time after just celebrating my birthday one week prior, I was a 27 year old dancing and singing like I was 14 and I could not have been happier!
Now I know there are more hardcore fans out there, there are people who have been to every single show on a tour and who have lined up for hours even the night before. So I would never say I am Yellowcard’s biggest fan but I do love them and I am so thankful that they continued as a band and didn’t make that a definitive hiatus. I own a whole lot of YC merchandise from all their albums on vinyl and CD. To numerous band shirts, jumpers, posters and now photo’s as well. Lastly I also have their logo, ‘Ocean Avenue’ lyrics and ‘Lift A Sail’ album artwork tattooed on my arm. So they defiantly mean a lot to me and their music has helped me through some tough times, I’m sure there are many of you out there that can say the same.
So to Yellowcard, I would just like to say Thank you. To every band member who has put blood, sweat and tears into the music and the tours. No matter when you were a part of the band you helped create something beautiful that has changed so many peoples lives. As someone who sees so much live music and listens to so much music, I believe that Yellowcard and one of the best bands I have seen live. You create an experience for the audience that they will never forget, you interact with them and make them feel like they are on that stage with you. You appreciate every single person who has purchased an album, a concert ticket, a t-shirt and you make sure they know it. Through acknowledging them at a show (thank you Sean) or on Twitter or Instagram we feel connected and that is why it is so hard to say goodbye. For me so much I had to fly across the world. But as long as you had the opportunity to say good bye that is all that matters. As Ryan says at every show there are bands that you love that just float off and disappear, but they didn’t want to be one of those bands. So a thousand times thank you for creating something beautiful for us all to share and to continue to share with the people around us and for generations to come.
It is bitter sweet but for the last time, RIP Yellowcard.
For photos of Yellowcard click the RIP Yellowcard 1997-2017 tab at the top.