Yellowcard & New Found Glory - 10/8/15 at Livewire
By Spike Brendle
New venues are always a fun thing to experience. As a concert-goer, you hope for a big bar with cheap drinks and lots of servers, ample space for standing, multiple clean bathrooms, and a good spot to chill between sets. I had an idea of where it was, but it was the line that wrapped around the block that confirmed I was headed in the right direction. Livewire is located in Old Town Scottsdale, built right in the center of what almost looked like a Las Vegas entertainment zone, surrounded by lavish modern sports bars and night clubs. There was loud music pouring out from their patios, while golf carts cluttered the streets bringing the patrons to and from their destinations. Once inside, the venue was absolutely incredible. The stage is viewable from most areas; there are multiple floors for viewing, many bathroom options and two generously staffed bars.
As I walked in, Tiger’s Jaw were already on stage and preparing the crowd for a night of nostalgic pop punk. I ran up to the photo pit to try and get some shots, since I was unsure where in their set they were and the photo pit closes after the third song. The photo pit was packed with fellow photographers, and also about a quarter the size of a normal pit, with not much room to move around, and definitely not enough room to pass by anyone. I did my calibrations and headed to the back of the room to catch the remainder of their set. Tiger’s Jaw were super tight, and sounded just like I had imagined for the opening band of this tour. One thing I did enjoy is the keys player. She added a somewhat “indie” aspect to the band, as her sweet-sounding keys blended behind the typical pop punk power chords and the harmonies she was producing reminded me of something similar to Amy Millan of Stars and Broken Social Scene.
Since this is a co-headlining tour, I was curious who would be the headliner. As I learned later, there was a coin flip to see who would headline first, then the bands would flip-flop from there. I took a sneak peak at the setlist that was laid on stage, which read “Yellowcard” at the top. When they came out, they hit the stage with enough energy to power the venue themselves. One thing I do remember from my olden days of seeing Yellowcard is the violinist Sean Mackin running around the stage like a chicken with its head cut off throughout the entire set. (I also believe he even did a backflip off an amp at one point) Singles from their last three albums since Ocean Avenue provided the framework for "Way Away," "Only One," and of course the title track from said album, "Ocean Avenue." The rest of the band left the stage while Ryan Key sat at the piano and had a moment with the crowd. "This is my first time doing this in front of people. All you have to do is sing along," he said, then played a stripped down version of "Empty Apartment," which got a little emotional and slowed things down a bit. Of course they ended the set with "Ocean Avenue," which charged everyone right back up and you could barely hear Key's vocals over the crowd.
New Found Glory came out with the same amount of energy (if not a little more) as Yellowcard. This was probably an easier task for them since the lead singer Jordan Pundik wields only a microphone. During “Hit or Miss,” (which, to my surprise, was the third song in; that threw me for a loop) Pundik jumped onto the photo pit fence and sang the entire song with the crowd. He was everywhere and loving it and the crowd was eating it up. Sweaty, dance-ridden crowd surfers were pouring over the pit gate, and security really had their hands full. Being a new venue, this is probably the first show that they have hosted where they would have to deal with this. At about the mid-point in their set, they took a break to thank the crowd for supporting them over the past eighteen years they've been a band, "We are the luckiest band in the world." This led into the warning, "We haven't even played our fastest song yet. Do you have enough energy? VIP, you can’t even handle how fast this song is." After eighteen years, it's incredible to see them still move around the stage like they do, and they have long since perfected the "punk-jump" while playing guitar. Before their last song, Pundik requested that the "bearded wild guy" he spotted crowd surfing earlier get on stage with him, "These security guards aren't used to letting people on stage." So, for the beginning of "My Friend's Over You," Pundik and the "bearded wild guy" shared vocals as the crowd turned into a mad house: jumping, dancing, and singing along to every word. All of a sudden, a confetti cannon appears out of nowhere, and dumps millions of little white strips of paper into the air, causing more excitement. Being close to midnight on a Thursday, it was nuts to see everyone with so much energy, loving every second of the show.
Tonight was the first night of this co-headlining tour, which both Yellowcard and New Found Glory explained that this is also the first tour they have ever done together, besides Warped Tour. I found this hard to believe, but a "fun fact" none the less. I believe I had seen both bands (yes, separate shows) at the Nile Theater during my high school years, and I do still have the Midtown / A New Found Glory split EP from that first show, and this was before they removed "A" from their name, which should date that show pretty far back. There was lots of love expressed for Arizona, and even the bottle service that Old Town is probably required to offer in every club. "I hope we get to play more shows with bottle service, that’s how you do it," Josh Portman, bassist of Yellowcard had mentioned during their set. We apparently set the bar high for them, and they will be back for more Arizona love as soon as they can!