It’s been a while since I was in the pit at a concert. I haven’t had the time to devote to standing in line all day to get barricade in a couple years — and as far as I’m concerned, when it comes to Standing Room Only, it’s barricade or bust. So when my good friend Kelsey got early entry to the Paramore show at House of Blues Boston on Wednesday, May 16, I was stoked. We wouldn’t have to wait in line all day! We’d be up front! Woohoo!
I’ve now seen Paramore a total of four times, and every time has been absolutely mind-blowing. The band has a stage presence and energy that’s unparalleled. Lead singer Hayley Williams is a pixie-sized powerhouse who leaves no part of the stage untouched. She prowls around, flirts with her bandmates and the crowd, and brings to life album tracks that are already amazing, but exceed any expectation when performed live.
The show was sold out; tickets were gone ridiculously fast, especially since Paramore haven’t been on a US tour in years. It’s been three years since they were in the greater Boston area — I saw them for the first time at the House of Blues in 2009 and they played the Comcast Center in Mansfield in 2010 (though I saw that tour in Gilford, NH). And Wednesday night’s crowd reflected the same excitement I felt at having the band back and better than ever. For only the second time in my life, I left the pit — it was too crazy and too hot to be just behind the barricade without the stability of it to cling to.
Regardless, I had a fucking fantastic time. Kelsey stayed in the pit until the encore break and then found me, standing on the side of the room near the merch table. What I love about the House of Blues is that it’s a semi-small venue with a sense of intimacy capitalized by the fact that you can see the stage from anywhere in the room. You don’t have to be right in front of the stage (though I still maintain that the barricade is the best place to see almost every show, ever). Despite the fact that I left the pit, I could still see every facial expression Williams, Taylor York and Jeremy Davis made. I could still feel the ridiculous energy coursing through the room. I still lost my voice screaming the lyrics to songs I’ve known for ages, as well as new songs I’ve only just learned.
But let’s back up for a minute. While I was still in the pit, Kitten took the stage. While we were standing in line, we saw the band’s lead singer, Chloe Chaidez, and had an entire conversation about how fantastic her hair looked. At the time, we thought she was a fan. Before the band went on, lots of people in the pit were asking about Kitten and whether the band were any good. I hadn’t heard of Kitten outside of the fact that I knew they were opening for Paramore on this tour — but I’d heard good things from people who had seen them live.
Let me just say, those people totally underestimated the awesomeness of this band. Chaidez is a complete babe, prowling the stage like a shark, manipulating her male bandmates, male security guards, and even male audience members to act as her props. Her vocals are gorgeous and Kitten’s songs are high-energy and sexual in an almost over-the-top way. They won over a good chunk of the crowd after the first song and people got more and more into it as the band continued its 45-minute set. And there were no illusions about the fact that they were working to get the crowd going — Chaidez commented at one point that the band was there for one reason: “We’re a warm-up for Paramore.” (But I definitely wouldn’t object to seeing them again. Damn.)
The crowd at the House of Blues went absolutely apeshit on Wednesday night. The energy was high when Kitten left the stage, but the anticipation of seeing Paramore had everyone losing it well before the band actually took the stage. Paramore opened with “Moving On”, an interlude from its new self-titled album, then went straight into the smash hit “Misery Business”. From there, the energy got increasingly more intense as the band played for almost two hours. The set still felt too short — Paramore puts on such an amazing live show that I could watch them for days and not get bored.
There was a slight pause to the madness when Paramore played “Only Exception”, a slow, sweet single about love from the album Brand New Eyes. But that didn’t last long; Williams brought two members of the Paramore Fan Club onstage (they’d been in front of us in the early entry line just a few hours before that) so that one could propose to the other. It was a really cool moment, one that’s happened at several Paramore shows before (but never one that I’d attended). She said yes, of course, though wouldn’t you?
Williams also brought fans on stage during “Anklebiters”, and the band had a mini mosh with the group of kids on stage. The balance between old and new songs was well-wrought and Paramore got the audience involved in every song, even ones like “Whoa” that not necessarily every fan would know by heart. This band has always known how to work a room and Wednesday night was no exception.
So that was Paramore concert #4 for yours truly. I can’t wait for #5. This band has been through a lot in its career (already) and it’s stronger than ever. I’m stoked to see what the future brings, because I (still) love Paramore.