October 31, 2014
Wednesday night was a night for rock and roll at Amos’ Southend. Emarosa, Memphis May Fire and Yellowcard each reign from musical genres far enough apart that this tour is an unexpected one. But they made it mesh seamlessly.
The first band of the night was Emarosa. The Kentucky-based quartet consists of Bradley Walden (vocals), ER White (guitar), Jordan Stewart (keyboard) and Will Sowers (bass), along with touring band members Branden Morgans (drums) and Matthew Marcellus (guitar/backup vocals). What started as a metalcore band in 2006 became a post-hardcore band in 2007 when Jonny Craig became the group’s frontman, and became iconic in their image. Fast forward to 2011 and Emarosa was without a vocalist. The band went two and a half years completely stagnant: no tours, no singer, no music and no updates. Eventually, Bradley Walden (formerly of the band Squid) became the new vocalist and Emarosa began touring again. They released their new album Versus on September 9 and found themselves on tour with Memphis May Fire and Yellowcard; an amazing feat for a band that is just finding their momentum again.
When Emarosa took the stage, the fans screamed in excitement. For most it was the first time they had seen the band in years, and for some it was their first chance to see what Emarosa was all about. Bradley Walden took the stage with a confident presence and it seemed fans immediately accepted his newfound place in the band. Walden sang with a powerful yet soulful voice and possessed an energetic aura onstage. The fans who knew the songs off of the new album sang their hearts out, while newcomers to the Emarosa experience nodded their heads to the beat and took it all in. Their set was riddled with technical difficulties and so Walden continuously directly interacted with the fans, telling jokes and stories in between songs while the problems were being fixed. The band didn’t let any of the technical difficulties slow them down, as each song built up to be even more intense, energetic and raw than the last. They jumped, head banged and all-out rocked with the crowd throughout their entire set. For most, they left an impressive mark with their opening performance.
Dallas, TX post-hardcore outfit Memphis May Fire followed. The band, formed in 2004 by guitarist Kellen Mcgregor, were formerly known as Oh Captain, My Captain, and have went through numerous lineup changes. The quintet found their stride with the addition of vocalist/keyboardist Matty Mullins. Their fourth studio album Unconditional was released on March 25.
Memphis May Fire completely rocked Amos’ throughout their entire set. The group’s loyal fans quickly flooded the floor and started an intense moshpit within the first 30 seconds of the opening song “No Ordinary Love.” Mullins’ vocals alternated between singing and screaming throughout the set; a trademark of their genre. Fans screamed the lyrics back to the band, jumped, fist-pumped and moshed, seemingly without a care in the world. The band exuded that same energy back to the audience from the stage. When the band needed a short breather, Mullins filled the gaps with uplifting words to the crowd and spoke about the deep meaning behind the lyrics of the songs he introduced, which also had the fans screamed in understanding and agreement.
Memphis May Fire slowed down their set with “Miles Away and Need To Be,” and the crowd responded by swaying their arms, lifting their phones into the air and singing at the top of their lungs while Mullins’ crooned, “With every letter I read / I see their desperate cries to find the missing piece / They just want to believe someone can take away the burdens they carry.” The energy picked right back up with the final three songs of the set, “Beneath the Skin,” “Prove Me Right” and “Legacy.” By the end of their set, showgoers were drenched in sweat and wore smiles on their faces.
The final band of the night were pop-punkers Yellowcard. The band formed in 1997 in Florida and have gone through several lineup changes and an “indefinite hiatus” in 2008 which lasted two years, and have released nine studio albums. Their latest full-lenghth, Lift A Sail, dropped on October 7. Yellowcard have had their fair share of personal struggles, many of which they share with the crowd; they have opened up about violinist Sean Mackin’s fight against thyroid cancer, and vocalist Ryan Key dealing with the consequences of a skiing accident that left his wife wheelchair-bound with a broken back.
Yellowcard opened their set with a violin solo from Lift A Sail opening track “Convocation.” The crowd erupted into screams as the full band took the stage and rocked out to “Transmission Home” and “Crash the Gates.” Key announced that he was fighting a severe sinus infection and didn’t know if they would make it through the entire set. The loyal Yellowcard fans pleaded in return with chants of “We’ll sing for you!” Yet, Key’s strong vocal performance and the energy he possessed was astonishing considering his illness. Yellowcard alternated between a dose of old songs, including “Only One,” which set the crowd off with jumping, fist-pumping and dancing. The band continuously thanked the crowd for their energy during both old and new songs, and even brought out Memphis May Fire’s lead singer, Matty Mullins to perform “The Deepest Well” which truly became an exploding moment for the band and the crowd as the energy peaked to a new height. A lone crowd surfer even made an appearance during the iconic “Ocean Avenue.”
Ryan Key closed out the set alone onstage, performing “California,” a song written for his wife while she was out of the country recovering from her accident. Then the evening was capped with all of the bands coming back out on stage to take a picture with the audience. Each of the bands brought something unique to the stage, and though the tour lineup is unexpected, it works. All three bands managed to hold their own and bring a vast group of fans together for a night of rock and roll.