[17 November 2011]
PopMatters Events Editor
The prognosis for Tallahassee, FL, emo-pop rock band Mayday Parade wasn’t good following the release of 2009’s major label debut Anywhere But Here. Not only had the band lost their highly regarded vocalist and songwriter Jason Lancaster, but they were also getting their taste of major label politics. Outside songwriters, brought in by Atlantic Records to assist the band, along with some overly-glossy production from hit maker David Bendeth served only to suck the bite out of a band whose stellar 2007 outing A Lesson in Romantics quickly became regarded as one of the scene’s most impressive debut records. The rest of the story is a familiar one: band loses identity due to an un-needed change in sound, fans of band’s previous work lose interest, sales fail to meet major label’s expectations, band leaves label amid cloud of uncertainty.
Fortunately, this is far from the end of the story. Upon returning to the life of independent freedom, Mayday Parade entered the studio earlier this year with the same team that produced A Lesson in Romantics, choosing to once again write their own music and embrace the edgy sound that made the band so memorable in the first place. The resulting product was Mayday Parade, an astonishing return to form and quite possibly most fun you’ll have with the stereo on this year. The self titled record, released on October 4th, debuted at number 12 on the Billboard charts, selling close to 27,000 units in its first week, far surpassing the opening week of Anywhere But Here. (Who needs major labels?)
There for Tomorrow
Armed with an arsenal of new tracks and a renewed sense of passion, Mayday Parade hit the road this fall on ‘The Noise Tour powered by Journey’s’ alongside The Make, There for Tomorrow, You Me at Six, and We Are the In Crowd. Chico, California pop-rock act The Make kicked the night off in Indianapolis with a short set of songs from their recently released debut EP This Box before There for Tomorrow hit the stage. The alt-rock band from Orlando seems to have been on the tip of everyone’s tongue for the better part of three years but has yet to strike big. Fronted by lead vocalist Maika Haini Maile, There for Tomorrow’s set was short, but very sweet, featuring tracks from 2009’s A Little Faster as well as their recent release The Verge. With a killer live performance and a strong batch of radio ready tracks, it feels like only a matter of time before the band breaks through.
You Me at Six
Hailing from England, pop-punk band You Me at Six is a hidden treat in the Noise Tour lineup. Lead vocalist Josh Franceschi is as energetic of a frontman as any you’ll find, dancing across the stage and commanding the crowd to sing and jump along to every song. Taking advantage of every minute available to them, the band rolled through their set with purpose and ease, playing a few new tracks from their recently released album Sinners Never Sleep, which debuted at number three on the UK charts last month.
We are the In Crowd
We Are the In Crowd is a bit of a surprise as direct support for this tour. Last month, the young band released their debut record Best Intentions, an up and down ride through ten tracks of sugary pop-punk, emphasis on the “pop”. It’s hard not to make Paramore comparisons as frontwoman Tay Jardine leaves you with little choice. Her peppy vocals and bouncy demeanor are strikingly similar to Hayley Williams, but without the commanding confidence and stage presence. Nonetheless, the band put on a fun and energetic show and have plenty of promise.
As Mayday Parade lead vocalist Derek Sanders walks onto the stage singing the opening lines of their latest single “Oh Well, Oh Well”, while everyone in attendance sings along in unison, it’s a special moment—clear evidence of a return to form. Within seconds, the guitars hit, the lights go up, and everyone in the building is jumping up and down. Mayday Parade’s set is an extensive one, covering tracks from across their back catalogue while including plenty of new material in the form of songs like “When You See My Friends” and “No Heroes Allowed”. The welcome return of dual vocals to the band’s repertoire is just one of many reasons that their latest offering is a step forward, and while drummer Jake Bundrick is no Jason Lancaster, his live vocal performance is worthy of respect.
The only two songs on the setlist from Anywhere But Here are the title track and “Kids in Love”, which is just as well because there’s little room left after old favorites like “When I Get Home You’re So Dead”, “Jersey”, “Black Cat”, “Jamie All Over”, and “Walk on Water or Drown”. The band takes a break midway through the set while Sanders sits at a keyboard playing fan favorite “Miserable at Best”, nearly drowned out by the crowd’s singing. The band returns near the end of “Stay”, one of the softer tracks from Mayday Parade. For the night’s encore, the band surprisingly reaches all the way back to their first EP, Tales Told by Dead Friends to play “Three Cheers for Five Years” and “One Man Drinking Games”.
Perhaps the most notable detail about the night is how happy the band looked. Between putting out a new record that the band is actually proud of, finally being back out on the road, and the recent birth of Sanders’s first child, there’s plenty to smile about in the Mayday Parade camp. The band’s talent and resilience is evident, surviving the loss of a key member and weathering their major label disappointment, then responding with some of the best music the band has ever written. Mayday Parade is a celebration of that resilience, and their current trek on the Noise Tour is the perfect opportunity to experience it for yourself.