Treaty of Paris, The Spill Canvas, PlayRadioPlay, Secondhand Serenade
Philadelphia, PA • March 17, 2008
It was St. Patrick’s Day and yet every last inch of the Trocadero was jammed with fans bursting with excitement. Yellowcard was in town and though it had been a while since the band had last visited Philly, I was shocked that the tour sold out, considering it was all acoustic. However, the fans didn’t care; all that mattered was that the band was there and would be playing some of their favorite tracks.
There were four supporting bands, three of which had been in the area not too long ago on one tour. First up was Treaty of Paris. The Chicago band played six tracks off of their debut CD, Sweet Dreams Sucker. Lead singer, Mike Chorvat, was charismatic as he sang to the crowd. The vocalist for the powerpop band was celebrating his birthday that day, as was a crowd member up front. After some teasing dialog with the other birthday person, the band finished up their six-song set with “Here Goes Nothing.” If the crowd’s reaction to their performance was any indication of the rest of the show, then it was going to be a St. Patrick’s Day concert to remember.
PlayRadioPlay, a one-man band from Texas, followed suit. Dan Hunter, vocalist and guitarist, was supported by two musicians. The set started off stronger with a more powerpop-infused sound, but the vocals were a bit too low and somewhat lost among the instruments. Despite a short technical issue, Hunter continued on, tapping one white sneaker-wearing foot behind his leg to the beat. The highlight was when Hunter pulled out an acoustic guitar, lending a soothing and serene feel. Yet, some of the crowd in the balcony found it more of an opportunity to chat with their friends, which can always ruin a show for anyone who’s trying to pay attention. While I’m still not completely won over by PlayRadioPlay’s performances, this one was better tenfold.
Secondhand Serenade, another one-man band, was next. Seriously, what is this trend of being a one-person band and then having to come up with a name? Why can’t people just use their real names? Most of all, when is this trend going to be over? Ranting aside, the California musician played a decent set, including songs off of his latest release, A Twist in My Story. While most of the songs were just a little too unmemorable, one did slightly remind me of a Dashboard Confessional track. Either way, the younger crowd disagreed with me, screeching and screaming as the vocalist’s raspy voice filled the venue.
The Spill Canvas followed. By this point, I was slightly agitated. With the exception of Secondhand Serenade, every band had been here on the same bill only a few months ago. Talk about a bad case of déjà vu. Though the music was still a bit too sweet of a pop-rock for my liking, I’ll be the first to give props to this band, as they have a great following in the area. What stands out the most are the bits of commentary in-between songs from vocalist, Nick Thomas. For the second time in months, Thomas took a break from the music for a few moments and spoke from his heart about the fans’ love for music and their appreciation of everyone in attendance.
Finally, it was time for Yellowcard. As the set-up began, people refilled their drinks and waited in anticipation. As it was an acoustic show, the set-up took about 15 minutes…to bring out a table, an acoustic guitar, and a large number of water bottles as a red carpet was spread on the stage. Finally, vocalist Ryan Key came out alone and began to play. During the songs, however, there were some technical issues with the microphone, causing Key to stop every once and a while, as the mic was adjusted by the sound crew. After a few songs, he was joined by Sean Mackin (violin) and Ryan Mendez (guitar). Mackin was a hit unto himself; his violin playing is what I can only describe as tragically beautiful. At times, it seemed he received more reaction that the lead singer himself.
While it was an acoustic tour, there was no limitation on what songs would and would not be played. Sampling from their previous albums as well as their latest release, Paper Walls, the crowd joined in on every song, with each being welcomed as if a long-lost friend. Key’s vocals were flawless as he belted out lyrics and moved around the stage. At one point, he announced, “You remember that album, Ocean Avenue?” The audience reached a new level of intensity, as Key quickly followed with, “This one isn’t from Ocean Avenue.” The banter that followed between Mackin and Key was priceless, keeping the audience distracted from the various microphone technical difficulties that occurred. Honestly, the fans didn’t mind. After all, it was a holiday and they were with their friends, with a band that they obviously adored.
After about an hour and a half, the band returned for a quick encore, featuring what was probably one of the most recognized tracks of the night – “Only One.” Fans scrambled for cell phones as they screamed every word back to the band. It was nice to see that without the fancy stage set-ups and a more low-key sound, this band could still receive a great response from the Philly crowd.