Venue: Kool Haus, Toronto, ON, Canada
Date: 15 October, 2009
In one word: Firecracker
Arriving late at this show – missing support acts Paper Route and Paramore’s new Fuelled By Ramen label mates The Swellers – it quickly became apparent to me that I was a visible minority inside the Kool Haus; just by being an adult. Helping to raise the average age inside the venue were all the mums and dads who were chaperoning their kids, but the majority of the crowd at this sold-out show were kids. For a moment I considered the possibility that if all these minors were to be suitably revved up by watching their idols on stage that they might just Riot! and usurp their chaperones. Alas, there wasn’t a riot, but there were a lot of beaming faces as the tweens and teens bopped to one of the biggest bands of their generation.
Paramore came on stage at 9.15pm, with lead guitarist Josh Farro playing in an intro that kick-started the crowd. Hayley Williams bounded onto stage to open up with Ignorance, the first single off of Paramore’s latest album Brand New Eyes. Hayley Williams recent struggles with laryngitis has been of the most talked about stories in music – Williams had difficulties on the first night of this new tour in Ponoma, CA on September 29th, leading to the band to do some rescheduling before recommenging the tour on October 10th. This break seems to have done the trick because tonight in Toronto Williams showed no signs of struggling.
Hayley Williams is a firecracker. Widely regarded as one of the sexiest rock chicks on the planer – and I’ll concur, she is absolutely stunning – but equally attractive is her boundless enthusiasm as a performer and frontwoman. With her microphone covered in safety tape, hardcore style, Williams made full use of its long snaking cord as she bounced around the stage with rampant energy: shoulders back, legs bouncing on her Nike’s for extra air, with her head banging, hair flailing wild, and all the while leaning in to the stage edge to eyeball her adoring fans. Williams ain’t no cardboard cutout popstar, she’s the real deal.
The energy that Paramore put into their music is exciting to see and it has been a big factor in their rise to the top. But another big thing that I feel is noteworthy is the special relationship that Paramore share with their fans – every band needs fans, but maintaining and building a fanbase doesn’t seem to be a chore for Paramore and in fact something that they make a wholehearted genuine effort with. Its true that most bands are appreciative of their fans – there aren’t actually that many moody and arrogant rock stars – but some bands just have a better communication and relationship with fans than others. Hayley Williams seemed completely sincere when she thanked her fans in Toronto for all their support and well-wishes following her recent throat problems.
Paramore barreled their way through a set which was a mix of old and new material, with the words to every song resonationg throughout the crowd. One of the biggest numbers was Decode, a song that helped catapult Paramore into the conciousnesses of even more through the attention it got as being part of the soundtrack to the original Twillight film that came out last year. (And as irritating as I find all the Twilight twaddle in the media, I’ve seen the tracklisting for Twilight New Moon and it’s a pretty damn impressive, including Radiohead and B.R.M.C.)
As I stood back at the edge of the crowd and watched Paramore close their set, a few thoughts were running through my head. I think my imagination was sparked by a sublimanal message from Hayley Williams’ T-shirt which read “more than this…”. I couldn’t help but wonder if Paramore will ever tire of playing PG-rated shows to their Hot Topic/West 49-shopping audience. I mean no disrepsect to the band or their fans with this statement, rather I just think its natural for a band to progress or mature. The band are the cream of the crop of the pop punk and ’emo’ rock scenes that remain so popular in America and beyond, but eventually every movement in music comes to an end – or at least gets forgotten about for 10 years before being re-invtented. Rest assured, the tides will change, they always do, and whatever happens I’d fancy Paramore to still be around. For now they remain among the leaders of their scene and deservingly so.
© Brian Banks
(click thumbnails to enlarge)
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