Blending wholesome exuberance with just the right amount of rebellious edge continues to be a winning formula for pop-punk bands, but it takes something extra, something special, to make a group of this ilk burst from the bunch. In the case of Florida-bred, California-based Yellowcard, that something is obviously supposed to be the spasmodic violin playing of Sean Mackin.
Mackin commanded nearly as much attention as singer Ryan Key during the quintet’s set at the Hollywood Palladium on Friday, and although the violinist’s enthusiastic embellishments did add a distinctive flair to some of the material, it wasn’t enough to make the band distinguishable from any other angsty young fellows in studded belts currently crooning and crunching their way onto MTV.
Not that the band’s followers seemed to care. Although casual radio listeners familiar with Yellowcard’s catchy hit “Ocean Avenue” would probably have a tough time differentiating that tune from the rest of its punchy repertoire, the Palladium crowd seemed to devour every word and melody.
Even during lackluster ballads, the fans kept a high-energy bounce, crowd-surfing and hand-waving nonstop.
The band’s cookie-cutter impression isn’t for lack of trying for more.
The set included instrumentation more akin to folk-rock than punk, including piano- and acoustic-guitar-driven numbers that were heartfelt, if unaffecting.
Although the group played in front of a backdrop of politically minded prose, its lyrics played it safe, dealing with unrequited love, leaving home and California dreams.
Headlining the Palladium could be one of those dreams. But now that the band has its day in the sun, what it does with it makes all the difference. Yellowcard seems smart enough to know this, but Friday’s show suggested that even the best intentions aren’t always enough.