Paramore is not exactly the kind of band you’d regularly find in the coverage crosshairs of Antiquiet. Regardless, a few of us here at the site have watched the band as they’ve grown and changed, acknowledging that they can put out a decent song or two while also recognizing and understanding the machine behind the band.
As Antiquiet’s resident pop connoisseur, I was pleasantly surprised at just how solid their latest self-titled LP is. It’s a record dripping with lyrics regarding Hayley’s former bandmates, sometimes bitterly, and it’s shockingly honest for an LP put out by the mighty mainstream pop machine. With some trepidation from the higher-ups here at AQ, I was given the green light to head to the Verizon Theatre in Dallas last night, where I watched and listened as Hayley Williams and her bandmates aired out all of the drama and brought their new album to life. A supporting set by Metric just made the evening that much better.
Metric’s set was short but sweet, delivering a number of tracks from last year’s Synthetica LP along with a few older favorites. The band sounded as good as they ever have, from Emily’s flawless vocal performances during Youth Without Youth and Breathing Underwater to the band’s great delivery of the synthrocky Gold Guns Girls. Emily did seem a bit disconnected from the crowd which isn’t the norm with Metric, but the band’s performance was so solid it didn’t seem to bother most of the audience.
Paramore’s headlining set began promptly as scheduled, a gigantic curtain dropping as Hayley Williams and her audacious orange bob appeared. The band kicked off with Grow Up, one of those bitter songs mentioned above. Donning a jacket with the words “Grow Up” emblazoned on the back, Hayley marched back and forth across the stage, delivering damning line after damning line. “I said, I’m done with all of my fake friends / Self-righteous pawns in a losing game,” Hayley snarled, eventually giving way to the chorus: “Some of us have to grow up sometimes / And so, if I have to I’m gonna leave you behind.” Simple and to the point, Hayley’s message to her departed bandmates very clear.
Remaining band members Jeremy Davis (bass) and Taylor York (guitar) were joined by a number of touring musicians, helping to flesh out the band’s sound. All in all, the band sounded about as good as they could. At times the mix was a little off, Davis’ bass overpowering almost all of the other instruments, but for the majority of the show the band was on point. From the punchy riffs of Ignorance to the very Rock Steady-era, No Doubt-ish Fast in My Car, the band delivered the pop-punk goods.
Hayley’s constant movement on stage causes some understandable strain on her voice, resulting in her talk-singing or asking the crowd for help fairly frequently during the faster numbers. During the ballads and little ukulele interludes during the show, however, Hayley’s voice really shines. The Only Exception and Interlude: I’m Not Angry Anymore both allowed Hayley to show off the softer side of her voice and the control she has over her upper register.
The band pulled out a number of tracks from their breathrough Riot! album, including fan favorites Crushcrushcrush and That’s What You Get. For Misery Business, which closed out the main set, Hayley grabbed a girl from the crowd and dragged her out on stage to sing the rest of the song with the band. Luckily the girl didn’t have any trouble following through, and while she was just shy of butchering the song, at least she got to have a night she’ll never forget.
The band played a little more than half of the new self-titled LP, including the shimmering Daydreaming and Ain’t It Fun, which found them bringing out a local high school choir to fill out the choruses. Side note: Ain’t It Fun is probably the most new jack swing-sounding song released since 1995, and sounds more than a little similar to Bobby Brown’s Every Little Step, which means the song is awesome.
All three interludes from the album made appearances, including Moving On, which once again brings out the claws in regards to her former bandmates. “Let ’em play their songs / let ’em say what’s right and wrong / let ’em do their thing / cause they’ll never be you and me,” Hayley sang almost cathartically. “We got our own style / we got a way of livin’ life / if they can’t get down / well we don’t need them around.” It’s clear Hayley felt no need to beat around the bush while working on the new record, and as such it comes across as far more honest and heartfelt than their past output.
The show ended with Still Into You, confetti flying from the stage and balloons dropping from the ceiling. The song, one of the band’s poppiest singles ever, caused a huge reaction from the crowd. Everyone, from the general admission pits to the back of the 400s section, seemed to be bouncing along joyfully to the music as the band closed out their performance.
The band has changed over the past few years, brought on by inner drama and who knows what else, but they’ve changed for the better. The Paramore present during this show was a pop band ready to take on the world, well-oiled and passionate, capable of delivering a night of fun for their fans. It’s still pop music at heart, meaning it isn’t going to win over anyone who needs a decisively harder edge to their music, but for those who haven’t shut out mainstream music entirely, Paramore delivers on the live front. The band’s new record seems like a way for them to finally air out all of the negativity and drama surrounding the last few years of their career, and allowed them a way to grow both musically and lyrically. Hopefully they continue on this trajectory with whatever their next album is; Pop music is in a pretty terrible place right now, but Paramore is once again a shimmer of hope.
Metric setlist: Artificial Nocturne, Satellite Mind, Youth Without Youth, Speed the Collapse, Help I’m Alive, Synthetica, Breathing Underwater, Sick Muse, Gold Guns Girls
Paramore setlist: Grow Up, Fast in My Car, That’s What You Get, Decode, Ignorance, Interlude: I’m Not Angry Anymore, Now, Daydreaming, When It Rains, Last Hope, Brick by Boring Brick, Interlude: Holiday, Crushcrushcrush, Ain’t It Fun, The Only Exception, In the Mourning (w/ Landslide), Pressure, Misery Business, Part II, Interlude: Moving On, Still Into You
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