“Forget the bullshit that’s going on outside of here for two hours and be here with us.” lead singer Hayley Williams of Paramore proclaimed to the packed Barclays Center crowd in New York.
A little over a year ago, Paramore’s fifth album, After Laughter was released. For a band that is always known for being transparent and honest with their emotional state, the album couldn’t have been more timely. If you take a look around, things seem very heavy. Whether it’s with the current political discourse or the amount of noise that plays within our heads via social media, it feels like being in the deep end of the pool struggling for air.
Paramore’s fans, (New York fans, in particular) who had been with them since their first show at CBGC’s in September 2005 have grown with the band adjacent to their own metamorphosis. After Laughter as an album has a certain duality to it. You can dance with the 80’s like synth melodies with songs like “Hard Times” and you can get lost in your emotions like Williams during the performance of “Idle Worship.” The beauty and the madness is that life is a dual sided coin.
The night started off with fellow Tennessee singer/songwriter Sophie Allison, better known as Soccer Mommy. The six song set was enough to showcase her brand of indie/lo-fi rock with songs like “Last Girl” and “Your Dog.” Following was Foster The People who began to bring up the tempo in the crowd. Lead singer Mark Foster shuffled across the crowd as the 808’s of ‘Loyal Like Sid & Nancy’ rang throughout the arena. The band kept a level field between the more disco-infused 2016’s Sacred Hearts Club and alternative rock infused songs from 2011’s Torches.
Music is an art form that transforms into anything you want it to be. An escape. A pick me up. An expression of love. For Paramore’s hour and a half set, it was an evolution in maturity. A successful attempt to dance through the pain. The band went through songs like “Still Into You,” “Rose Colored Boy,” and “That’s What You Get” in energetic fashion. It was almost as if Williams was stomping out the demons that she spoke about on the previous album. This show was a ritual and in the band playing, it was a celebration of all they have been through at this point.
In the middle of the show, the band was able to slow things down a bit and switch to a brief acoustic setting. A cover of Drake‘s ‘Passionfruit’ and “Misguided Ghosts” were performed. Even though it was released on the 2009 album, Brand New Eyes, it’s almost amazing to think how the words of Misguided Ghosts still reverberate through the theme of After Laughter. The unfortunate part of growing up is that some of your fears can grow with you. Through confronting them, begets a reward of strength.
“You guys have watched us grow up and when I think of our younger selves, I want to hug those people,” Williams stated. Growing older is a very scary and trying process. Much like the acoustic version of “26” that was performed that night, pain can be purposeful. It can be a cruel motivator.
By the end of the night, the entire arena erupted into an all out party. Paramore invited Stranger Things’ very own, Gaten Matarazzo and his sisters, Sabrina and Carmen to sing the last part of “Misery Business.” The playfulness of “Ain’t In Fun” going into the encore of “Told You So” and “Hard Times” made it feel like it was a conclusion to this particular era of Paramore. To be honest, this concert could have gone on for another half hour and nobody would stop dancing.
We’ve seen this band start as driven kids on 2005’s All We Know Is Falling to the tenacious, fight back attitude of 2013’s self titled album. Williams mentioned the correlation between inexperience, ignorance, and empathy. Honestly, we need a little bit more empathy. What better than music where you have people from all different range of experiences able to come together and forget the differences that separate them. It’s the feelings that make us the same. As music and experiences continue to teach Paramore, their transparency through their music continues to serve as a teacher to us.