Unabridged Live Review/ Meet-And-Greet Recap: My Chemical Romance / December 15, 2010 / Chicago, IL
I can’t say I enjoy that not-line-waiting sensation because I do so love waiting and meeting people and feeling like I’ve been through a battle to get to the front row of a crowd. Shows become war-zones and one must fight for his or her survival. However, after figuring out that my meet-and-greet with the band would take place as the doors opened for the show made me a long wait could be fruitless.
However, there were many who braved the cold and who eventually got to wait inside for that amazing chance to see MCR up-close, including Paloma Pérez, 20, who flew in from New Mexico just for the show!
The night before, my friend and I had scoped out the venue layout and asked some questions about lining up of the security staff working at the House of Blues. We were surprised to find lone Paloma waiting outside at about 9:30 p.m. (again, that’s the night before the show). Though she and her friend were eventually asked to leave the premises and had to wait in their car, Pérez would have braved the dangerous chill all night and day for the band she loves.
"They have helped me become a better person, I would say." Pérez, for whom it was her very first MCR show after years of loving the band, told me the day of the show. "When people say 'My Chemical Romance saved me--' I've never been in a bad depression or anything like that, but there have been points in my life when I've turned to music when I feel bad or when I feel like, 'No, I can't do it anymore,' and My Chemical Romance has been one of those bands because I see the lives they have lead and it's like, they've had it bad compared to me-- they've made it so big, and I can do it too. And their lyrics and music have really helped me through so much, and it's really, really special to me, and to see them live means so much to me."
I was very happy to see Paloma reach the barricade later that night as I stood near the bar waiting for my meet-and-greet. It was very nice meeting her as well as a few others throughout the day! With hope, I will see more of you when I return for MCR's show at Chicago's Aragon Entertainment Center in April!
Speaking of that aforementioned but barely explained meet-and-greet...
(I have inserted a heading where the review portion begins if you don't care to read this part)
At 6:45 p.m., my friend and I were to meet MCR's manager outside the venue's box office to prepare for our meet-and-greet. The band's security guard (who deserves a huge, fucking medal for the way he helps kids in the pit) fetched us and took us into the concert hall where we waited for the radio station meet-and-greet winners. We narrowly avoided some extreme confusion that would have meant the radio station's kicking us out and someone having to come get us once again, then lined up behind the radio winners to meet the band.
As we waited, I met a couple people to whom I owe a huge thank-you for giving me the chance to meet the band and for being helpful: First I met a man named Dave from Warner Brothers Records who jokingly asked if I had lined up at 4 a.m. as he had been told my friend and I had previously planned. He was agape when I mentioned to him that there were people in line at 9:30 the night before. Ha-ha! Then I met MCR's lovely manager! She was extremely friendly and helpful, and I was in complete shock that she knew who I was!
My friend and I were the last two people of the group to meet the band. We filtered slowly into the small, white room into which photographers, security, us and the members of My Chemical Romance were crammed. The door opened in a way that completely blocked the MCR guys from sight at first. It was all a swirl of confusion until I stepped in and found myself suddenly extremely face-to-face with Gerard Way. I stepped back, stopped my search and realized I was standing, probably like a deer-in-headlights, before Frank Iero, Ray Toro, Gerard Way and Mikey Way, who were lined up against the wall.
"Guys, this is Cassie," MCR's manager said and they all greeted me with smiles and a "hello" as my friend said, "And I'm Emily, Cassie's guest," which made Frank chuckle.
One-by-one, we shook their hands and they each introduced themselves to us as the photographers behind us took pictures (which I still do not know where to find). I remember most clearly that Frank said "Nice to meet you, Cassie" when he shook my hand. When Mikey shook Emily's hand he told her that he liked her gloves. She said, "Cassie painted them for me. They say--" and Mikey cut her off and finished with a smile, "Jazz Hands."
After we all shook hands, I -- worried I wouldn't have much time to say anything of substance to them -- told them what I had hoped they would hear from someone ever since I re-watched their video interviews for the "Recent MCR Video Interviews" post I made last week:
"I want to say, because I've seen like 7 or 8 interviews now in which the interviewers ask you how it feels to not be making such 'dark and depressing' music anymore, that I have never talked to a single fan who has really listened to your albums and engaged with your music who could not see the hope in it."
The guys all listened very closely. I had never seen them so attentive and I was glad to have gotten the chance to say something like that to them because they all sincerely thanked me for saying it. Mikey even leaned in and quietly thanked me twice.
my boots and the rest of the band all said that they, too, had noticed them. Gerard was like, "Yeah. I was scoping those out. They're fucking awesome." I laughed as I stood at his side, both of us looking at my boots, and told him I had finished hand-painting them only two days prior. I believe he then muttered "...fucking awesome" again. Ha-ha!
We got our picture taken and were backing out to leave when Ray asked if he could take a picture of my boots. I awkwardly tried to find a way to stand that would show the two different sides, but opted to just stand like a normal human being so he could take a picture of one of the designs. He complimented them several more times and was so nice that I was nearly blushing. No clue what he's going to do with that picture, but it's awesome to know there's a picture of my calves and feet on Ray Toro's phone!
