MONUMENTOUR featuring Paramore, Fall Out Boy & New Politics Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion August 1, 2014
Haters gonna hate, but Paramore and Fall Out Boy make great rock music. Any band that gained notoriety during the post-pop-punk-emo boom of the mid-2000s has been pigeonholed into a very specific category -- namely, much of the general public doesn't consider them to be credible rock and roll.
Fall Out Boy has certainly experienced a great deal of this backlash, despite continuing to mature as a group and output good music. Many of the bands of that era could not grow past it; Paramore and Fall Out Boy, who are co-headlining this summer's MONUMENTOUR, are both talented exceptions. Touring together was a wise and logical choice.
Friday, Paramore were up after Danish greenhorns New Politics, and delivered 14 songs' worth of confetti-laden fun as spritely lead singer Hayley Williams again reminded the audience why she's eons beyond her contemporaries. A master at audience participation and performance, she had the crowd in the palm of her tiny hand from the moment the band started with last winter's radio anthem, "Still Into You." As the song came to a close, confetti launched for the first of three total times in the set, and naturally the audience went bananas.
Williams herself is a dynamic ball of energy and talent; the only comparable front woman of the past 20 years is probably Gwen Stefani. Suffering from a sore throat Friday evening, Williams never let it show, artfully making wise choices when to let the audience sing for her. As the set went along, her voice actually got stronger. Fan favorite "Decode" was sung beautifully, and "The Only Exception" gave the crowd collective goosebumps. "Last Hope" was vocally impeccable.
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There is much to be said for Paramore's light show as well. Whoever is running their lights is amazing; Friday made three Houston shows in one year, all better than the last. Also adding to the fun-loving feel of the band were guitarist Taylor York and bassist Jeremy Davis, who pulled out their signature move of flipping over one anothers' backs while playing. Davis' bass work sounded particularly impressive on "Brick by Boring Brick."
After playing "Misery Business," which pulled audience member and megafan Melanie on the stage to sing, and closing the set with current radio regular "Ain't It Fun," Paramore's set concluded with zero questions as to why the group continues to grow a rabid fanbase and increase in popularity. In short, they are a good band.
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Fall Out Boy's set was a top-to-bottom rock and roll performance, opening with a bang of pyrotechnics. Taking a page from Paramore's book, this was the most impressively lit FOB tour to date. Seven screens all showcasing different band members, great lights, and fire? Sounds like a rock show.
Lead singer Patrick Stump, an underrated talent, employed both his unique use of vibrato and a strong falsetto. Few male rock leads can successfully make this happen, but "The Take Over, the Breaks Over" was a great vocal showcase, and "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race" got the audience into full-on rock mode.
Pete Wentz, the group's bassist, heartthrob and tabloid victim, commanded the crowd with just the right amount of arrogance, a lesson learned over time. "Alone Together" was the perfect platform for him to get the audience to sing along, which didn't stop for the rest of the show. "Sugar, We're Goin Down," the song that originally broke FOB into the mainstream, resonated with the audience just as much as when it was released; "Dance, Dance" reminded the audience of their snarky and clever lyrical abilities.
A formidable "We are the Champions" interlude and closing the regular set with the "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark" was enough to make the crowd shriek for the two-song encore they got, which included favorite "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs." FOB fans are thankful for their emo memories, but also thankful that FOB continues on to make more great rock.
The only real downside to the show was the logistics. Starting a concert at 7 p.m. sharp in The Woodlands is a challenge, to say the very least. Between traffic, parking and getting into the show itself, long lines were all around. Apparently security was instructed to do a "deep search," which added a considerable amount of time to get in.
Due to this, many people missed most (or all) of opener New Politics, unfortunate for both the band and the concertgoers: New Politics sounded even better live than they do in their recordings, and had more people been present, they likely would have collected a slew of new Texas-based fans Friday night. Their best-known song, "Harlem," was a particular treat.
Personal Bias: People should spend less time trying to define rock music and more time enjoying it. Life is way better that way.
The Crowd: The largest I've seen at Cynthia Woods, ever. The show was completely packed with a diverse crowd of all shapes, sizes, ages, and races.
Overseen In the Crowd: Three ladies were seated in the row next to me, aged from 40 to about 70. Based on their tiny physiques and short, reddish hair, I had a sneaking suspicion that they were at the show to see a particular person perform. I was right: Hayley Williams' aunt, grandmother, and great-aunt were an absolute delight as rowmates during Paramore. I especially loved when I said to the group, "She sounds great!" and her grandmother, beaming with pride, said "That's my granddaughter."
Random Notebook Dump: It's amusing to me that at this point, regardless of the actual concert, everyone dresses like they are going to Coachella.
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