Yellowcard, growth through adversity…

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Have you every heard the idiom, it’s not what you do when people are watching you that determines your character, it’s what you do when no one’s watching that makes a difference. And with this band, you get the feeling they’ll conduct a stellar performance, no matter who’s watching or the size of the crowd. A relatively small attendance for the night, maybe 500 or so, but that didn’t stop these guys from giving it their all.

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I wouldn’t say it was the energy level, you’d see at a large scale festival event, with tens of thousands of people in attendance, such as the Warp Tour. But it was surely close. They could have easily just gone through the motions, get the set done with, pack it in and call it a night. Rather, it was high energy, Sean on the fiddle was almost constantly in motion, with striking animated, interesting to watch and photograph.


Ryan Key was centre stage on vocal duties, masterfully performing on guitar and keyboards, keeping things mixed up. Again, with a small crowd, they could’ve just packed it in a and cut the show little short, instead they performed for close to two hours. Ryan’s in-between song banter was part inspirational and informative. I believe it’s their third visit to Manila, so they even recognised many of the diehard fans in the front rows.


The connection between the band members was visible on stage, from non-verbal queues, to boisterous wise cracks while addressing at each other, their interaction was plain to see and high energy infectious. They’ve been around since 1997 and it shows, they performed without missing a beat, very tight musically.

music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie


Yellowcard is a band out of California who made a name for themselves in the pop-punk world, it’s Ryan Key on lead vocals, who performs on stage with multiple instruments, a keyboard and a guitar. Sean Mackin on violin, Ryan Mendez on guitar, Josh Portman on bass and Tucker Rule on drums.


Top three songs of the evening were “Light up the Sky”, my favourite from this band, “Ocean Avenue”, the track that put them on the map and an emotional new song, “One Bedroom,” where Ryan switched to an acoustic guitar. Even if you’re not fond of this genre, pay no attention to labels and check out “Light up the Sky’, outstanding song.

music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

Their ninth album is called “Lift a Sail” and was inspired by recent hardships in Ryan’s life, his wife is a professional snowboarder, who broke her back and was paralyzed from the waist down. A much deeper and sophisticated album than their previous creations, you can really feel the emotion in the songs.

music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

Sean, the violinist, has also recently hit some bumps in the road of life, he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and is now a cancer survivor, with surgery and treatment. And of course, plenty of prayers and support from his fans. They even started, “Strong for Sean” an organisation to help raise money for the American Cancer Society.

music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

I was excited to photograph the band, I’m always looking for a great image with a fiddle for my portfolio, but little did I expect to capture an image of the violinist in mid-air flip…no violin but I’ll take it.


Yellow card is a band with character. Witnessing their jubilant, high energy on-stage performance and constant interaction with the crowd, you’d wonder if it isn’t simply the music itself that keeps them going. It’s apparent they live life to the fullest and and if you haven’t caught them live yet, do so the next chance you get.

music photojournalism by Stephen Lavoie

Special thanks going out to the gang at Phoenix Productions for producing the show. Even was elected like a well-oiled machine, as usual. It’s always a pleasure to cover events that are well organised. Next up they have the Exodus Music festival…don’t miss it.

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