Show Review: My Chemical Romance with Neon Trees and Architects at The Fox Oakland, 3/31/11

by Marie Carney on April 2, 2011

Fists in the air for My Chemical Romance

MCR!!!!  That’s all my fangirl heart was screaming while walking towards The Fox and the hoards of people, clad mostly in black, slowly making their way in to the theater.  Of course, I didn’t have a ticket, just a photo pass, but trivial details will not keep me from a show!  After a brief panic the ticket was procured and I made my way in and was amazed by the crowd already formed on the floor. By the excitement radiating through the room I could tell that this, the fourth time I’ve seen My Chemical Romance, was going to be the best.

Before the first opener, Architects, even took the stage the floor was so packed that each time someone moved it would send a wave through the crowd.  From the balcony it was really fun to watch.  The band?  Oh yeah, them.  I talked to a random girl at the water fountain and we both gave it a sideways thumb.  So did one of my friends ushering the show, so it’s unanimous!  Later another friend said to me “this sounds like Danzig” and I said “It would be much better if it was Danzig.”  And that’s really all I remember about them between the fangirl anticipation and the non-excitement of the music.  Sorry guys.  I heard a lot of cheering though, so some people must have given them more than a sideways thumb.

Architects

When the next band, Neon Trees, came on I managed to, at least briefly, let go of my fangirl impatience and just enjoy watching the show.  Frontman Tyler Glenn was a rockstar running around the stage and engaging the audience.  The music was upbeat, tight and extremely like-able with that retro 80’s new wave feel that is oh so popular these days.  I’m not sure how I’d feel about it on an album, but down front in the photo pit, with that amazing crowd screaming and energized behind me, they were great.  Of course, it helped that every member of the band played 100% and they each had their own charismatic way about them, which is what’s the most important to me when it comes to a live band; that each member is present and giving it.  Neon Trees had that in spades.

Neon Trees

I went in to the photo pit early and impatiently started waiting for My Chem to come out.  After a girl yelled at me “How do I get your job!?!”  I started talking to the predominately female front row.  It amazed me to find out most of them had been there waiting in line all day, and one girl (the shouter) had been there since 8 the night before!  Holy fangirl win!  It made me a little mournful for my younger days when I would have been those girls.  Though back in my day security didn’t give you water, but here they had many flats of water bottles to give out.  In my experience as a crushed front row girl, if you were lucky, the band members would throw water on you (there’s nothing like being baptised by Damon Albarn).  But even with all the water people were getting pulled out of the crowd up to two minutes before My Chemical Romance went on.  Must have been some kind of crazy crush in there.  Or maybe they were wusses as security joked.

When My Chemical Romance took the stage I felt like one of those screaming girls in old videos of The Beatles, but managed to keep it on the inside.  Outside I was *almost* cool photographer girl until I heard the first few notes of “Na Na Na” and the lights went up and my insides split in two; not knowing whether to jump up and down and scream or calmly take pictures, many, many pictures.  The pictures won out, but fangirl was appeased by singing along, loudly enough that the other photographers gave me weird looks (when I noticed them at all).  During “Planetary (Go!)” people were jumping so hard I thought I would bounce up off the floor.  Then they made me leave the photo pit and go to the back and I had some sort of crazy existential crisis.  If only I had gotten there at 8 the night before…

But enough about me, you came here to read about a My Chemical Romance show!  I’ve noticed from other times I’ve seen them that they are a band that feeds off the crowd’s energy more than any other band I’ve seen.  If they perceive a lackluster crowd singer Gerard Way is full of insults (and sometimes saliva) to hurl into the crowd and the whole band just kind of stands back and goes through the motions.  But when the crowd is good, like it was at the Fox, it is like watching a whole other band.  Gerard is still full of violent energy on stage, but no one is getting spit on, well, maybe a little bit, but it is with love.

Gerard Way after blowing a kiss to the audience

Overall, My Chemical Romance was a tour de force.  Guitarist Ray Toro ripped through his solos like a madman while guitarist Frank Iero jumped around stage like a hyper kid, falling down and jumping into the crowd, all while never missing a chord.  Bassist Mikey Way was fierce, like the punk rock supermodel of bass players, pounding out the bass and holding it all together.  During all this Gerard ran around the stage, singing, screaming, posing and falling to his knees.  Everywhere you looked there was something to see.  The band was rounded out with touring musicians on keyboards and drums, though I only had eyes for the band and really couldn’t tell you much about them.  Everyone knows there’s only four members in My Chemical Romance these days, so I can’t say it mattered much.  The sound was good, the band was tight, and everyone was there to have a good time.

They played songs off all their albums and it was nice to see the crowd singing along to almost the whole set, the only noticeable exception being “Vampires Will Never Hurt You” from the band’s first album.  But people seemed to know everything else, singles and album tracks, new and old, though I’d venture to say “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” and “The Black Parade” were the big crowd pleasers, though “Famous Last Words” and “Helena” were hot on their heels.  For me personally, I loved the encore of  “Cancer” with Gerard alone on stage in the dark, keyboard accompaniment only, lighters lifted up by the audience.  Even though it is a standard part of the set it still felt personal and connected, though it was even more personal for me, March 31st being the birthday of my brother who we lost to leukemia six years ago.  I can’t say I didn’t cry a little and I will say it was great to sing that song with all those people right up to my brother.

For the whole night the energy just kept building and building until me (me!), with my camera and everything, couldn’t help but to go into the pit.  It was one of those moments where you’re in the right room with the right people on just the right night.  Musical magic.

Setlist:

Na Na Na
Thank You For the Venom
Planetary (Go!)
Hang ‘Em High
Sing
Vampire Money
Mama
The Only Hope For Me Is You
House of Wolves
Summertime
I’m Not Okay (I Promise)
Famous Last Words
Destroya
I Don’t Love You Interlude (maybe?)
The Black Parade
Teenagers
Vampires Will Never Hurt You
Helena

Encore

Cancer
Bulletproof Heart

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