When it was announced that Mayday Parade was taking A Lesson in Romantics on a tenth anniversary tour, it brought up a lot of memories for me. 10 years ago, I was just starting high school. I bought a few tracks off the album with an iTunes gift card and for months doodled the lyrics during geometry class. The words immediately struck me as emotional in a way that was more relatable than other groups who were popular at the time. The band didn’t wear eyeliner. They were also from Florida. Something about them seemed so real, like they were not cooler or better or more punk rock than me.
When I went to the Jacksonville, Fla. stop of this tour at Mavericks, I was curious to see how much I would still like them, how many lyrics I would remember. Their set was full of nostalgia and I was surprised by how much they did still resonate with me.
Mayday Parade delivers simple lyrics and intentional melodies that are emo, pop punk in its purest form. They bring a gracious charisma and glowing energy to the stage that is truly enjoyable. They interact with the audience, put on a show, and create a connection with the audience that is unique to see. Clearly the group is emotionally invested not just in their music, but in their fans, who have now loyally followed them for over a decade.
The sold-out show started with impressive and slightly heavier openers Milestones and Knucklepuck. They brought grit, circle pits, and a hardcore energy to the stage. By the time 9:30 came around, the crowd was well warmed-up for Mayday Parade’s set. The floor was jam-packed with longtime fans in their twenties, as well as teenagers and their reluctant, over protective parents. It reminded me so much of the shows I would attend growing up, with X’s on my hands and an insatiable thirst for mosh pit bruises. Unfortunately, a young crowd usually means a pushy crowd, trying to elbow their way through a wall of people to take Snapchat videos.
It is crazy how the scene does but doesn’t change: Snapchat is new, but there are still the same stocky guys swaying, red and sweaty and wet from water bottles of snuck-in liqour and girls who refuse to tie their long blonde hair up, letting it get stuck to everyone’s sweaty bodies.
Frontman Derek Sanders came to the stage dressed for Splash Mountain in neon swim shorts and an American flag Mickey Mouse shirt. Despite what their lyrics might suggest, these guys do not take themselves too seriously. Each member brings a charm and an enthusiasm to the stage that is palpable. This tour is equipped with a fantastic light show: glowing orbs, colorful strobes and firey effects that bring intimacy and warmth, but also confetti-like effervescence.
As Mayday Parade performed the entirety of A Lesson in Romantics, it was amazing to see that almost everyone could sing along with every single word. The crowd was amazingly loyal and in return a lot of time was given to them. Sanders was so thankful for this show, in their home state, sold out and full of life. At any point he could turn the mic over and the audience would carry on without missing a beat. Sanders brings so much energy to the stage that the audience gives him a break from singing at times. His tone is so clear in studio but there is a sweet authenticity to his imperfections live.
“Miserable at Best” was a moment we all waited for. Sanders sat behind his upright piano and drummer Jake Bundrick joined him, creating gentle, intimate harmonies. Here, Sanders’ tone was pained, conveying a broken passion that brings chills to skin and heaviness to hearts. It was the best moment for his voice that evening. The lyrical delivery is still as if it is their first time bringing that pain to life. Lighters and hands shaped as hearts swayed in the air. For a moment, all the pushing and screaming was completely subdued.
Mayday Parade truly delivered with a night of messy, youthful, pop punk that is so similar to what we saw from them 10 years ago. The small club was full of fans who had discovered them at all different points of their career and we each were treated to a personal experience. Mayday Parade is unique in their ability to create individual relationships and touch people in a way that brings memories and feelings to light in a bright, visceral way. They are one of the few remaining groups who visibly love what they do and obviously value their fans. Make sure to check Mayday Parade out live in the future if you have not yet before.
Check back in the coming days for coverage of Knucklepuck and Milestones’ sets that evening.