Image: Sophie Flint Vázquez via The Boar

Mayday Parade energise Birmingham’s O2 Academy with raucous pop punk

O2 Academy, Birmingham, 11th February 2024

The lights go down, and the buzz of anticipation fills Birmingham’s O2 Academy. The big name on the tour poster is Simple Plan, of course, but the murmurs of excitement that race through the crowd are indicative of one thing: people are just as excited to see the Talahasee pop punkers, Mayday Parade, as they are to see Simple Plan. After all, many of their fans overlap. 

The clock strikes 7, and an emerald green wash of light fills the venue. All that can be heard is a raucous cheer, while a singular figure emerges from the side of the stage. 

Mayday Parade have taken the stage, and it belongs to them

“When you’re alone, do you think of me?” a voice rings. The voice belongs to Derek Sanders, lead singer of Mayday Parade. The song is ‘Oh Well, Oh Well’. Sanders’ voice rings loud and clear, but his expression is earnest. However, the mischievous glint in his eye suggests the band are here for more than just to warm up the stage for Simple Plan. Soon, the rest of the band piles out, and Mayday Parade are ready to rock.

‘Oh Well, Oh Well’ grips the crowd, but the second they break out into ‘More Like a Crush’, it’s like a bomb goes off and all hell breaks loose. Guitarists Alex Garcia and Brooks Betts sprint excitedly from one end of the stage to another, furiously strumming and plucking, with drummer Jake Bundrick slamming the drums as if his life depended on it. At this point, there is no going back: Mayday Parade have taken the stage, and it belongs to them.

‘Anywhere But Here’ is no different, as surges of people sway back and forth, launching themselves closer to the stage to get in on the action. The band feeds on this energy, with Sanders pointing at people and making eye contact with them while they sing along to the lyrics. The O2 Academy may hold 3000 people, but at that moment, Mayday Parade make each fan feel like they’re the only one in the room. 

The level of energy in the room is so high it feels unsustainable. But ‘I’d Hate to Be You When People Find Out What This Song Is About’, a usually slower song from their beloved 2007 album, A Lesson In Romantics does nothing to slow down the pace of the show. If anything, it hypes up the crowd for the second half of the set.

Mayday Parade are no strangers to playing shows in the UK

‘Piece of Your Heart’ comes next. A softer, piano-and-guitar-led track, it empowers Sanders’ voice, with uplifting harmonies from bassist Jeremy Lenzo making the track feel robust and commanding. Following ‘Piece of Your Heart’, ‘Kids in Love’ puts the pop in pop punk. The track is beautifully nostalgic, with a chorus that begs people to sing along to it. But whatever memories people may have associated with the song are put aside during the show. Looking around, it is clear that new memories are being made tonight. People hug their loved ones, others hold hands, and all around the crowd is having the time of their lives. 

By the time the last two tracks roll around, Mayday Parade has won the crowd over, and from the band’s beaming smiles, it seems like the feeling is mutual. ‘Jersey’ and ‘Jamie All Over’ close the set, and at this point, each and every person present is singing alone. People may be here to see Simple Plan headline, but these last two Mayday Parade songs are staples in the playlists of anyone who listens to any kind of pop punk, or pop punk adjacent, music. With moody, angsty vocals and lyrics to match, both songs embody exactly what the crowd tonight is looking for – a cathartic release and a trip down memory lane back to 2007 when life was perhaps a tiny bit easier. 

With that, Mayday Parade take their final bow, thank the crowd, and leave the stage, followed by a colossal cheer and spirited clapping from the crowd. The set finishes all too quickly, but Mayday Parade are no strangers to playing shows in the UK. So fear not, because before too long, the band is certain to return. 



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