November 10, 2018 at House of Blues
The band was wholly aware of their nostalgia factor and played it to their advantage.
Picture this: it’s 2010. Your wrists are covered in rubber bracelets and you just got back from a Hot Topic shopping spree. You pick up your iPod Touch and play All Time Low radio on Pandora and ‘Miserable at Best’ by Mayday Parade comes on. The intense emotions that only a 14-year-old can feel overwhelm you as a tear falls down your face. You’ve never experienced real heartbreak before, but you’re lip-syncing along with such fervor that you feel like you completely understand the experience.
The House of Blues was filled to the brim with people who either shared that 2010 experience or just had it yesterday. Mayday Parade knew the strong feelings they evoked, selling a horrendously dip-dyed t-shirt with the phrase “Mayday Parade is an emotion” hastily pasted on. Girls surrounding me talked about how this was the seventh time they’d seen the band, reminiscing over the days of Warped Tour and rubber bracelets.
Mayday Parade encompasses every feeling of a lost, emo teenager. They felt like a parody of pop-punk (summed up best by this video), but there’s no way to be a pop-punk band without feeling like a parody. Lead singer Derek Sanders yelled, “Is everyone taking care of each other out there?” and talked about how he loved being surrounded by his “best friends in the whole world.” He jumped around barefoot, talking about how he just wanted everyone to have fun.
The band was wholly aware of their nostalgia factor and played it to their advantage. Toward the back end of the set after a performance of oldie ‘I Swear This Time I Mean It,’ Sanders brought out an acoustic guitar and asked the crowd, “We have some fans of emo music here?” They responded with a chorus of cheers as he shouted that he’ll always be an emo kid. He then jumped into an acoustic medley of ‘My Friends Over You’ by New Found Glory, ‘I’m Not Okay’ by My Chemical Romance and ‘Cute Without The ‘E’’ by Taking Back Sunday. The idea of the cover was clever, but its execution was disappointingly half-assed. Its only purpose was to get the crowd excited about their 11-year-old hit ‘Jamie All Over’ and prepare for ten minutes of pure nostalgia that continued with their Punk Goes Pop cover of Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ and 2009 hit ‘Anywhere But Here.’
For the last few songs, Sanders sat at a piano with drummer Jake Bundrick, who sang backup vocals for the band’s quieter songs. He prefaced ‘Three Cheers for Five Years’ with a heartfelt story about how it was the first song they’d ever written as a band. But the highlight of the acoustic songs, and quite possibly the whole show, was a heartbreaking performance of ‘Miserable at Best.’ Phone flashlights swayed and the crowd was nearly brought to tears as Sanders and Bundrick harmonized. Hearing them sing the iconic phrase “I can live without you, but without you I’ll be miserable at best” was incredibly cheesy and cliché, but brought me right back to the days of staring at the ceiling with my earbuds in after a hard day at school.
The glory days of pop-punk seem to be over. It was hard to shake the feeling that everyone in the venue was just a bit too old for this. Derek Sanders is 32 years old and still jumping around on stage with no shoes, guitarist Brooks Betts’ hair looks like it’s about to fall out after being dyed so many times, and everyone just looked exhausted. But even as I get older and grow more jaded, there’s still a soft spot in my heart for the music I loved when I was 14. The whole reason I attended the show in the first place was to relive the simplicity of the days where the heartbreak and loss they sang about was nothing but a far-away concept to me. Objectively, Mayday Parade is cheesy and ridden with clichés, yet there’s still something special about seeing one of your favorite bands from middle school.
Photos by Ingrid Angulo