Yellowcard frontman speaks on band’s return to Buffalo for first time since 2016

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Yellowcard will be joining Third Eye Blind for the “Summer Gods Tour 2024,” which is scheduled to stop at Darien Lake Amphitheater on July 3.

The show will mark the Jacksonville rock band’s first performance in the Buffalo area since the 2016 Vans Warped Tour, and their first non-festival tour in the region since their 2015 Town Ballroom show.

Ryan Key, the band’s frontman, spoke about the upcoming tour and the Darien Lake show.

“We always had killer shows in Buffalo, whether it be Warped Tour or at a venue, so we’re excited to see everyone,” he said. “New York fans go hard, so we’re excited for the show.”

Return to the Queen City

Key spoke on what he’s most excited for in the band’s long-awaited return to Buffalo.

“We have a lot of friends up there that, obviously, not touring for a long time and not touring as regularly as we used to, it’s going to be nice to reunite with some friends in the parts of New York outside of New York City.”

He also said he regrets not being able to eat wings while in Buffalo, in order to preserve his vocal cords.

“I like them nuclear, so I can’t do it while I’m on the road,” he said. “But again, I think the most important thing, and it may be cliché to say — but it’s true — is to get back to these cities one at a time and reconnect with our fans. It’s what we’re most focused on as a band right now.”

Getting the band back together

After Yellowcard announced its breakup in June 2016, it was widely believed they would not be getting back together, as they had done following their previous hiatus nearly a decade prior. The band, however, reunited at Riot Fest 2022 in Chicago and have been playing together since.

“We never thought we were going to do this again,” Key said. “We walked away from Yellowcard with a real sense of permanence, like it was really over back in March 2017. It really ended in ’16 for the most part.”

Key said the band is now bigger than they’ve ever been — a different kind of big than their commercial success in the early-to-mid-aughts, when they had more ‘celebrity’ and public recognizability.

“We were all over the radio, we were a part of a big wave of bands that were all over MTV and TRL,” he said. “[Now] the shows are so much bigger than they ever have been, even during the ‘Ocean Avenue’ cycle and the ‘Lights and Sounds’ cycle. These shows are five times bigger.”

Key said that in San Diego, they would normally play the 1,500-capacity House of Blues, but instead, sold 8,000 tickets at Petco Park last summer.

“Coming back to every city we haven’t played in — in coming up on a decade — is a really special thing both for us and the fans,” Key said. “There are countless cities we need to fulfill that wish for. Every time we announce a tour and there aren’t stops in certain places — particularly Brazil, they’re the most demanding, they love us — they’re always asking us to come back.”

Between the breakup and reunion, Key joined fellow Florida pop-punk rockers New Found Glory, both as an opener and as part of the band.

“I will just say how grateful I am to New Found Glory for the opportunity they gave me, to keep playing music live when I thought there wasn’t going to be Yellowcard anymore,” he said. “I was really lost in the woods in 2017 when we stepped away.”

He credited them for being a constant in his life while he was trying to find a new path musically.

The 2024 summer tour

Key said the tour is very special for the band, having the chance to open for Third Eye Blind, one of Yellowcard’s all-time favorite bands. He said the setlist will be geared toward the bands ’90s kids roots and the music will be “a little less pop-punk, a little more rock and roll.”

Key also said the band’s jaws dropped when they were offered the opportunity to open for Third Eye Blind, whom they admire.

He mentioned that Third Eye Blind’s first two records were very defining for his music career, particularly Third Eye Blind’s self-titled album, which came out when he was 17 years old. He said he “burned a hole” in the record, describing it as a “masterclass in pop music writing.”

“It had all these super infectious melodies and lyrics, but it was still so unique sonically — it had a lot of angst and edginess to it, while somehow remaining super polished production-wise,” Key said. “We’ve referenced that record so many times for different sounds… it’s a really important record for all of us.”

Key said he is expecting the crowds to be more Third Eye Blind-heavy and that the Yellowcard fans coming to see them open are coming because they love the band, and will appreciate the deep cuts on the setlist.

“We’re very grateful for everyone that is going to be there,” he said. “I hope it kind of scratches two different itches, where we appeal to the older fans and the ’90s Alternative fans that are going to be there to see Third Eye Blind with some of our music that plays to that audience a little more, but also gets Yellowcard fans that are going to be at this show super stoked because they’re going to get to hear songs that they would never normally get to hear.”

In addition to the band’s hits “Ocean Avenue” and “Only One,” Key said to expect some songs from their 2014 album “Lift a Sail,” which turns 10 this year. He said it is the band’s first real opportunity to play songs they don’t usually get to play and to explore their discography a little more.

He also teased an impressive overall production for Yellowcard’s sets this summer.

Aside from announcing its second tour since the reunion, Yellowcard in February released a collaboration with post-rock artists Hammock, entitled “A Hopeful Sign.” The project is a reimagining of the band’s hits.

The 2023 20th anniversary tour

Last year, the band reunited for their first tour since the breakup, hitting over 20 venues in the U.S. to celebrate the 20th anniversary of “Ocean Avenue.” Though the tour didn’t make a stop in Buffalo, Key is eager to get back in front of Yellowcard’s Western New York fanbase this summer.

“I feel a little bad, because last year we did this huge 20 Years of Ocean Avenue [tour] and we played every single we’ve ever released for 90 minutes, and our first time back in Buffalo, we’re playing a 50-minute set with some pretty deep cuts,” he said. “But it’s going to be a special show and I’m excited for everyone to see it.”

Key spoke to the reasoning behind the decision to stray away from the hits and to mix in some songs they haven’t played in a while.

“We’ve been playing the singles set for a long, long time,” Key said. “If you think about it, we did this ‘final tour,’ where we really had to play all the fan-favorite songs for the last time, we thought, and then we did Riot Fest, where we played ‘Ocean Avenue’ all the way through and then we did the big summer tour last year, where we played the most-well known singles.”

The Darien Lake show is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. and tickets are available at this link. New Jersey rock band A R I Z O N A will be opening, followed by Yellowcard and Third Eye Blind.

Adam Duke is a digital contributor who joined the News 4 team in 2021. See more of his work here.

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