My Chemical Romance: 27 May 2011 - Hollywood, CA

Melissa Bobbitt

A My Chemical Romance performance is a celebration of innocence, a wish for their admirers to never age bitterly.

My Chemical Romance

My Chemical Romance

City: Hollywood, CA
Venue: Hollywood Palladium
Date: 2011-05-27

“We don’t talk much anymore. We just rock the fuck out," explained Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance to a sea of enamored faces at the Hollywood Palladium. And for a bunch of killjoys, the place sure ignited in merriment after he made that proclamation.

But there is something vital and invigorating about MCR’s brand of grown-up pretend. When we last saw the New Jersey/California rock-pop kings, they were adorned in gothic soldiers’ garb, touting themselves as The Black Parade (Reprise). Sharing a name with their bombastic 2006 album, this incarnation of the group eschewed its emo roots and instead emulated Queen. It was the most theatrical punk presentation since Green Day’s American Idiot.

And now, the foursome (all ages 29 and older, mind you) are playing dress up again. This album cycle sees the rockers as laser-toting vigilantes in a dystopian future. Last year’s Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys tapped into the kinetic energy of America’s post-Dubya youth, all while mashing together Parade’s pomp with the band’s grittier back catalog. It was a feverish cross-pollination of hardcore (“Destroya”) with unabashed cheese (Way commands, “Shut up, and let me see your jazz hands!” in the precariously titled “Na Na Na [Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na.]”).

Though the standard emo-concert uniform is all black, drooped shoulders and excessive eyeliner (on both sexes), at an MCR gig, you’ll see Dia de los Muertos face paint, boys with the same tomato-red tresses as Way’s and t-shirts brandishing the word “Bandit” on them. (That’s a nod to the singer’s two-year-old daughter, Bandit, who celebrated a birthday the night of the May 27th Palladium show. In between a pulverizing set by openers Circa Survive and the 90-minute extravaganza by MCR, fans sang “Happy Birthday” to the little tyke – who wasn’t seen, but was presumably backstage or on the bus with mama LynZ of Mindless Self Indulgence. Way, too, recognized his child’s special day by scrawling a birthday message to her on his arms.)

A My Chemical Romance performance is a celebration of innocence. Certainly, Way’s monologues and lyrics are peppered with the “F” word, but his band worships juvenile pursuits. It isn’t for a lack of maturity but a wish for their admirers to never age bitterly. Before launching into the stirring anthem “Sing”, Way cautioned the mostly teenage and 20-something crowd to deny society the privilege of stripping away their beliefs and convictions. He’d also form his hands into heart shapes and pulsate them toward the audience.

His message for pure hearts resonated in that classical Tinseltown venue. One could see a boy, about seven, hoisted up on his dad’s shoulders, throwing devil horns and mouthing the words to the epic rock ballad “Helena". Just to the left, a gray-haired gent, who was likely pushing 50, spun himself into a fury during the anti-“Twilight” tune, “Vampire Money”. All were swept up in the immense fun of it all.

Though Way handles the bulk of interaction with the concert-goers, his band mates hold their own. Ray Toro is a mind-blowing guitarist. Again, to reference Queen, Toro’s blazing licks rival that of Brian May’s. Effortlessly, he can go from operatic scales (best exhibited in The Black Parade’s monstrous title track) to throat-crushing mayhem (an older take, “Give ‘Em Hell, Kid”). His prowess really sets MCR apart from your average pop-punk outfit.

Increasingly, the group has infused very non-punk elements to their songs. At the Palladium, keyboards played an integral role in sculpting the sound. James Dewees (also of the Get Up Kids) manned the keys perfectly, taking the lead in the heartfelt “Cancer” … and an off-the-cuff tease of Limp Bizkit’s “Nookie”. Can’t say the guy doesn’t have range.

My Chemical Romance is one day going to be looked back on as one of those classic rock bands who evolved with each release and never got boring. Like the chameleonistic careers of David Bowie or the Smashing Pumpkins, this generation will grow old reminiscing about Gerard Way’s “vampire” era, then his “killjoy” era, et al. But most significantly, the songs will withstand the test of time, all the while remaining a little “danger”ous.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.