Campus Life Editor
When I was 13, Gerard Way, the lead singer of My Chemical Romance, had a show at the Fillmore in San Francisco. My father said I needed to prove my grades were good in order to go. By the time grades came out, the show was sold out. When I was about 15, I went to a Rise Against and Deftones concert because Frank Iero, the rhythm guitarist of MCR, and The Patience were opening for them. Well we left late, and I missed him. I spent the rest of that concert crying in the bathroom.
So when I heard My Chemical Romance was doing a tour, I was prepared for disappointment. Anxiously waiting behind my computer screen, I was in the waiting room behind thousands of people. I watched as the highly priced tickets were snatched up one by one. It was over.
My sister came in clutch when they started adding more dates, and got us seats in the nosebleeds. Fast forward 2 years later, the day before the concert, I got food poisoning. And again, set myself up for disappointment. Maybe it just was not meant to be? What would happen if I was actually that close to them? What was it going to be like? Would I fall in love again (did I ever fall out of it)? Would I change my career path to being a rock star, like I did when I was 13, aspiring to be a combination of Gerard Way, David Bowie, and Billie Joe Armstrong? The thing I had wanted for my entire teen life was coming at me. Before I knew it, my partner was driving my sister and I to the venue. And it seemed almost instantly that I had gotten the merchandise I had only dreamed of holding. I felt the feeling of whiplash when the lights dimmed, and they finally showed themselves.
The second they came out on stage, I burst into tears. It was like my mouth was being pulled down towards my jawline, my upper lip reaching for my nose, I felt a slight burn in my nose as tears were falling down my face. Holding my cardigan, wearing my new My Chemical Romance shirt, I held myself as I struggled out, ‘They’re Real!’
My experience with My Chemical Romance all started as the most stereotypical way for kids in the age of the Internet– middle school. I was sitting in the auditorium, waiting for the end of the year talent show. I was eleven and alone, like most nerdy pre-teens. School events were not really my thing, but this was mandatory. Going through countless acts of adolescents singing and performing semi-average talent acts was not the most entertaining of days– until one man came out. A tall eighth grader who looked like he stepped out of a Hot Topic magazine came on stage to sing. This boy sang “Cancer” by My Chemical Romance. And it was not the singing that got me emotional (believe me, it was sub-par) but it was the lyrics of it. The intentionality of the song. Being that young, I had not heard something that soulful and sad before. And I really heard it. Everything just clicked for me after that.
Now fast-forward to 2022. I am a junior in college. I’ve been through a lot more than I was going through as a moody pre-teen, and have discovered more about myself from that point. And truthfully, I have to thank My Chemical Romance for a lot of that. But they were notalways in my life for the past couple of years. I had big periods of my life where I did notlisten to them anymore. Obviously I was excited when they were getting back together, but deeper than that… I was scared. Was the reason they were coming together a cash grab? Anything that went against the band’s original message? So I was hesitant (Gerard Way pun intended) on the reunion. I quietly cheered from the sidelines. Until early October rolled around. I was aimlessly scrolling through Twitter when I saw it. A video of Gerard Way in a cheerleading outfit at the Nashville show. I was brought back to my love of the band all over again. So, like any logical person would, I waited to get paid and spent my entire paycheck on tickets to the last date in Los Angeles as an early birthday present.
October 17th was the day. My friend Mayahuel and I packed up her car, did our makeup, and headed to the Forum. ItThe 17th was an especially a good show to see because of the openers. After buying our merch and finding our seats, the first opening band of the night was about to perform– Waterparks. I absolutely love Waterparks, and have since 2016. I found them through their first studio EP Cluster (which, fun fact, has the bass playing of MCR’s own Mikey Way!) and adored it. They had a pop style to the genre of pop-punk, and it was something that I have not heard before. And as of more recently, they lean a lot on the pop side, such as recent single “Fuck About It,” featuring rapper blackbear. The Forum show was my first time ever seeing them, and they killed it!
The stage presence that singer and frontman Awsten Knight has is incredible! And to back him up was guitarist Geoff Washington, and drummer Otto Wood. The three have a close bond with one another, which is exemplified with their playing on stage. The band also performed many songs from their new unreleased album unofficially called PARX5. My personal favorite from this bunch was a song called “REALSUPERDARK”, which adds a layer of grittiness to the pop stylings that the band is covering. The overall stage boasted an intensely red theme to it, alluding to the red of the upcoming album.
