After 15 years, pop-punk giants Yellowcard have finally landed on our sunny shores, bringing along a killer performance on Sep 15 at Hard Rock Hotel.

Wasting no time, the five-some from Jacksonville, Florida, established a strong rapport with the crowd with their heartfelt words of acknowledging Singapore as a place that “still plays Yellowcard on the radio”. Lead vocalist Ryan Key came across as anything but intimidating, showing no signs of typical celebrity snobbery.

Kick-starting the night with the hit opening song “Awakening” off the band’s new album Southern Air, the single paid homage to the band’s edgy and fast paced sound, while incorporating brighter vocals and casual, relaxed vibes.

With thousand-strong crowd already riled up and breaking out a sweat, the band progressed into equally high energy tracks like “Rough Landing, Holly” and “Breathing” from their older albums.

One of the only punk bands that consist of a violinist, Yellowcard’s very own Sean Mackin demonstrates how a violin isn’t limited to orchestras, and does so splendidly throughout their set. Any possible doubts about Yellowcard’s talent were dismissed when he showcased his incredible gift for the instrument and shone during his “For You and Your Denial” solo. Mackin’s ability to play the violin exactly like what you hear on the band’s albums drove everyone into a screaming frenzy.

“Shrink The World” had Key hitting all the impossibly high notes of “…if I could”, before he proceeded to cajoling the audience to form a circle pit for “Five Becomes Four”. This, however, quickly turned into a mosh pit and was swiftly broken up by the beefy bouncers. Josh Portman’s heavy bass notes were steady and resounded throughout the arena, delivering some sort of calm amid the euphoria.

Taking temporary respite from a high-energy set, the band left Key to commandeer the stage. Swapping his wailing electric guitar for a clean acoustic one, the talented vocalist urged the audience to sing along to an acoustic version of “Hang You Up”.

The musical prodigies also took some time to warmly thank the crowd for Southern Air’s popularity on our local airwaves before launching into “Always Summer”, another single off their latest album.

Key dedicated the next track, “Sing With Me”, to his Aunt Stephanie, his vocals laced with sadness. Slowly, the audience stopped cheering and couldn’t help but adopt a more sombre tone.

“Empty Apartment” was an evocative throwback to the past—a handful of fans were spotted close to tears as they swayed to “Call me out/ You stayed inside/ One you love/ Is where you hide”, filling the arena with a multitude of voices tinged with nostalgia.

After being serenaded by Key’s slow-moving and calming acoustic set, the guys switched back to their spunky selves with “With You Around”, in which Yellowcard’s drumming genius, Longineu W. Parsons III treated the audience to an impromptu and wild drum solo.

Mackin didn’t let the nature of his instrument mellow his on-stage persona, either; he did his signature back flip off the drummer’s platform, led by the cheering and howling of fans.

Then came crowd favorites “Way Away”, “Believe”, “Only One” and “Lights and Sounds”, complete with phenomenal guitar solos and looks of endearment tossed at fans. As the friendly lads exited the stage, repeated chants calling for an encore echoed throughout the venue. Upon the band’s re-entry, fans were exuberant and went wild.

“Here I Am Alive” showcased Yellowcard’s newer, more mature sound of less punk, and more commercial pop. Despite it being a relatively new song, long-time fans still crooned along accurately.

After “Light Up The Sky”, Key thanked their fans once more—“Nice work,” he raved, perspiration dripping off his forehead—and implored the crowd “to have as much fun as possible!” with their final song of the night, the favourite “Ocean Avenue”.

The crowd had no trouble expressing their love for this American outfit, too.

“Watching them perform their new songs live has certainly been a nostalgic journey [after] watching the band and their sound grow alongside myself,” said Samuel Ong, 20 year-old vocalist of local space rock band Giveth, who himself  has been jamming to Yellowcard’s hits since he was just 10 years old.

Despite Singapore’s crowds at gigs being typically stereotyped as being tame and lame compared to places like USA and Japan, the fans present at the show proved an exception with their tireless passion and irrepressible vigor for their favourite band.

In case you were at the concert and are eager to relive it in your bedroom, here’s the setlist to sing along to:

  1. Awakening
  2. Rough Landing, Holly
  3. Breathing
  4. For You, and Your Denial
  5. Shrink the World
  6. Five Becomes Four
  7. Hang You Up
  8. Always Summer
  9. Sing for Me
  10. Empty Apartment
  11. With You Around
  12. Way Away
  13. Believe
  14. Only One
  15. Lights and Sounds
16. Here I Am Alive
17. Light Up The Sky
18. Ocean Avenue
[All image credits to LAMC Productions]