Live Review: Mayday Parade, As It Is & Real Friends @ Rock City

On the last day of May, Rock City presented a pop punk trio of bands, in the form of Real Friends, As It Is and Mayday Parade, to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of Mayday Parade’s self-titled album. Gemma Cockrell reviews.

Real Friends opened the show, and to my surprise they played a selection of older songs from their discography among their newer material, despite now having Cody Muraro as their new vocalist, replacing Dan Lambton in 2021. Muraro successfully made the band’s older songs his own, and unless you were aware of this fact, you probably wouldn’t have realised that songs like Late Nights In My Car and I’ve Given Up On You weren’t originally performed by him.

They were followed by As It Is, a band who I had previously seen live circa 2016. I remember them being brilliant back then, having just released their debut album Never Happy, Ever After, and they were just as exciting now as a more established band with four albums under their belt. They played mostly material from their recent album I WENT TO HELL AND BACK, the highlight being the track In Threes. Surprisingly, the band said they were testing the song out to see if it worked on the setlist, and I hope they came to the conclusion that it most definitely did.

They closed the set with their most well-known song Dial Tones, after vocalist Patty Walters spoke about how important the return of live music has been to him. This became a common recurring theme throughout the night. Both Real Friends and Mayday Parade, being American bands, had travelled overseas to be in the UK, something that they both admitted they were unsure whether or not they would ever be able to do again at one point in time. The crowd were thanked multiple times for supporting live music, and you could tell how much being able to tour again meant to them all.

''In true stereotypical pop punk fashion, the Rock City balcony was completely empty, with everyone crowding onto the floor of the venue''

With the tour being a celebration of the ten-year anniversary of Mayday Parade’s 2011 self-titled record, the band played the album in its entirety, from front to back, which made the setlist very easy to remember when writing this review. In true stereotypical pop punk fashion, the Rock City balcony was completely empty, with everyone crowding onto the floor of the venue to get involved with the action.

However, since the album falls into a sub-genre I like to call ‘emotional pop punk’, this meant that the moshing that is often seen at pop punk shows was absent – instead, the action came in the form of people emotionally screaming lyrics through the odd tear escaping their eyes. You could tell that the crowd had a strong attachment and connection to the album, and moments like Oh Well, Oh Well and Stay felt especially cathartic. In particular, the live setting demonstrated just how much of an emotional masterpiece the latter of those tracks is, feeling like one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ songs that doesn’t come around very often.

Vocalist Derek Sanders admitted that the track A Shot Across The Bow either goes off or is a miss with the crowd, and with it being perhaps one of the tracks from the album that I am the least emotionally connected to, it wasn’t a highlight of the set for me personally. Having said that, I didn’t notice a difference in the crowd’s response at all, with everyone showing equal enthusiasm for each song on the setlist. It was definitely a suitable decision to play the album in its entirety, with it featuring so many highlights of the band’s discography.

Once they reached the album closer Happy Endings Are Stories That Haven’t Ended Yet, the band disappeared momentarily before returning for an encore made up of some of their best-known tracks from elsewhere in their discography. Piano ballad Miserable At Best generated the same emotional response as Stay, and Jamie All Over ended the night on a more upbeat note. The evening did both the band and their self-titled album justice, driven by nostalgia and teenage memories for many, whilst celebrating everything that Mayday Parade have achieved in the past decade.

Gemma Cockrell


Edited by: Amrit Virdi

Featured image and in-article images courtesy of Gemma Cockrell. Permission to use granted to The Mic. No changes made to these images.