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CONCERT REVIEW - MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE WITH MIDTOWN AND WATERPARKS, KIA FORUM, LOS ANGELES, CA (10.17.22)

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I will be the first person to admit that when I was in High School, I was a music snob. If it didn’t come out over 15 years ago, then I did not care about it. I wouldn’t even give new music a chance because there was no way new music could be as good or better than what bands were doing two decades ago. Boy was I wrong! During my high school days was the peak of the emo phase and emo music. Bands like Panic! At the Disco, Fall Out Boy, Paramore, The Used, and the king of them all My Chemical Romance. I would not give any of them the time of day back then, and it wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s that I finally went through my “emo phase.” I was a late bloomer. My eyes and ears were finally opened to what amazing music these bands had created. When My Chemical Romance announced a five-night stay at the legendary Forum in Los Angeles, I knew I had to be there. I was fortunate enough to see night five when they brought two incredible bands: Midtown & Waterparks with them.

Due to the LA Rams game across the street, parking was an absolute shit show and not everyone was able to make it to the venue as early as they originally intended. None the less, Waterparks were ready to play for the fans that were able to get in. Waterparks is a pop punk band that I personally discovered during pandemic. So I was very excited to get to see them. Lead singer Awsten Knight has a vocal range that fits into the pop punk style perfectly. His tenor voice and stage charisma make it so you can barely take your eyes off of him as he runs across the stage. Guitarist Geoff Wigington is a riff master, as he creates such catchy melodies that all new Waterparks listeners will start moving as soon as they hear them. Drummer Otto Wood kept the grooves funky with his beats and rhythms. Playing songs like “Numb,” “FUNERAL GREY,” “Fuck About It,” “Real Super Dark,” and closing with “Turbulent.” Waterparks even took a moment to get the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to their manager Miles. Regardless of how many people were still having trouble outside with parking, Waterparks got the party started inside the Forum with a joyous performance that left me with a smile on my face.

Up next is a band that most people would probably say, “Woah! Midtown is still performing!” Well….kinda. These guys were around during that start of the emo scene in the early 2000s, but sadly disbanded in 2005. They were asked by MCR bassist Mikey if it were possible for them to get back together for just one more tour. Frontman Gabe Saporta said it should be possible, and the Midtown reunion was in full swing. Saporta’s smile on stage was infectious as the crowd danced with him throughout their set. Guitarists Tyler Rann and Heath Saraceno traded off leads and rhythms with such finesse, you could tell stage rust never affected them. Drummer Rob Hitt drove the beats from behind the kit with precision. Saporta commented that they were very honored to be asked to reform to tour with MCR and joked that most of the people in the crowd probably didn’t know who they were. They blasted into a cover of The Killers “When You Were Young,” just so the audience had something to sing a long to. Playing their early 2000s classics like “Become What you Hate,” “Like a Movie,” “Just Rock and Roll,” “Get it Together,” “No Place Feels Like Home,” “Empty Like the Ocean,” and closing with “Give it Up.” Which surprised me as I knew this song and found myself singing along to a band I didn’t know existed until this night.

January 29th, 2020. My Chemical Romance rock the music world by announcing a fall reunion tour, featuring two final days at the legendary Los Angeles Forum. Those tickets sold out so fast, the band decided to add three more days at the Forum to the end of their tour. March 11th, 2020 the world goes into a pandemic lock down and all concerts are cancelled/postponed. After that I lost track of how many times the My Chemical Romance tour was delayed and pushed back. It felt like this show may never come to be. The saviors of the broken had brought so much hope back to our sad emo lives, and this pandemic just kept crushing us. It wasn’t until October 11th, 12th, 14th, 15th, & 17th 2022 that My Chemical Romance was finally going to perform in Los Angeles, and I was going to be in the crowd for night five on the 17th!

Opening the night with their newest song “The Foundations of Decay,” lead singer Gerard Way came out wearing a long sleeve shirt with a skull on it looking like Sid from Toy Story with emo hair. As this was my first time seeing MCR, I was absolutely captivated by Way’s presence on stage. No matter where he ran, there was an energy that the audience is drawn into and can’t stop watching. Lead guitarist Ray Toro has a head of hair to rival Dave Mustaine and rocks it like a metal head while playing emo riffs. Rhythm guitarist Frank Lero pulls double duty by keeping Toro on track while he wails and fills the backing vocals of Gerard Ways screams. Bassist Mikey Way fills up the low end with bass grooves in time with drummer Jarrod Alexander.

My Chemical Romance made their stint at the Forum unique. They did not want to perform the same setlist each night, five nights in a row. They dedicated each night to a different album, which meant playing songs that they had not played live since the beginning of their career, as well as playing some songs live for the first time ever. Seeing as MCR only has four full length albums, and I was at night five. The question was, what was our set list going to consist of? Depending on who you ask, we may have gotten the best setlist of the run as we got the “Greatest Hits” show. Featuring songs like “I’m Not Okay (I Promise),” “Planetary (GO!),” “Teenagers,” “I Don’t Love You,” “Helena,” “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na),” “Welcome to the Black Parade,” and “Famous Last Words.” We also got some unique live songs like “SING” which the band hadn’t performed live since 2012, and “Fake Your Death,” which was the first time MCR had ever performed the song live. Ending the night with “Vampires Will Never Hurt You,” the band was in perfect harmony together drawing out tears of joy from every member in the crowd.

My Chemical Romance broke up in 2013, and it left a huge gaping hole in every emo child’s heart. The desire to see them live again or for the first time seemed like a distant pipe dream. These reunion shows are something fans have been dreaming about and knew they would never be real.  But sometimes the stars can align, and miracles can happen. This show took MCR fans through a roller coaster of emotions. From pure joy, to utter ecstasy, jumping with happiness while ugly crying, and in the end sadness that the show had to eventually end. The kings of the emo scene still know how to put on an amazing show that touches every person in the crowd. We hope this tour isn’t just a one-time thing, and that our saviors will be back one day.

 

Matt Martinez

Photojournalist - Orange County

Website: www.instagram.com/red_hareimages Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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