Paramore, Metric, Hellogoodbye Cynthia Woods Pavilion October 27, 2013
Well, they've done it again.
On the way to Cynthia Woods Pavilion Sunday night, I realized that it had been about six months to the day since I reviewed Paramore at Bayou Music Center in April. Back then, the band's opener was rougher and more experimental, and the crowd was just learning Paramore's new songs as the band favored older material.
In six short months, a lot has happened in Paramore's world. Their self-titled album debuted at No. 1, their tour has been selling out across the country, and "Still Into You" just hit No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. Sunday night's show was considerably more arena-ready and injected with the confidence a group gets from reestablishing themselves as a bona fide rock band and not a flash-in-the-pan teenybopper pop-punk group.
Paramore started off with a literal bang as a huge curtain dropped, exposing bassist Jeremy Davis, guitarist Taylor York, and singer Hayley Williams. Opening with "Grow Up" and following with "Fast In My Car," both from their newest album, it was clear Paramore no longer needs to rest on the laurels of their previous hits, and more importantly -- as all bands with longevity need -- have now created a large enough song base to sustain touring for six months at a time.
Williams is able to get the crowd to participate in absolutely everything she does from the very start of the show: before she has formally addressed the crowd, she has everyone singing and screaming in an extremely successful audience sing-off that led seamlessly into third song, "That's What You Get." Nice little trick, Hayley.
"Decode" was next, made famous by Twilight. When this came on, the entire audience flipped out... and not just the vampire and teen-wolf fans. Afterward, Williams finally greeted the crowd to more waves of screams.
At this point I realize that as long as this band has fans coming to watch them, they are going to continue to get better and better. To quote Paramore themselves, they've got nothing but time on their hands. It's exciting to watch the evolution of a group that has managed to weather the pop-punk-emo storm they were once lumped into. Paramore is a rock band.
I still remember the first time I saw them perform. It was back in August of 2008 at a radio-station private performance. Despite the set being only three songs long and extremely stripped down, my mouth was agape the whole time. I remember thinking that Williams was one of the most exciting and talented singers I had seen in years, and that I hoped she would stick around so I could watch her career grow. Every time I see Paramore perform, I have this same experience. She truly reminds me of a much harder-rocking Pat Benatar: 100 pounds of pure power and voice.
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Following "Interlude: I'm Not Angry Anymore," pulled straight from the album and played on the ukulele, the show rolled on with "Now," the first song released off Paramore. As Williams sang, "There's a time and a place to die, but this ain't it," the audience could see what's different with Paramore now.
With Davis and York, their solidified lineup seems to fit much better than the previous one with the now-departed founding Farro brothers. Now they feel fueled by more freedom, confidence, and obvious camaraderie, on another level. The three work well together -- they're funny and engaging and cute; the boys sometimes do random choreography with their guitars.
Three slower songs played in a row: "Daydreaming," "When It Rains," and "Last Hope." Williams, seated at a keyboard, still managed to pull the audience to participate in everything she did, so there was never the dreaded "ballad lull" sometimes felt at concerts. "Last Hope" was a joy. Williams explained that it was one of those "perfect songs" that they all sat down and clicked and wrote in five minutes. I'm not surprised. It's extremely effortless and honest and relatable.
"Brick By Boring Brick," "Interlude: Holiday," and "Crushcrushcrush" came next, which included a huge audience dance break when Williams got every member of the audience to stand get their groove on.
During "Ain't It Fun" the band brought out the choir from Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and Davis had a nice bass break. Hit "The Only Exception" was next, a sincere love song that manages to be sweet and appeal to a younger audience but has more complexity than your typical Top 40 Selena Gomez ballad dreck. Next, "In the Mourning" included a snippet of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide," followed by "Pressure," during which Davis and York acted like guitar heroes and Davis rolled over York's back while playing.
Breakout song "Misery Business" rounded out the regular set, as Williams sang like it was the first time she had ever performed it in front of an audience. This song still kicks an insane amount of ass. The band brought up audience member, "Rebecca," who got to sing the breakdown all by herself as the audience cheered her on. It was a great moment. Williams hugged Rebecca and the group exited the stage.
The crowd screamed during a very short encore and less than two minutes later, Paramore returned to the stage, thanking the crowd profusely, and opening with "Part II." Next came "Interlude: Moving On," and then, of course, the sticky-sweet radio hit, "Still Into You." An infectious song about crushing on someone you are already with, this song explains my feelings about Paramore: after all this time, I'm still into you. And quite happily, I'm not the only one.
Review continues on the next page.
Personal Bias: Yes, Yes, Yes. Mind once again blown. Rock. And. Roll. This is what Paramore does. There is not a front woman in rock music right now who can compare to Hayley Williams.
Well, How Were the Openers? I'm pretty biased when it comes to Hellogoodbye. I've loved them for many years and I'm surprised they've never completely broken into mainstream popularity. They make cute geek-rock that walks the line between indie and pop and is perfect for people who like fun, catchy, melody-driven music. Their super-short set left me wanting more.
Metric was fine. The music sounded great and the songs were okay, but to me, Metric makes for good background music while doing something else. Singer Emily Haines kind of talk-sings the whole time and made me wish she would open up her voice more (when she did, she sounded quite nice). But the band certainly got the crowd pumped up. By the end of Metric's set, people were on their feet and screaming.
The Crowd: The LOUDEST and most fervently engaged I've seen in Houston by a country mile. All manner of ages, but definitely a large core group of young people. Some people wore Halloween costumes, which I totally dig.
Overheard In the Crowd: I fell in love with this girl in a Pikachu outfit. She had come to see Paramore, but had clearly taken the time to "research" her openers and was prepared to sing along to a few songs. I used to do this all the time when I first started going to shows back in the day. It's awesome to see a budding lifelong music fan.
Random Notebook Dump: If you kick over someone's full beer, you should offer to replace it, even for vanity's sake. I'm far too polite to take you up on it, but pretend you are polite and at least ask. Jussssayin'.
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