Next up in the lineup was a band from way back in the day, Midtown. When we heard them, we were pleasantly surprised! They are very much a ‘pop punk’ band, straight out of the Vans Warped Tour. Fronted by Gabe Saporta (who you may know from the band Cobra Starship), this band came out with that true rock and roll attitude. One of the most interesting pieces of trivia from this band is that they had been broken up since 2005, but MCR asked them to join together one last time for this tour. “And obviously we said yes!” states Saporata. They played a plethora of their hits, and even some songs not of their own, like Mr. Brightside by The Killers. Overall, Midtown was far from ‘mid’.
And then finally, the big event… My Chemical Romance. The band built the suspense by playing an array of loud and abrasive sounds to get the audience geared up for what was about to come. The Kia Forum is a venue with lots of history, and clout. They have hosted everyone from Prince to Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. The arena is built in such a way that the sound is going to cloak you instead of somewhere like an outdoor venue where the sound comes at you and passes. The circular structure allows the sound to be heard clearly, and allows you to really feel it. In addition to them being together and geared up, they had a great venue for their music to be in. You really appreciated the venue after an explosive and fun-filled rendition of Mama from The Black Parade, most of the band left the stage– except Gerard Way. The lights turned off, and a single spotlight lit the singer. The soft melodic tones of a piano whiffed through the stadium, and then I heard it. The beginning chords of a song I know like the back of my hand. I was teleported back to middle school with this. The song was none other than “Cancer”. Gerard’s beautiful singing voice transported the entire audience into a state of bliss, wrapping us up in a comforting blanket. The entire stadium brought out their flashlights, illuminating the entire venue.
One of the best parts of seeing My Chemical Romance Live was getting to hear how talented of musicians they are. While glancing at the stage, you see an abundance of pedals and add-ons with effects. Lead singer Gerard Way’s pedal stand has been speculated by fans to be a synth sound board, which includes distortion for screaming (like in “Foundations”), with fuzz and probably some delay and overdrive. It allows him to make all those wacky new-wavey sounds, showing inspiration from artists like Johnny Marr, David Bowie (I hear mostly Station-To-Station in “Foundations”), and Peter Murphy. The guitar used in Foundations sounds like a Black Parade riff; capturing that early 2000s rock sound that’s inspired by diverging from classic rock artists like Queen, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, punk artists like Black Flag, Misfits, Sex Pistols, and other bands like Iron Maiden and Smashing Pumpkins.
There’s a lot more information on what Frank Iero (rhythm guitar) and Ray Toro (lead guitar) use as guitarists that may give more insight into what Gerard is using. Based on concert photos, it seems like Ray is using his trusted Gibson Les Paul standard and Iero is using a custom Fender Jazz Master, while occasionally pulling out a Les Paul. According to fan-based gear speculations and gear tours available on YouTube, Frank uses a Boss BD-2 Blues Driver, which is the “primary overdrive pedal in both My Chemical Romance and his (Iero’s) solo project(s)”. Iero also uses a 2-in-1 Chorus and Flanger pedal, the Ibanez CF7, which creates the “dreamy chord progressions”. Toro uses the Ibanez TS9 for Overdrive and an Electro-Harmonix POG Octave generator, which he uses a lot on the records. Obviously, these guys have been playing a long time, so they have more, but those seem to be what we as an audience would hear.
The 5 day LA ‘residency’ had lots of moments for the books. They had their first show on Wednesday, October 11th, then another on the 12th, on the 14th, 15th, and 17th. The first night they also played “Desolation Row”, a Bob Dylan cover that was featured in Watchmen, played for the first time since 2011. The second night was kicked off with Gerard’s cute vintage cheerleader outfit, and a flame thrower. On the night I went, Friday, Nov. 14, they played “Kill All Your Friends” live for the first time since 2008, “I Don’t Love You” for the first time on the tour, and “All The Angels” live for the first time. Through their residency, they played pretty much all their songs, even the ultra rare “Sister To Sleep”, played for the first time since 2003 with new lyrics. It was performed once in 2003 at a incredibly small club in New York City (how deep of a cut is that, am I right?); They also performed “Fake Your Death” for the first time live in the encore.
I loved all the songs I heard, but I’d have to say the three songs I was the most stoked on were “DESTROYA”, “Kill All Your Friends”, and “This Is How I Disappear”. My idols, my inspiration behind nearly every aspect of my life, the ones who I felt understood me when I did not understand myself, were in the same building as I was, playing my favorite songs.
My favorite part of the night brings me right back to the beginning; not of the show, but of my start with My Chemical Romance. Everything was in unison. It was comforting. It was home. My Chemical Romance is home.
Image Courtesy of Allen J. Schaben/ Los Angeles Times