“MCR” blazes in white light against the red-wrapped historic venue, confirming that legendary band My Chemical Romance has once again arrived.
MCR burst onto the scene with punk tunes that weren’t afraid to face anguish and trauma head-on. The band played a huge role in popularizing a new sub-culture of rock in the early 2000’s — emo — with their unflinching lyrics, vocals, and instrumentals. The first night of an impressive five show run at The Kia Forum proves that their legacy lives on, regardless of the band’s disintegration in 2013.
Showtime is announced via giant flamethrower, and the band drowns in red, welcoming us to the gates of goth as “The Foundations of Decay” starts. Lead singer Gerard Way is wrapped in a single spotlight as the venue washes in black. He starts to sing, looking pointedly at his feet. Then, the band rushes into a booming, bombastic roar and the music really starts.
As I look down into the general seating, people with the fortune of being in an aisle throw their heads forward so hard they bend almost completely in half, over and over, hypnotically engrossed in every beat of the iconic venue’s full sound. A few boys in the middle dance and jump back and forth, pounding their fists, then throw up their hands into a sea of applause after every song. Pairs of friends grab each other’s shoulders in recognition, as the third song, “I’m Not Okay,” is met with immediate fanfare.
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In contrast to his gritty, haunting singing voice, Way’s speaking voice is sweet and gentle, earnestly speaking to the audience like they are his close friends: “This is my favorite room in the world.” This may very well be true and not typical rock star location-based pandering; MCR used this location and even showed the Forum sign at the end of their 2019 video “A summoning…”
Guitar swims through the air for “Na Na Na,” introducing one of their better known songs with gusto. Way throws his hands for the ad lib chants in the song, and they boom from each part of the crowd he throws his hand toward, as if the audience is under his command. It’s truly heartwarming to see.
In an astonishing (but not unwelcome) twist, MCR plays two of their arguably most popular songs back to back. They usually change their set each night, so this particular occurrence is a rarity. “Welcome To The Black Parade” comes in with a piano intro soft enough that not everyone detects it at once. Scatters of the audience start to realize, one by one, like the start of rain. Then, Way sings, “when I was…”, and thus ensues the downpour. “Teenagers” starts and finishes with the precision and swagger of a band who has sung this song more times than anyone can imagine. Whether it’s due to their hiatus springing a new zest into their old songs, or just a genuine love for their entire catalog and fans, they take their oldest, most mainstream songs and perform them with a sincerity and care that’s not very anti-establishment of them, but is very noteworthy and respectable.
“I love this room,” Way repeated. He talked about how many memories the band had made there, and how appreciative he was to be there again. After the palpable excitement of the band, the amount of sweat and screams Way so charismatically left on stage, and the fellow screams of years long appetites being satiated at last, the audience will forever agree.