Tori Bilcik ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
If you could buy tickets to see an iconic pop-punk band twice for the price of once, would you? Of course you would, because who doesn’t love a double dose of fantastic live music? This is what the crowd of the nearly sold-out show experienced at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel in Providence, RI as Yellowcard took the stage twice for two full acoustic and electric sets.
Yellowcard’s history is difficult to follow, but essentially they’ve been around since the late 90s, have produced five albums and two acoustic re-releases, and have toured six continents since their conception. In 2008, the band took an “indefinite hiatus” but returned to the stage two years later with a stronger-than-ever sound. In 2013, they celebrated the 10th anniversary of their most successful album Ocean Avenue by re-releasing the album in acoustic form. The band then set out on the Ocean Avenue 10th Anniversary Acoustic Tour in the fall to play the new version of the album. Due to the tour’s overwhelmingly positive response, the band continued with a second round this winter.
When buying tickets to an acoustic show, it’s normal to expect a low-key performance, regardless of the venue size or the original versions of the songs, rather than moshing, crowd surfing, and incredibly high-energy performances. But Yellowcard’s show exhibited the latter.
The show didn’t begin with such high energy. The crowd was disappointingly dull during the set of the incredibly talented opening band, What’s Eating Gilbert. Front man Chad Gilbert, also of the veteran pop-punk band New Found Glory, even made it a point to mention that Providence had the “quietest crowd on tour.”
It’s important to note that the band normally plays a full electric set, but replaced their electric guitars with acoustics to better fit the mood of the tour, altering the sound and slowing the pace of their usual material. Despite the difference in sound and sluggish crowd, What’s Eating Gilbert gave an impressive performance. They played a set of 10 energetic power-pop/folk-ish songs alongside a wildly entertaining stage presence. Some of the best parts were their covers of “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss),” “Pretty Woman,” and a riveting speech about loving someone regardless of others’ opinions to preface their original song “I’ve Got You.” But by the end of their set, the crowd was visibly ready to see the set they’d all been waiting for.
As Yellowcard took the stage, the energy immediately picked up. The crowd sang along to every lyric to Ocean Avenue from the first line of “Way Away” to the last of “Back Home.” Crowds at Yellowcard concerts typically go insane from the moment they begin playing, but the mellow acoustic set tamed the crowd. Everyone seemed taken aback by the beautiful new arrangements of the songs they’ve known and loved for so long, and by the rawness and passion the band exemplified while performing. For the first six songs, the audience sang the lyrics back without much commotion. Once “Miles Apart” started, the crowd surfers went up, the circle pits formed, and chaos broke out as the Yellowcard fans we all know and love finally came to life. “Inside Out” had a similar impact, encouraging the crowd’s rowdiness.
One of the show’s highlights was a man proposing to his girlfriend during “One Year Six Months.” Applause erupted from the pit. Violinist Sean Mackin told the crowd how the fan came to him before the show to inform him of the plan, and how he got butterflies in anticipation while performing. As the first set came to a close, Yellowcard reminded the crowd of the second set, evoking the most excited response thus far.
After a 20-minute intermission, the band returned with their electric instruments. They took the opportunity to play more new material, focusing on the two albums released at the end of their hiatus, When You’re Through Thinking Say Yes and Southern Air. Some favorites were “For You And Your Denial,” “With You Around,” “Always Summer,” and “Surface of The Sun.” The crowd bounced enthusiastically throughout the set.
However, nothing trumps the crowd’s unanimous excitement during the final mash-up of two classics, “Lights and Sounds” and “Ocean Avenue.” The latter was also the only song to be played both acoustically and electrically. It was the perfect close to 10th anniversary celebration.
The intimacy between the fans and the band was the best part of the show. The acoustic set was a new experience for many audience members. The low-key environment immediately made the crowd seem closer to the band, as if everyone were old friends.
If you ever get the chance to see a band you love perform in such a unique and intimate way, don’t pass it up. It’s such a different experience than seeing an ordinary set, and it might even be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.