Fans of safe and sentimental melodic pop-rock were treated to the best of both worlds Thursday, when Something Corporate and Yellowcard hit the Roseland Ballroom stage near the end of their six-week co-headlining tour. Where Something Corporate mostly played amidst an air of soul-baring and introspection, Yellowcard’s cheer and bravado helped dissipate any gray clouds that may have hovered overhead.
With three flags marked by upside-down hearts hanging from the rafters and spotlights almost always fixed on Andrew McMahon’s upright piano at center stage, Something Corporate’s set alternated between songs about being in and out of love from their 2002 debut, Leaving Through the Window, a pair of EPs and their latest album, North.
Far from wallowing in the sorrow of breakup songs, the fans merrily shared their misery, making the band’s cover of the Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony,” which featured a guest appearance by Yellowcard violinist Sean Mackin, an especially poignant sing-along.
The mostly female crowd stayed cued up for Something Corporate’s hit single “Space,” which bled into its follow-up, “Ruthless.” The outnumbered male members of the audience held onto their honeys just a little tighter (an attempt at self-preservation?) as the lights dimmed for the chugging post-dumped realization “Only Ashes”; while the hard-core fans showed their colors by joining McMahon on the over-10-minute rarity “Konstantine.”
“I don’t give a sh- if you download any damn song,” McMahon said of the longtime live staple that only made it onto a Japanese import last year. For the past three years the band has built its reputation on a nearly nonstop touring schedule made possible by its loyal fanbase. “Who cares about record sales anyway?”
It wasn’t all bummers, however. Bassist Clutch wore a pirate outfit for no apparent reason other than it matched the Jolly Roger flag draped on his amp. “Drunk Girl,” for “all the drunk people out there,” also added a bit of levity that escalated to fist-pumping cheers for the young-adult anthem “21 and Invincible.” And what was even more surprising than McMahon jumping on his piano keys was the remarkable tunefulness he displayed while doing it.
The set’s penultimate song, a cover of Outkast’s “Hey Ya!,” really showed how jocular the quintet could be. Following the male crowd members’ response of “ice cold” to McMahon’s query of “What’s cooler than cool?,” the shaggy-haired frontman posed the question to the ladies before taking a grand leap from atop his upright to end the song.
“We know this is cheesy,” McMahon said near the end of the tune, “but we’re having fun doing it.”
Props to Yellowcard for keeping the excitement high with a minimal lag between sets. While some of the Floridians’ fare can be as anguished as their tourmates’, Yellowcard’s onstage energy prevented the set from being mired in misery. Violinist Mackin was unable to stay still for more than a few seconds, sprinting to and fro about the stage while doing a fleet-footed jig to accompany his furious fiddling, and guitarist Ben Harper and bassist Alex Lewis took turns launching themselves off their Marshall stacks.
Toward the end of their set, Mackin kicked off a cover of Nirvana’s “Dumb” by sawing off some chords that seemed to ring truer in the ears of the parents in attendance. Singer Key, stripped of his guitar, stood center stage with hands in pockets and crooned the tune amidst a dull hum of voices and a sea of cell phones held aloft.
Compared with Something Corporate’s sparse inverted-heart splattered backdrop, Yellowcard’s brightly colored airbrushed palm trees resembled souvenir T-shirts from a boardwalk vendor. But that’s Yellowcard’s hometown of Jacksonville Beach, Florida, at least the perception that can be garnered from the songs that comprise Yellowcard’s latest album, especially its hit-single title track, which singer/guitarist Ryan Key introduced with memories of typical Thursday nights spent drinking Milwaukee’s Best on the beach beside a bonfire.
Judging from Yellowcard’s songs like “Miles Apart,” “Believe” and “Life of a Salesman,” even the most shattered of hearts can be mended with good friends, family and, of course, a shot of raucous rock and roll.
The Something Corporate/ Yellowcard tour ends Sunday, after which Something Corporate will go it alone through mid-May, while Yellowcard prepare to set out on the Vans Warped Tour June 25.