Words and Photos by Lori Gutman
It’s not every day fans are more than willing to wait outside for twenty-four hours just to get a coveted barricade spot for their favorite band. But when that band is Paramore, all bets are off, with fans often queuing up the night before. While Paramore are no strangers to Manhattan’s many venues, ranging from CBGB to Madison Square Garden, somehow, the band has never played in Brooklyn… until now. On their fifth tour of the After Laughter cycle, Paramore found themselves headlining the Barclays Center, performing to approximately nineteen thousand people.
Soccer Mommy opened up the show, delivering a powerful albeit calm twenty-five minute set, which included “Henry,” “Last Girl,” and “Your Dog.” After that, Foster The People livened up the crowd, making up in energy for what they lacked in lighting. Supporting their 2017 release, Sacred Hearts Club, they kicked off with “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy” and “Pay the Man” before playing some oldies as well as a cover of The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop.” To no surprise, they finished up with “Pumped Up Kicks,” which truly got the arena dancing and amped for what was to come.
With the release of After Laughter a year ago, Hayley Williams, Zac Farro, and Taylor York bared their souls in the music. To no surprise, they do the same on stage every night. Coming out in near-darkness to the opening notes of “Grudges,” the band went full-out from the first chorus, and didn’t stop for the rest of the night. As they followed up with “Still Into You” and “Rose Colored Boy,” the positive energy in the arena was almost palpable; everyone had huge smiles on their faces as they danced along.
Halfway through, the five-minute intermission gave fans a chance to collect themselves before Paramore came back out for the acoustic portion of their set. Consisting of a soulful cover of Drake’s “Passionfruit,” “Misguided Ghosts,” and the heartbreaking “26,” it gave us all the feels: happiness, heartache, and love and admiration for the band pouring their hearts out in front of us. Singing all the words, it was hard to refrain from shedding a few tears, especially when Williams went silent, metaphorically giving the crowd the mic. The echo of “Hold onto hope if you got it, don’t let it go for nobody” resonating through the arena was deafening and comforting all at once.
Interspersed throughout the hour-and-a-half-long set, songs like “Crushcrushcrush” and “Misery Business” took fans back to the Riot! days, reminiscing on the time when many of them fell in love with Paramore in the first place. Bringing someone out on stage for a “Miz Biz” singalong is a long-honored tradition at Paramore’s live shows, and this evening’s special guests were none other than Gaten, Sabrina, and Carmen Matarazzo. Stranger things have happened.
A highlight of the night was the addition of “No Friend,” a mostly instrumental track off of After Laughter. While a four-minute, incredibly dark instrumental performance made it quite difficult for fans to sing along, it gave everyone a much-needed opportunity to breathe while admiring what was happening on the stage in front of them. As guitarist Taylor York rocked his solo with energy and facial expressions to boot, Williams took her moves to the floor before crawling over to drummer Zac Farro while he assisted York in carrying the track along. The uninhibited, almost animalistic, passion that took over was a sight to behold, and not something you typically see outside of sweaty, cramped punk shows in tiny bars and garages.
Many of Paramore’s fans discovered the band during their formative teen years, when they turned to music as a means of escape. Connecting with the lyrics, they found a group of musicians that helped them feel less alone and misunderstood. Over time, these teenagers grew up and transformed, just as their favorite band did too. Although they’re not the same people they were back then, this night proved that their love for Paramore is just as strong now, if not stronger than ever.
Foster The People