If you were a teen growing up in the late 2000s, emo music was probably a part of your life at some point. The booming era for black eyeliner, skinny jeans, and hair dye; emo culture is something we often look back on in either fondness or grimace (especially if you had kept with the trend of flat ironed fringes!)

Over the weekend, all emo dreams came to life at Rockiss’ Rock On Festival 2019. Held at Taylors’ Lakeside University, the festival had Mayday Parade and With Confidence as the headliners alongside with seven local acts. As this was Mayday Parade’s first time back since 2014, there was quite a buzz amongst the emo community!

Walking up the stairs towards the Grand Hall, echos of guitar riffs, thumping drums and cheers could be heard from a distance. Fans had already gathered a small crowd in the hall in the afternoon, hours before the main acts were to come on. The local bands a lot of energy to the place, despite the size of the audience.

Among a few notable acts included An Honest Mistake, Patriots and Oh Chentaku. An Honest Mistake’s frontman Darren was ever the charmer, interacting with the crowd to get them more hyped up— and even dropping a few flirty lines here and there. Patriots brought energy like never before, even giving a hand to the crowd for supporting the local industry for coming early to see them perform.

The line up ended with Oh Chentaku, who tied everything up perfectly. With sheepish mentions of how lead singer Myo was actually an alumnus of Taylors (“Any hospitality kids here?”) and how he used to skip classes to play snooker, there was no mistaking the confidence that he brought to the stage. The years of experience truly shows in their case, as the band has come such a long way in terms of musical maturity. With impressive vocals, Oh Chentaku gave an effortless performance.

As the hours went by, the crowd slowly grew larger. There was no denying the anticipation as each local band finished their set, signalling how Mayday Parade’s set was inching closer. What was previously gaps in the crowd were replaced with new fans, all sandwiched next to each other to get a good enough view of the stage. A mix of excitement, adrenaline, and sweat; the crowd were getting antsy for the highlight of the night to begin.

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When With Confidence came on, immediate change of atmosphere.

The Australian rockers gave us a taste of pop punk from down under, with the charming lead singer and bassist Jayden Seeley throwing compliments to the crowd after each song. Guitarist Del noted excitedly that he saw monkeys earlier today, saying how much he enjoyed being in Malaysia. Fans were yelling back at them, jeering at how Malaysia’s heat could not compare to Australia’s and the band laughed along, agreeing. The band gave it their all, played with full energy. Playing songs from their new record as well, With Confidence did not compromise when it came to terms of delivering a full performance. Familiar jams such as “Godzilla” (which Jayden played since a fan asked for it!), “Jaded”, “Dinner Bell” and “Voldemort” got all the pop punkers singing along.

Jayden teased and hyped the crowd for Mayday Parade as well, getting everyone even more worked up. It seemed to have done its job as it gave the crowd the energy rush they needed. When With Confidence left the stage, there was a different feel to the air. Everyone knew what was coming, and it was what they were waiting for all night.

Chants of “Mayday! Mayday!” even rung out at first as their staff members rushed about the stage, soundchecking all the instruments for the members. Mayday Parade felt like a different league altogether. The moment the massive Mayday Parade banner was raised to replace the previous Rockiss backdrop, the excitement felt was almost spilling over at this point.

When the lights went off, members Brooks Betts, Jake Bundrick, Alex Garcia, Jeremy Lenzo took their positions and started playing the intro of “Never Sure”–the first track of their latest album, “Sunnyland”. And then came lead singer Derek Sanders, long hair bobbing as he jumped around the stage in his floral shorts and bare feet. As they launched into the song, confetti cannons shot through the air, truly signaling the beginning of the night.

As Derek asked the crowd how they were feeling tonight, they started playing the second song; “Jersey”. This was when the crowd truly started freaking out, singing their hearts out along to the song off their debut album. Switching it back to the newer stuff, “It’s Hard To Be Religious When Certain People Are Never Incinerated By Bolts Of Lightning” came next before playing the classic, “Black Cat”.

After four fast songs, the band slowed things down with “Hold Onto Me” to let the crowd catch their breath. Derek got an acoustic guitar out as well, teaching the crowd how to sing along to the chorus of “Piece Of Your Heart” before actually playing the track. He even asked fans if they liked emo music, which was of course met with enthusiastic cheers. “I’m right here with you guys,” he replied. “Always have been an emo kid, always will be,” said the 32 year old with a smile, as he started strumming some short covers of emo bands such as “I’m Not Okay” by My Chemical Romance.

Deciding that the crowd had enough time to recharge, Mayday Parade went in hard with the youthful “Jamie All Over”. The entire hall was screaming along to the lyrics, echoing the line, “Please don’t tell me that I’m dreaming” as they jumped along to the pop punk anthem. The band surprised fans even further by playing something off their Pop Goes Punk compilation: their rendition of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know”. The energy didn’t stop there as they played “Anywhere But Here”, a powerful single from their second album, and “When You See My Friends”, an emotionally charged song from their third self titled album.

The moment the keyboard was lifted to the front, everyone knew it was time for Mayday Parade’s classic sentimental songs. True enough, first up came “Miserable At Best”–which is arguably the band’s most notable song. This was a true throwback to the classics, a song where almost every person present knew all the words to and were singing along passionately to the words of heartbreak. “I can live without you but,” sang Derek, with the crowd completing the line for him: “Without you, I’d be miserable at best.”

“Stay” came on next, which had a slow beginning on the piano before it’s raw chorus came in. However this signified the end of slow songs, as the keyboard was removed and “Three Cheers For Five Years” was played next. Being the first song ever written by Mayday Parade and was considered their debut in the pop punk scene, it was especially moving to see them perform it with such vigor even after 13 years. Ending their set with the 2012 anthem, “Oh Well, Oh Well”, the band got everyone jumping on their feet to the song before ducking out behind the stage for a quick break.

As shouts of “Encore!” grew louder, the members graced their presences on the stage for the last time to perform the final song of the night. “This song goes out to anyone here who’s in a dark place or going through a hard time right now,” said Derek as he raised the mic towards his lips. Wrapping the night with “I Hate To Be You When People Find Out What This Song Is About”, Mayday Parade sealed it with a kiss of nostalgia by ending it with yet another classic.

All in all, Mayday Parade brought their A-game for the show. Despite not playing anything off their fifth album, “Black Lines”, their choice of setlist for the night was perfect to get the crowd going. Paying close attention to their breakout and debut album, “A Lesson In Romantics”, all the attendees at Rockiss Rock On Festival 2019 were brought back to the late 2000s and simpler times.

With promises of coming back to Malaysia soon (and not making us wait another 5 years) we just can’t wait to see them have a whole concert of their own. To that, we say, three cheers! ?

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Leyasheena
Our resident K-pop queen is conquering the world, one emotional support K-pop boy at a time.