I remember the day that I heard Ocean Avenue playing from my stereo. It was early 2004, I was on my bed reading one of my many magazine subscriptions, it made me yearn for the summer almost instantly. I begged my brother-in-law to work his piracy magic and soon, Ocean Avenue went everywhere with me in my portable CD player. It was only a matter of time that a cut out from a magazine was on my bedroom wall nestled among other bands. After all, I was only sixteen and a junior in high school, what else would you expect? The summer of 2004, a year after the release of the album, I proudly purchased it with my first check at a local record store that only exists in my memories, Penny Lane.
When Yellowcard had announced their retirement, memories of that summer in 2004 came flooding back – mainly being in my best friend’s truck blasting Ocean Avenue and singing at the top of our lungs – I knew that I had to be there. My appreciation for the band didn’t stop with that album, every new release got a listen, and got me through some tough times in my personal life – and because of that, I would get to see them for the first and the last time at the same time.
After arriving at The Marquee, I wouldn’t be fulfilling my duty as a Millennial if I didn’t announce across several social media platforms that I was there. Hesitantly, I decided that the merch line would be skipped, it wrapped around the foyer in a snake like formation. “I’ll come back…” I said, but I never did. With a trip to the bar, we patiently waited for the opener Sean O’Donnell to start his set – a set that deserves its own post due to this musician’s talent (and humor – if he ever decided to take up a career in stand up comedy, I’d be front and center for every show)! It seemed only fitting to have O’Donnell kick off this show, who once shared the stage with Yellowcard regularly as he was the band’s bassist from 2010-2012, only making things a more personal affair.
One minute I’m standing amongst a crowd of 20 somethings singing along to Blink 182, and the next minute, a voice is telling me that every song that I had the desire to film is already available online. Furthermore, the concert experience is greatly enhanced when the band could see my face instead of my phone…I wasn’t being told off or how to live my life, but I needed to put my phone down, put my hands up, and we were going to fucking rock.
As soon as the first note of Way Away played – every thought, every worry, every fear, melted away instantly and I was transcended back to my sixteen-year-old self where there wasn’t a care in the world and Yellowcard was everything.
The burst of energy from the crowd kicked the show off with such magnitude that Sean Mackin’s presence was larger than what The Marquee could hold. Over the next song, every reaction from the band, the crowd reacted to, it was absorbed and pushed right back to us tenfold. The first few personal thoughts from the band by way of Ryan Key was that they were glad they had canceled the original show back in October. As I would find out later, the show had sold out, and fans in attendance were spilling out into the foyer.
Between soaking in every chord of every song and how even now, over thirteen years later, lyrics were still relatable to my adult life, the interaction between us and the band, was so genuine. Every word spoken was so raw and personal – Ryan said he wanted us to dig deep into our souls. He also described the setlist as “fucking relentless” and he didn’t want us to have voices come morning. (Spoiler Alert: I didn’t).
The band wasn’t just there right in front of us to play their songs and to move onto the next city. With every chance, small anecdotes were shared, Ryan shared that his favorite album is Lift A Sail. With a minor setback of technical difficulties, because every perfect night has imperfections, Ryan spoke to the crowd, “You guys know what song we’re playing, and you’re requesting another song…this is our last show and we’re going to play what we want to.”
Songs played seamlessly together as if a mixtape had been made, the energy never tapered, and Sean O’Donnell joined the band on stage to sing a song he was involved in when he was in the band. “The guy with violin” as known to people not too familiar with the band was still bouncing around on stage continuously kept the crowd on their toes. Praises were given to Brunkvist from Sweden on the drums, Ryan [Mendez] and Josh were sincerely in their element, a small detail that couldn’t be left unsaid.
Reality forced its way back if only for a second when Ryan spoke to the crowd, he spoke about even though it had been nearly ten, to fifteen years later, some of us had found new interests, but here we were back together again. I knew that it was the beginning of the end. When the stage went dark, the emotions of the crowd poured out, we all knew what was going to happen next and it was something we all fought so hard to do, it was time to say our goodbye.
Thirteen years later, I was brought back to the moment where it all started…I was on the corner of Cherry Street, and I was letting the waves of Yellowcard crash down on me and let them take me away.
From singing along with the guy who stood by me the entirety of the show with no words said between us until that moment, we were immersed in such love and gratitude that words exchanged versus soaking in the moment were a mere after-thought, and I’ll never forget the feeling that I felt in those final minutes. As the music slowly played, the crowd chanted “Yellowcard” knowing that this was the last time we would ever get to see them, and we were ultimately getting our closure. They had taken their bows with such grace, they knew that they made the right decision, leaving us the best way possible…with the last sail lifted high, they were ready now.
Here’s to you, Yellowcard. You will be missed.
For You And Your Denial
Lights – Sounds
Shrink The World
Rest In Peace
Light Up The Sky
Rough Landing Holly
Life A Sail
A Space We Set Afire
With You Around
Cut Me Mick
Hang You Up
Be The Young
Words by Michelle Mungaray
Photos by Christina Ceballos