When the tour was first announced it seemed a bit strange, Yellowcard and Memphis May Fire touring together; the two are quiet different as far as genre and fanbases go. Both do have great stage presence and put on fantastic sets but still, that does not usually make a tour package. The opener, Emarosa, could fit on a tour package with either band sound wise and certainly holds their own with stage presence and the ability to command a stage and crowd. When the tour came to Starland Ballroom in Sayerville, NJ on Halloween it became clear to fans of all three groups that the tour package was certainly a fantastic idea and a very successful show.
Emarosa is a band that has faced a great deal of changes throughout 2014. They played their first shows with Bradley Walden, new lead singer of the group, on the Devils Dance Tour back in April of this year. Having one tour under their belt they embarked on this tour with a brand new record, Versus to promote and a slew of potential new fans to impress each night. They kicked off their set with the first song from their record, “People Like Me, We Just Don’t Play” and “Mad” from later in the album. When they took the stage they had fully embraced the Halloween spirit and dressed up as zombies together showing the unity and cohesion that has developed in the band. They also played, “Set it Off like Napalm”, which was the only song on the setlist not from Versus. Emarosa also played “I’ll Just Wait” which currently has a music video out that really showcases the emotion behind the song. The emotion and passion that are evident in the video are even more noticeable during a live performance. Emarosa is a band that has grown exponentially over the past year; it is so clear each time they take the stage that their confidence and command of the stage and crowd is a major aspect of this growth. Frontman Bradley Walden has always been one to use the entire stage and interact with the crowd from the start of the Devil’s Dance Tour, but by the end he was truly engaging the crowd in music that was not entirely his own. Now that the music is that of the current band, that they all connect and relate to, Emarosa can really draw in a crowd and captivate an audience regardless of their familiarity with the new record. Emarosa put on the best set I’ve seen from them yet at Starland Ballroom with a phenomenal live energy and great introduction to the new record. Fans were engaged even if they did not know the music because of the onstage antics, including Walden jumping up and over the drum kit while drummer Will Sowers continued on like someone didn’t just go over his head. They closed out the set with “1996 on Bevard” leaving the crowd excited and amped for the next two acts! Keep an eye out for what’s next for Emarosa, they are a band that truly stuns fans with how much better they get each time; it will be so exciting to see where they go from here!
Memphis May Fire took the stage next to an amped up crowd ready to continue their night. They too took the stage in full Halloween spirit with each member having their own unique costume from a flag morph suit for drummer Jake Garland to the full pirate costume sported by frontman Matty Mullins. They opened their set with “No Ordinary Love”, the first single off of their most recent record, Unconditional, which got fans into the set from the first note. The majority of their set consisted of songs from Unconditional and their previous album Challenger. They played the extremely meaningful and heartfelt song, “Underneath the Skin” off of Unconditional, which really seems to resonate with fans in both live performances and on the record. The song tackles the hardships many fans struggle with and the importance of seeing passed what’s on the surface to what is underneath which is an extremely powerful and important message to all. Among the songs played from Challenger were fan favorites “Alive in the Lights” and the closing song “Legacy”. “Legacy” too has an extremely powerful and important message about striving for greatness that seems to inspire and drive many to pursue their passions. Memphis May Fire has quite an interesting onstage personality that really helps to bring the music to life when they take the stage. At one point during the night the screen came down between songs and blocked the stage. The whole thing turned into a big joke that had the band and fans laughing while it was being fixed as the band continued to talk to fans and even peeked out from behind the screen to interact and joke around. When the screen was lifted and the show continued fans were drawn into the set once again. By the time Memphis May Fire played “Legacy” fans were more than ready to get into the song and even more excited to see what Yellowcard had in store for them.
Yellowcard is a band that has been around for well over 10 year, has toured the world, and still continues to make great music and build their fanbase. It is no wonder that they have remained relevant and fan favorites for so long after seeing the way they take the stage and perform as if no time has passed each time they take the stage. They are incredibly animated and excited every time they preform and even after all of this time violinist Sean Mackin still throws his traditional backflip with as much style as ever. He did so that night at the start of “Crash the Gates” off of their new record Lift a Sail. A great deal of their setlist featured songs from Lift a Sail including fan favorites “Transmission Home”, “Illuminate”, and the extremely emotional “One Bedroom”. “One Bedroom” slowed things down a great deal as lead singer Ryan Key explained it was written for his wife who is a professional snowboarder and broke her back last year in a tragic accident during a practice run. The group also played staple Yellowcard songs such as “Only One” and “Lights and Sounds”. Later in the set an unexpected break was taken. Violinist Sean Mackin stopped between songs to address the audience, more specifically a certain guy that he had seen inappropriately “help” a crowd surfer along. Mackin, very disappointed in the inappropriate behavior, stopped to call out the fan and express his disdain which quite refreshing to see. Key chimed in as well to express his disappointment in the behavior as well. It speaks volumes about the character of the people on stage to not only notice what is going on in the crowd but to stop and address it. The show continued on smoothly after that with Matty Mullins coming out a few songs later to help out for the song “The Deepest Well” which really seemed to get the crowd excited. Not only are two very unlikely bands touring together but they also have a song collaborating with one another. Yellowcard played two additional staple songs “Way Away” and of course, “Ocean Avenue”. Prior to playing “Ocean Avenue” Key explained to the crowd that there were two more songs; they played “Ocean Avenue” then they were closing with “California” which took many by surprise.
What was viewed as an unlikely tour package turned out to be one of the most exciting and high energy shows of the year. Starland Ballroom is known for drawing a fantastic crowd all of the time, and despite it being Halloween this show was no different. Fans were treated to a night they certainly won’t forget. Three great bands demonstrated that passion for music and a great live energy can bring fans together from different genres to enjoy a show and sets by bands they would not typically see with this tour. Be sure to keep an eye out for what each band has coming in the future and catch the few remaining dates of this tour when it hits your city!