My Chemical Romance
with Circa Survive, The Architects
House of Blues, Orlando, FL • May 18, 2011
If you had told me five years ago that I’d be looking forward to seeing a My Chemical Romance concert, I’d have laughed. Yet here I was, knee deep in a sold-out audience at Orlando’s House of Blues, anticipating the appearance of a band that I once thought only those born after 1987 could stomach.
What can I say? Their latest album, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, got my attention enough to venture another listen to their back catalog and, much to my surprise, I found a couple of joyful nuggets.
Opening up, on this, the World Contamination Tour, was a band it took no effort whatsoever for me to enjoy. The Architects are a hard working, blue-collar-sounding punk band out of Missouri who marry simply scrumptious melodic punk songs with a positivity that is as genuine as it is rare in the genre.
“Life’s too short. Do what you love,” the sweat-soaked and charismatic singer/guitarist Brandon Phillips advised before closing the book on a stirring set that surely sold a few copies of their latest album, The Hard Way.
While The Architects are in the position of making new fans, Circa Survive have a built-in fan base that swoops into their shows already knowing that they’re a phenomenal live band. Their place on this bill was icing on the cake for many.
Anthony Green, with his nearly operatically able vocals, demoniacally animated facial expressions, and possessed-by-the-music spasms onstage, is the kind of front man one hopes for but doesn’t often get. You don’t even have to be down with Circa Survive’s sound — which somehow pulls off a heavy progressive rock fusion with high range screams and much emoting — to appreciate their talent as a band. It’s in the way that they play, the mood that they create with their lighting and — most of all — in the way that Green moves. Even when he’s jokingly calling for the danglers of an elated crowd surfer (“Bring me his balls!” he commanded, mid-song), he’s fantastically charming.
Thirty minutes of Circa Survive is just enough of an adventure ride to rev up the masses for My Chemical Romance’s first Orlando show in several years. A modest stage, its only set design the lighting, greets the colorful cast of band members.
“The last time we played here I stage dived and everyone moved… I think I broke a hip,” a svelte and bright red-haired Gerward Way joked with the crowd after unleashing the beginning fury of a setlist tailor-made to tickle every level of My Chemical Romance fans’ taste buds.
The newer, more palpably pop songs off of their latest Rob Cavallo-produced album (the guy who worked on virtually every Green Day record, including Dookie and American Idiot) shone like beacons of hope amidst the angstier songs from the band’s earlier years. “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na),” and “Vampire Money” warmed up the already scorching audience, while those “classic” My Chemical Romance songs like “I’m Not Okay (I Promise),” “Helena” and “Give ‘Em Hell, Kid” stirred up all sorts of bitter memories of being a teenage outcast for the more pasty fans who still sported eye makeup.
For the second act of the once gothically bent rock band, “The Black Parade” and the quirky, burleseque-y “Mama” touched upon the conceptual side of their illustrious career. There was even a power ballad moment in the form of the slow-dance-begging, “Summertime” to soothe the romantics in attendance.
Throughout it all, the fans could hardly breathe through their excitement — literally, for some. Young fans who misjudged just how intensely packed the dance floor would get were being plucked out by their saviors of security faster than you could text “OMG! I <3 MCR!"
In a sweet gesture of empathy, one fan even got brought out onto the stage to sing with the band on the futuristic funked-up dance explosion, “Planetary.”
“Claire’s been getting bullied at school for being different… every one of us here knows what’s it’s like to be different,” Way explained.
A wonderfully exhausting night closed out with a spotlit Gerard Way leading the crowd through a solo rendition of “Cancer,” followed up with a rousing “Bulletproof Heart” that buried any last shred of doubt I may have been holding onto in regard to the legitimacy of My Chemical Romance.