With last minute approval for a festival out of town this weekend, my Thursday was full of stress and headache as I tried to play for the last minute trip. I knew that I needed a show to calm down. It didn’t matter what show– I just needed a show. After a quick nap to try and remedy my crippling anxiety, I packed my bag and headed downtown to one of my new favorite venues- The Armory to see Paramore.
After breezing through security (the staff here is seriously organized and deserve a huge round of applause), I found myself lost in a sea of people waiting for opener Jay Som to take the stage. Right on time, Jay and her backing band took the stage and instantly transported me somewhere with absolutely no problems, no stress, and no anxiety over my impending clusterfuck of a weekend. Hailing from Los Angeles, Jay Som (born Melina Duterte) treated the quickly growing audience to her calming almost bedroom-pop sounds while still keeping the energy high. Her short set seemed to be ignored by the people around me. Maybe it was a bit over their heads musically but, regardless, I loved every second of Jay Som’s thirty minute set.
Following Jay Som was the one and only Foster The People. Full disclosure, this band was the main reason I was stoked for last night’s show. With too many hits to list and a sound that is just as unique as it is fun, Foster the People took the stage and wowed the packed hangar-like venue with ease. Although this band definitely hit their stride back in 2003 with their hit single “Pumped Up Kicks”, they have found a way to remain relevant without changing anything about their sound of image. With the electronic sound raging through the speakers and a fun energy from the members that was only matched by the erratic lights that were whizzing around the venue, Foster the People’s set was dynamic and definitely packed a punch.
This Los Angeles based group did a great job of selecting what songs to play. Although they obviously played their hits, they also played some B-sides that I hadn’t heard in years. Complete with a cover of The Ramones’ “Blitzkreig Pop” that definitely highlighted the band’s unique sound, their set was full of dance along and sing along songs. It was clear that even if someone in the audience had been dragged to the show by their girlfriend (which seemed to be the case majority of the time), Foster the People provided a set that was easily enjoyable by all.
Closing out the Thursday night show was the almighty Paramore. Okay, I’m not a Paramore fan. They were a bit too pop for me when I was turning to metal and I just didn’t connect to their lyrics. That being said, I couldn’t help but find myself truly enjoying their exhaustive over twenty song set. Wasting no time, Paramore kicked off the set with their song “Grudges”. The stage set up seemed simple with just some mirrors that stretched the length of the stage staggered above. It was odd but added a very cool effect. I didn’t have the best view of the stage from where I was standing but, because of the mirrors, I was able to see every high kick that iconic singer Hayley Williams did while wearing her bright pink suit. By the third song in, those mirrors turned into screens that displayed different graphics and words and definitely gave the show the wow factor I had been expecting.
The music from Paramore was amazing and, yes, I couldn’t help myself but sing along to “Still Into You” but last night wasn’t about that for me. It was about the pure connection that the people around me had with this band. Although I never jumped on the bandwagon, I couldn’t help but feel the excitement from the people around me as they screamed along to songs that clearly meant everything to them. I remember Paramore from back in the day with their fun pop (not pop-punk— you know I’m right) songs but didn’t realize that, like many other bands that I still follow from this era, they truly have evolved and matured with their fan base. With a setlist stacked with both old and new songs, it was obvious that this is band that a whole generation truly grew up with and it was clear to see why.
I couldn’t sing along to every song last night. Sure, there were a few moments of nostalgia during a select number of songs for me but that’s where my connection with this band ended. That being said, I felt an indescribable connection just because of the people around me. Sometimes being lost in a crowd of people who are screaming along to the words that mean everything to them makes you have a strong connection with a band that you used to curse under your breath when brought up in conversation. Would I consider myself a huge Paramore fan at this point and do I take back every bad word I said about this group? No. Absolutely not. That being said, I get it now. They have a show that connects with their fans and each member of this group has a personality that shined and came off as genuine throughout their nearly two hour set.
I didn’t know what to expect from Paramore last night but I know I didn’t expect what I got. I left the show happy and without a care in the world and that means that last night was a damn good show.