my chemical romance never died

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I have seen, by my rough estimate, over 1000 shows in my life. I was a music journalist in a previous life and went to many shows each month, some for work, some for pleasure. At that time, I always said that My Chemical Romance was “my favorite band that I had never seen in concert”. For a variety of increasingly silly reasons, I never saw the band live in my teens; my best friend, who didn’t like them in the least, has seen them more times than I have, and he considered me a fan of Newark weirdos.

finally, Finally, changed on Sunday night. I should have changed two years ago; My Chemical Romance announced a reunion tour in 2019, after almost six years of being a real band, having called it quits in 2013. There was a show planned in Brooklyn for September 2020. I couldn’t get tickets because the ticketing sites web are a scam and impossible for average fans to crack, but I had saved a good amount of change to buy resold tickets as the date got closer.

And then the pandemic happened. The show was, understandably, postponed a year to 2021. When that The date approached, the show was postponed again. The new date was September 11, 2022. To die-hard fans of the band, this felt like a harbinger. He made it for me, anyway. My Chemical Romance only exists because of 9/11; Lead singer Gerard Way felt the need to leave his old life and start the band due to the terrorist attacks. Seeing the band perform, for the first time, on 9/11 in New York City…was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.

If it feels morbid to dwell on this, it’s understandable, and the band didn’t really make much of the connection. The only real nod to his own story was that he played “Skylines and Turnstiles” second on the set; the song was the first written for the band, written by Way as a response to 9/11. They also had a fixed background of two buildings, decaying but still standing. Other than that though, the nostalgia on display for me and thousands of my temporary best friends was more about the 21 years between that day and Sunday.

In that time, both My Chemical Romance and their fans have grown. I was 14 years old the first time I heard My Chemical Romance. To really grow old here, I’ll say I was flipping through the music section of my local Borders bookstore when I found a cool-looking album cover by a band with a ridiculous name. that album, I brought you my bullets, you brought me your love, it had an even more ridiculous name, but I used my Buxx Visa card (Gosh, the first 2000 was embarrassing) and my allowance to buy it anyway. At the time, my taste in music was essentially what my older brother listened to and what was on MTV; that meant a lot of DMX and Limp Bizkit from the former, and Linkin Park and Hoobastank from the latter.

Bullets, as My Chemical Romance’s debut album has been called by fans too lazy or too mortified to say the full name, was completely unlike anything I’d heard before. He was dark as hell, but not angry. It was cathartic, and it was silly. There are songs about vampires and a song inspired by the original. Dawn of the Dead. There’s also a heartbreaking song about alcoholism by lead singer Gerard Way (it’s called “Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough For The Two Of Us,” but don’t take that seriously).

Tell Bullets changing my taste in music alone would be a bit of a stretch, but it started to open me up to music that was previously out of the way. That wouldn’t be the case for long; Most people’s introduction to My Chemical Romance would come next year, with the release of the catchiest song about being miserable, “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)”. Suddenly the band was everywhere.

With that song and the album that followed, My Chemical Romance established themselves as the dramatic overlords of the burgeoning era of mainstream emo music. You know the one: a lot of wronged guys singing extremely spiteful songs about the women who hurt them. Looking back, as I often do due to its formative nature for me, there is much to be ashamed of here.

My Chemical Romance, however, was never one of those bands. The original core members, Way, his brother Mikey, guitarists Ray Toro and Frank Iero, and drummer Bob Bryar, were focused on something different. There were songs about mortality and immortality, songs about drug abuse, songs about depression in Three cheers for sweet revenge. The band’s biggest hit at the time, “Helena,” was a tribute to the Ways’ grandmother, and its video became a mission statement: a funeral where the corpse rises from the coffin to dance.

The band also had ambition. follow up to three cheers It could have been more of the same, and fans would have bought it, but instead My Chemical Romance threw a big curveball at everyone, becoming The Black Parade, a marching band with skeleton costumes and anthems sized. What in. If you know of one My Chemical Romance song, and only one, it’s probably “Welcome to the Black Parade,” which is the emo scene’s best attempt at recreating “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

All of these sides of My Chemical Romance were on display on Sunday. The band played more songs from Bullets than I expected—four, when I was just expecting “Vampires Will Never Hurt You,” arguably the band’s best song—and they played some of the deepest cuts from their hit album; “It’s Not A Fashion Statement, It’s A Fucking Deathwish” is the closing of the album, but it fits perfectly in the middle of the set. They played all the hits, of course, and listening to the life-affirming chorus of “Famous Last Words” in a room in 2022 blasting out is an experience I’ll treasure for a long time: “I’m not afraid to go on living, I’m not afraid to go on living.” to walk alone in this world.

Over 20 songs, Way and the rest did something that is getting harder and harder for me to find: they gave me an experience that burned more at 33 than when I was a teenager. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I never really stopped listening to them, or just anticipation, but the show was better than I could have hoped for. In his absence, the band has moved away from its more chaotic origins to become a band of dads, professional in their musicianship and charmingly young at heart. Although I didn’t get to experience it myself, on this tour, Way has donned a variety of costumes which go against the theory that My Chemical Romance takes itself too seriously. in a show, put on cat earswhile in another it came out in what I can only describe as Black Swan meets the goth club.

Not taking myself too seriously is a lesson I’ve had to learn, slowly, over the years. Sometimes that manifests itself by willingly playing the role of the villain in Defector Thursday Night Trivia. Other times, it means dancing, sweating, and screaming the lyrics to songs that I’ve known for more than half my life. Luckily, my partner agreed to come with me to the show, and while she wasn’t a huge fan of the band before Sunday, she was right there with me, yelling the words to “Helena” in my face while I did the same. its. It was a moment of clarity for me: yes, we’re older, and yes, it might be a little embarrassing to hold a candle for a band I loved when I was the target age for their songs nearly two decades, but that’s okay. I promise!

As we walked out of the Brooklyn Nets’ spaceship stadium at a rainy 11:00 hour, following the first performance of the deep B-side “Desert Song” in 14 years, New York seemed perfect. There were thousands of people dressed in costumes, face paint and vibrant energy, singing their favorite songs at the top of their lungs or under their breath. My Chemical Romance has always functioned on those two ends of the spectrum: their songs were there in the darkest of times, but they also provide community. The band’s reward for that dichotomy is an army of weirdos and freaks and losers and all the other names they’ve been called, obsessively devoted to their style of rock and roll. After 19 years, I am happy that I was finally able to be among them.


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