My Chemical Romance, Neon Trees and The Architects at Terminal 5, 4.22.11
I must write about the line, as it was the most epic clusterfuck I have ever been party to. Because the sidewalk on the side of the street where the venue is is closed for repairs, they lined us up on the other side of the road. In this shady part of town, there’s merely a long tunnel and then the West Side Highway. There were probably five hundred people in line by five (doors were at 7) and at least a thousand by the time doors opened. To try to keep the line from stretching too far down the access road to the highway, security asked us to bunch up and fill the sidewalk. So people started running. In the successive three “bunches”, all sense of who had arrived then was lost. I just hope the poor kids who stayed overnight got up front.
The Architects: They begin with a long Spanish overture, like we’re about to see a play about Zorro instead of straight classic punk. Choosing this band and Neon Trees is a good way to show the evolution of MCR, but I worry that this opener is lulling the hardcore old Jersey punk fans into a false sense of security. The lead Architect rocks harder than I’ve ever seen anyone rock a baby blue guitar.
They ask if we want to dance, then proceed to play a track so rockabilly that I half expect it to be a Brian Setzer cover. Their set spans the gap between The Misfits and Gaslight Anthem, with some songs that are almost country and some that are definite punk. But they’re fron Kansas City. And they’re wildly charming. CDs will be purchased.
Neon Trees: The people behind us are loudly making fun of lead singer Tyler’s antics, his deep back bends and his high kicks. It’s like they don’t know that Gerard Way is on next. Tyler’s mom is here and he makes all wave at her. She knows all the words and has Kate Gosselin’s haircut and I love her.
I really think Elaine is the best female drummer rock has seen since… well, since forever. They make the kinda weird decision to end with “Farther Down”, a track that’s not on their brilliant full-length Habits and is kind of a slow-jam. Still, I was impressed. And I danced, which is the important thing.
My Chemical Romance: Frank Iero is aging backwards. He’s wearing a pullover and a collared shirt and he looks about 15. He looks like the well-meaning neighborhood kid that Mrs.Way pays $20 an hour to watch her kids while she goes to the grocery store. Then again, instead of his “trust me” in the middle of “I’m Not Okay,” he spits at the mic.
There is a spotlight pointed at Ray Toro’s groin. We are calling this the Katie Spot.
I will say that this band seems as loving of their fans as they’ve ever been. Gerard takes the time to thank the new fans, the old fans, and the fanclub.
Touring keyboard star James Dewees gets his keyboard solo as always, but it’s shorter. Gerard takes this opportunity to lie down.
I’ve said before that new album standout “Planetary (Go!)” is obviously a lost Fischerspooner track, but it doesn’t occur to me until right now that “Destroya” is clearly a late-90s Nine Inch Nails b-side.
The sharp turn this band has taken is most clearly seen when they play their very first single, “Vampires Will Never Hurt You.” It’s a thrasher, chaotic and not bound to the conventions of popular music. I’m not entirely sure there are verses. It’s almost the same four bars over and over, the sort of thing that is the bread and butter of scuzzy punk bands, but so divorced from the precise bombast of new-era MCR that this is essentially a cover. And not a cover that the band seems particularly jazzed to play.
Even though the line was bullshit and the floor was a mess (the most active pit I’ve seen in quite some time; I can’t believe no one was injured), the band brought the energy. Plus, they brought openers who actually warmed the crowd up, getting us progressively more amped until the headliner started. It reminded me what the point of openers is: to stretch before your marathon. And shit, at the end of a My Chem show, it feels a little like you’ve run a marathon. But at least they ran it with you.