Yellowcard and Sean O’Donnell at The Observatory Santa Ana

Yellowcard
Sean O’ Donnell
Date: March 17, 2017
Location:
The Observatory Santa Ana

yellow

Story
Watching Yellowcard for the final time during St. Patrick’s Day turned out to be a nostalgic blast. There were bittersweet moments as this concert proved to be the final time I witnessed this band live together. On the other hand, I had the proper chance to bid farewell that filled me with closure. This concert happened to mark the beginning of the bands final week together as their concluding show would be next Saturday at the recently open House of Blues, Anaheim. As their fleeting time draws to an end, the band decided to go out with a bang to their loyal fans that have been with them throughout their 20 year existence together. They altered their setlist for these final seven concerts which they debuted that night. Each song on the new setlist severed a purpose of flooding fans with nostalgia or having the band say goodbye through their songs.

The opening act this time around turned out to be Sean O’Donnell a former member of Yellowcard. O’Donnell joined the band back in April 2010 however left the band in 2012 after roughly a year and half together with Yellowcard. Afterwards he transitioned to become a solo artist which he released two albums. He returned nevertheless to help the band close out their final week. Through the night he proved to be quite the entertaining performer. His humorous personality won the crowd over as laughter filled the air with each joke he told. The most memorable one being about how he’d gladly take being the fifth favorite Sean of everyone in the room; at least he placed in the top 5. His style of music meshed well with Yellowcards pop punk/alternative sound. The relatable lyrics pair with his soothing voice left a memorable mark. The simplicity of the performance is what I enjoyed the most about his performance. He was a one man band as only he and his guitar played for most of the duration of the performance. An exception occurred during the final song in which his old friend Ryan Key joined him on stage.  The unexpected appearance of Key blew the audience away as these two men sang in harmony.

Right before Yellowcard made their grand appearance an announcement played overheard. The announcement mentioned that this night would be an enjoyable experience for all especially if people were not recording the show. It continued to state that video performances of all the songs could be found online. The band actually wants to see the faces of crowd, not see a sea of cellphone faces. Lastly, the announcement mentioned “if you’re recording the band and not living in the moment, then you’re fucking it up.” To my complete shock mostly everyone in the room heeded to the announcement’s message. Once the band arrived on stage only one person, that I noticed, took out their phone to record. Truth be told, I did heed to the announcement as I reflect back on it. I did not take as many photos as I have in the past whenever I go to the concert. The reason being was due to my willingness to be constantly in the moment as the band gave the audience a proper sendoff.

The band started their setlist with the first single from their breakthrough album Ocean Avenue Way Away. The meaning behind the song is the band’s journey from Florida to California as they dreamed of making it in the music industry. Orange County has a special meaning to the band as they moved to this area which also happened to be where they had their first sold out show at the Chain Reaction. Key touched upon this later in the night as he spoke about their humble beginnings and the gratitude of succeeding in California. The greatest hits played that night brought back nostalgic memories. Lights and Sounds and Rough Landing, Holly were some of the memorable performances for me that night due to the memories attached to these songs. I distinctly remember back in 2006 when these songs were first released and how much I loved the former song. These two songs played regularly on MTV and VH1 back when they actually showed music. Lights and Sounds became the first Yellowcard album that I brought that further fueled my love for this band. Before this I became exposed to rock music in the mid 2000’s with Ocean Avenue being one of the first rock songs that exposed me to the genre. After Lights and Sounds the band flew under my radar as I became exposed to new artists and bands. I noticed that they would perform at concerts here and there in Southern California with most of their shows sold out. Once they embarked on their final world tour I could not let this opportunity slip away. Through these two Yellowcard concerts I became exposed to music that I had not previously listened before.

The band did not disappoint that night as they exceeded the audience expectations. All the members wore black – fitting as this marked the “death” of the band per say. However make no mistake as these concerts marked a time of celebration. Bass guitarist Josh Portman ripped through his guitar with tremendous energy to the applause of the crowd. His talent shined through as he profoundly moved wildly on stage. Front and center Ryan Key kept the energy moving with his infectious singing. All through the night Key kept mentioning how people were going to leave the venue barely able to speak. Based on all the fan screaming through the night, would not be surprised if that rang true for a few die hard fans. His speeches were moving, but more on those later. Something I failed to notice the first time around were the antics between Violist Sean Mackin and lead guitarist Ryan Mendez. Bantering between among themselves, they would play jokes with each other. Filling in for drums was Like Torches Jimmy Brunkvist who kept the beat and kept it strong.

As the band dove into their farewell songs Key stated his favorite album they recorded was Lift a Sail. These random tidbits of information are what I love listening as one gets to know the band a bit better. “If this was the last time that we would ever speak / Could we forgive somehow, could we let it rest in peace?” These lyrics summed up the mood of the night as well as this final week for the band. To the surprise of the audience Sean O’Donnell returned on stage to provide vocals for Hang You Up. His brief appearance to sing the chorus alongside Key amplified the experience of the performance. Soon the moment had come as the band were set to play the final song. Key took the time to address the audience to give their thanks for the audience being out there tonight. The band made the dificult decision two years prior of going their separate ways. However, they decided to embark on a world tour in order to give their fans a proper send off. As he finished giving the audience their humble gratitude they launched into Ocean Avenue. This turned out to be the perfect send off by seeing them play their biggest hit last. This is my last memory of the band of them playing the song that introduced me to them. I could not have asked for a better send off. Goodbye Yellowcard, this fan will miss you but will have your music to remember you by.

Yellowcard Setlist
1. Way Away
2. For You, and Your Denial
3. Lights and Sounds
4. Shrink the World
5. Rest in Piece
6. What Appears
7. Light Up the Sky
8. Rough Landing, Holly
9. Awakening
10. Illuminate
11. Lift a Sail
12. A Place We Set Afire
13. With You Around
14. Rivertown Blues
15. Cut Me, Mick
16. Believe
17. Hang You Up (Sean O’Donnell)
18. Empty Apartment
19. Be the Young
20. Southern Air
21. Back Home

Encore
22. Breathing
23. Only One
24. Ocean Avenue

Trivial Notes

  • 13th concert at The Observatory Santa Ana.
  • 2nd and final time seeing Yellowcard.
  • Josh Portman’s official Instagram liked all 6 photos of the concert I posted.
  • Jimmy Brunkvist’s official Instagram liked all 6 photos of the concert I posted.
  • Sean O’Donnell’s official Instagram liked the photo I tagged him in.
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