The Night the Buzz Stole XXmas
December 8, 2010
My Chemical Romance is a band that I absolutely adore. The over-the-top theatricality of the Black Parade took me from a casual admirer to a die-hard fan. However, due to various financial or scheduling issues, I'd never seen the band live until last night. I'd had my doubts as to whether or not My Chemical Romance could actually pull off those riffs and high notes live.
The answer: Holy hell, yes. Like an L.A. glitter-rock band taking over the Sunset Strip, the band owned the Midland.
With simply lowering the lighting rigs, My Chemical Romance made the theater seem like a small club. Gerard Way had taken all the tricks taught by the likes of Freddie Mercury, Axl Rose, and Mick Jagger, and he has the audience in the palm of his hand as he strutted, preened, and posed.
The band's tightness was astounding. With the exception of some pauses in between songs that killed the momentum, the band jumped from song to song with ease, bringing the mood and energy up to a crescendo, and then mellowing it out. The new material from Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys got a great response. People flipped out when they opened with "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)," joined in on "Sing," and danced like the fog machines had been dosing them with Ecstasy during "Planetary (GO!)." But the response Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge cuts like "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" was overwhelmingly louder than the cheers for the newer, less-familiar songs.
"The Black Parade," back-to-back with "Teenagers," was the highlight of my year. Those two tracks off The Black Parade epitomize My Chemical Romance's punk take on classic rock better than anything, and the sing-along choruses to both were belted out by the entire audience. "We're My Chemical Romance and we fucking love you," was how Way ended the set proper, only to come out and do an encore of "Cancer" accompanied only by James Dewees on keys. It was lovely and wrenching, and had I not been surrounded by acres of teenagers, I probably would've burst into tears.
Now, I'm aware I'm about five to ten years outside the Buzz's target demographic. I am neither a scene kid, nor do I have plugs in my ears. So, while I eagerly wanted to see My Chemical Romance (and squealed like a 13 year-old girl when I found out I got to cover this show), I was less than enthused about the openers.
The frontman for A Day to Remember looked so much like a buddy of mine that I couldn't take him seriously as a "hard" dude. In terms of what they were producing musically: you know it's bad when you describe a band as "good, but they're no Atreyu." The band had no stage presence at all, save singer Jeremy McKinnon bouncing up and down, and the occasional choreographed headbang from the guitarists and bassist. "Homesick" demonstrated that they're like Stretch Arm Strong, without the melodic hooks or songwriting ability.
I've seen "hardcore" screamo acts from Hatebreed on, and this sound is so tired and played out, it just became a game of count-the-cliches. Backdrop with block letters: check. "Get the fuck up!": check. Singing and growling: check. "Tear this place up!": check. "Biggest circle pit ever," has been said by every metal, punk, and hardcore band ever. It is played the fuck out. Stop it.
Innerpartysystem played dance rock with bass loud enough to rattle the cuffs on my jeans. (The Faint did it better, and Trent Reznor wants his angst back.) The band had neither the vocal power to communicate the vaguely political lyrics -- like Get paper, get check, get gold around neck / 'Cause money makes the world go round -- nor the sexual energy required to get folks dancing. From my vantage point, I could see pretty much the entire floor of the Midland, and with the exception of a very small amount of folks up front, I didn't see anybody getting down.
Local openers the Beautiful Bodies' drummer Brian Jewell had been injured earlier in the week, so they had a sub, Jake Ryan, for their set last night. (Impressively, he'd learned the entire set in just two days.) With that in mind, my first opportunity to see these local phenoms is influenced by the fact that they weren't operating at 100%. That being said, however, I was less than impressed.
Despite singer Alicia Solo (aka Alicia Solombrino) gyrating on a security guard's head and throwing inflatable Christmas toys into the audience, the Beautiful Bodies weren't anything special. As my wife put it: "The soundtrack to a visit to Hot Topic." Solombrino's got a short range, and without her gyrations and flirty coquettish glances, the band would be fairly dull. The band's music is fairly generic alt-rock, like a less interesting and less arty Yeah Yeah Yeahs. A shitty mix, with either no low end, or no vocals, or no high end, didn't help. However, neither did the fact that it wasn't until the last half of the last song that the band itself showed any energy. They were stock-still the rest of the set.
Critics' Bias: We listened to Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge in the car during my bachelor party.
Overheard In the Crowd: "There are so many scene kids here. What's that about?"
Random Show Tweet: "If My Chem isn't good, I'll lose my mind. So much mediocrity."
Got "The Black Parade" confused with "The End" in my notes, since Way introduced it with, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is the end!"