Last Night: Paramore At The Woodlands

Paramore, Tegan and Sara, New Found Glory Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion September 8, 2010

Concerts on Wednesdays are a strange ordeal. What's even stranger are concerts that begin at 6 p.m. in The Woodlands, especially when their target audiences are probably just getting out of their after-school activities right when the doors open. But then again, the earlier they start, the earlier they end, and most of the crowd had school in the morning, so it kind of makes sense.

Wednesday night, Aftermath made our way out to the Woodlands for Paramore, Tegan and Sara and New Found Glory, two of whom put on solid performances while the other closely resembled an unsigned garage band with a lot of potential.

Maybe it was the awful acoustics of Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, but New Found Glory's entire set floundered in mediocrity, and the crowd wasn't too receptive either. Lead vocalist Jordan Pundik wore a shirt reading "Pop Punks Not Dead" during the show, and we couldn't stop staring at the space between the "K" and the "S" in "Punks" that should have bore an apostrophe. Maybe we're anal, but hey... everyone's odd in their own way.

New Found Glory's performance wasn't terrible, and wasn't even bad really, but it never came together; the sound was far from professional. It all seemed muddled together without any finishing touches. But Cynthia Woods was still pretty vacant at this point, so the poor sound quality mixed with the emptiness may have only further worsened the concert-going experience.

Hell, Aftermath saw Kanye West at the Pavilion a few years back, and he dropped the mike and walked offstage 30 seconds into his first song. Side note: What a dick.

While performing "Don't Let Her Pull You Down," a few of the band's lackeys held up signs reading 'DON'T,' 'LET' and 'HER' on the left, middle and right sides of the stage, respectively. But what really got us smiling (and the crowd laughing) was when the signs were replaced with 'BUY,' 'OUR' and 'SHIRTZ.' We assume the third sign originally read "shit," but in an attempt to keep the concert PG-rated, they made a last-minute change. Just speculation, of course.

And no disrespect to chubby dudes - we're not the slimmest in the crowd either - but taking off your shirt onstage is usually only considered 'rock star' when it gets the ladies going and/or gets the guys jealous. This wasn't quite the case with bassist Ian Grushka, who let it all hang out for the last half of NFG's set.

Tegan and Sara's light show, which seemed to be as much the focal point of their performance as the music, added to the ambiance of the group's performance, which was strong but never quite took off, either.

What's most impressive about these two ladies is the ability of both of them to command the performance, together and separately. Their songwriting technique, we've read, is as follows: One begins writing a song, sends it to the other and both work out the kinks and harmonies. It's impressive, then, that, as the two perform, the finished product comes across like peanut butter and jelly: Good by themselves, but fantastic when put together.

Tegan got a roar out of the crowd when she talked about the misconceptions many people have about the citizens of the great state of Texas as boots-n-cowboy-hat-wearin', horse-ridin' country folk.

She even mentioned her recent obsession with the TV show Friday Night Lights and said that she was considering moving to the Lone Star State. This may have just been an attempt to excite the crowd (and it worked), but we wouldn't mind having her. She's talented and sweet, and we 'ppreciate that round here, yessiree.

Then Paramore took the stage, and the crowd went absolutely wild. The curtains dropped, and with them a dozen or so light bulbs, which flickered on and swung above the heads of the fans closest to the stage.

Vocalist Haley Williams commanded the crowd, bringing everyone to their feet and coaxing the crowd into singing along to most of her songs. She sure can sing, but Williams danced around so much for most of the show that anyone unfamiliar with the Nashville band wouldn't have known about her talent.

It wasn't until about eight songs in, as they performed "Decode," both the best-executed and best-received song of the group's set that Williams stood still in the middle of the stage. It gave the song an intimate feel, and her voice really shone through.

Then lead guitarist Josh Farro and Williams took to the left side of the stage, and an acoustic cover of Loretta Lynn's "You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)" followed. We were a little shocked and skeptical, but the final product was perfect, polished and professional-sounding.

"We promise, by the end of this song, you will love country music," Williams said as the crowd, who had already decided they would love it, screamed. As if there weren't enough country fans in Texas already, Williams may have earned the genre a few thousand more.

The reduced Paramore performed a few more acoustic songs before returning to a full-band setup. "You still with us?" Williams asked, rhetorically as the rest of the group re-set up shop onstage. "Let's get to steppin', because I am so ready for this."

Then the concert continued, fans raged and the lights eventually dimmed. Aftermath may not be the biggest Paramore fan, but Williams has enough stage presence for the entire band, the rest of whom have swagger of their own, too.

Overall, the set could have been stronger if Williams hadn't jumped around quite so much, but everything else was solid. And as Aftermath left, we didn't have to deal with too much traffic either, because most of those in attendance seemed to have traveled with their parents, who picked them up afterward.

And they all drive slow, so we zipped past them onto the freeway.

Personal Bias: We listened to New Found Glory in middle school before they were popular. How are they still around!?

The Crowd: So, so, so young. And drunk? A few female friends of ours said there was a woman vomiting/passed out in the bathroom for over an hour. We hope it wasn't one of these kids' moms.


Random Notebook Dump: When Tegan and Sara started performing "Walking With a Ghost," we definitely thought they were covering the White Stripes. Nope. Turns out they wrote the song back in '04. It definitely ruined a paragraph we wrote about each band performing a cover. C'est la vie.

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