As Ray took the picture, my friend talked to Frank, telling him that I had worked hard on the boots to which he said, "Obviously!" and then they talked about Ohio weather, apparently. Ha-ha!
The entire exchange was fast, but so pleasant and unbelievable. The MCR guys listened so closely to what my friend and I said and all appeared to be in the best of moods. They were all smiling and looked us in the eye when we spoke to them. Mikey, I noticed, especially was grinning most of the time. I got completely befuddled and forgot to ask him about the legendary time he invaded #MCRchat. I wish I had remembered!
They welcomed us humbly and graciously. The entire time, we exchanged thank-yous. One can genuinely feel that they ARE thankful for the fans.
On the way out of the room, my friend told them to "have fun!" and Frank grinned at her and said, "YOU have fun." -- I think that moment is the perfect summary of the way it felt-- so friendly with a shared sort of caring.
I thanked their manager again on the way out as their security guard lead me and Emily onto the floor. It was almost time for the first opening band by then, and -- surprisingly -- there was the tiniest gap of barricade space left on Frank's side. My friend eased her way onto it gradually through the first two opening bands and so did I! We were shocked that no one else had stood there!
The Show Review!
(Bolded for easy skipping-ahead purposes!)
After having just met the band and with the growing anticipation to see them perform again for the first time in years, I felt my entire body start to go numb when the lights dimmed in the moments before MCR took the stage. I don't think any hassle, no matter how big, could have made me stop smiling as I yelled along to their introductory recording of Dr. Death Defying's "Look Alive, Sunshine" speech before the lights came up and the band revealed itself in an energetic mass ready to explode as it doused the audience in the pure awesome that is "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)."
The crowd surged and swirled with breakneck force to the song. Even in my little corner of the crowd where it was more sparse, I felt the wind leave my lungs in a violent burst, not only from screaming along, but from the crushing might of hundreds of fans showing their appreciation for the band they love.
The energy did not let up as the band proceeded into "Thank You For The Venom." Nostalgia raygun-blasted me straight in the face as I watched them perform the song I had come close to seriously injuring myself during from pure loving exertion in the seats of Dayton's Hara Arena for 2005's Taste of Chaos-- my very first concert.
It dawned on me in that moment that the band's newly charged-up energy is more reminiscent of those old shows than it has been in years. However, that is not to be said that they have regressed-- they have definitely improved. And their energy, if anything, has only taken what it once was and cloned itself tenfold to turn their performances into a huge monster on the prowl.
A benign, monster, that is-- with a mouthpiece who encourages fans' helping one another back up during crowd collapses, welcomes first time show-goers kindly and unabashedly praises his band. A kind, violent machine whose inner-controllers make their way across the stage just to hug one another and to smile and grin while speaking encouraging words.
There was such a brotherly and supportive feeling radiating from MCR when its members would look at one another and smile. Ray crossed the stage and spoke to Mikey and Frank and gave them both hugs. While Gerard was onstage with only James Dewees playing keyboard for "Cancer," I could see Ray watching from the side then applauding proudly at the end of the song. The visible friendship, encouragement and happiness to be playing was heartwarming. Often, bands will perform without members glancing even briefly at any of the others. It's never been that way with MCR, and their connection seemed stronger than ever at last night's show.
The House of Blues in Chicago literally shook under the excited weight of the crowd (especially during our synchronized "Planetary (GO!)" jumping). Even during the slower songs of the band's set, there was still crowd motion, and definitely raised voices singing along at full volume. We also marveled, listened and laughed between songs at things like Gerard's use of animal sounds when he howled before "House of Wolves" or made crow sounds ("CACKAW! CACKAW!") before "Mama."
I grinned proudly and happily for the band through most of the set, still amazed that I was finally seeing them again. I even found myself choking up somewhat during "The Only Hope for Me Is You," "SING," "Welcome To The Black Parade," their newly-arranged version of "The Ghost of You" and "Helena" because I was so moved by their performance and the countless lines of their songs that have spoken so loudly and clearly to me for years and at so many different stages in my life.
SET SPOILER WARNING
Many were surprised to hear the band play their Bob Dylan cover, "Desolation Row" mid-set, and I think everyone was amazed when the band closed with "The Kids From Yesterday" then came back out to perform "Vampire Money" as an encore! I know I was certainly surprised by the ending! It was perfect. The perfect ending to Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys just so happens to be the perfect ending of a live MCR show!
I do not remember their set in order. However, they played the following songs that I can remember:
“Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)”
”Thank You For The Venom”
”Welcome To The Black Parade”
”House Of Wolves”
”The Ghost Of You”
“The Only Hope for Me is You”
”I’m Not Okay (I Promise)”
”The Kids From Yesterday”
If I remember any other details, I will post them later!
More from the show:
Photos from the show from Time Out Chicago | Photo from nuinavariel on deviantArt in which you can see me [bottom left] | Q101 Meet-And-Greet Photos!