We Love Music: My Chemical Romance @ 9:30 Club, 5/10/11

All photos by Aminta S. Nieves-Candamo.

Guest reviewer Alexia Kauffman of The Torches was at the show for We Love DC:

My Chemical Romance brought their own special brand of supercharged power-punk-goth-pop to DC’s 9:30 Club on Tuesday night. In the middle of their World Contamination Tour, they were joined by fellow New Jersey rockers Thursday, and Kansas City, Missouri’s Architects.

When I arrived at the 9:30 club on Tuesday night, I could hardly believe my eyes. It was about fifteen minutes until the 7pm door time, and the line was outrageous! It looked to be at least four people wide or more, and stretched almost three full blocks! When I joined the end of the massive line I began to feel a little bit out of place. From a glance it seemed that, oh, maybe 90% of the people in line were teens or tweens. And most of the rest looked to be the parents of said teens. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. The thing is I’d never been to a My Chemical Romance show before, though I’ve been listening to them (and ok I admit it loving them- does this count as a guilty pleasure?) since the release of their second album “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge” in 2004. Anyway, once the massive line snaked its way inside the club the darkness helped equalize everyone, so it didn’t matter if I was one of the few adults without kids in tow. (More to come later about the pros & cons of a teen audience.*)

I don’t have much to say about the first two bands of the evening. I guess I can thank the opening band Architects for giving me time to eat my Nachos of Ulysses without worrying about what was going on onstage. As for Thursday- I will admit that I am not familiar with their music. They may be a talented band, but the first thing I could think when they started their set was that at least half of the guys in the band must own their own straightening-irons, and the lead singer must practice in front of a mirror. They felt a little too affected- there was a lot of hair flipping going on. I found the singer too whiny, and like he was posing for the audience more than just letting go and singing. That being said, I probably would have eaten them up with a spoon if I was 15. However, there were moments that rocked enough to make me momentarily overlook the hair flipping and other antics. Jet Black New Year, from their EP “Five Stories Falling” made me think maybe they’re worth another listen.

When My Chemical Romance finally took the stage the audience was ready, and surged forward in a wave of energy and excitement. MCR started off their set with the bouncy Na Na Na off of their latest album “Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys”. While I’m not yet a fan of this album, the song started their set off on a high-energy kick, and immediately got the crowd jumping and singing along as singer Gerard Way bounced across the stage frenetically. They cranked the energy up even more for their next song Thank You for the Venom, off of their second album “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge”, working the audience even further into a frenzy. At this point I saw a sight I haven’t seen in years- crowd-surfing. It was fun to watch, since none of them were close enough to land on my head, and brought back memories of the Lollapaloozas of my teen years.

One of the highest points of the night came a few songs later when the band played Mama off of their third album “The Black Parade.” The song is a huge-sounding, operatic number that starts with the sound of cannon-fire, and runs the gamut from circus music to Parisian street serenade to full-out head-banging metal moments, to sea-shanty-sing-along (The album version of the song even features a cameo from Liza Minelli!). It was glorious, and had the whole audience swaying, jumping and howling along.

While the stage show didn’t have many bells and whistles, just some cool lighting and lots of flashing strobes, it didn’t feel lacking. The music and energy of the band was enough entertainment to keep the audience entranced. Way is a supremely charismatic front-man, engaging the audience throughout, and guitarist Ray Toro provided virtuosic metal guitar flourishes like cherries on top of a delicious rock sundae.

The other highlights of the night for me came in the thrashy House of Wolves, the super-catchy sing-along anthem I’m Not Okay (I Promise) and rowdy Teenagers. They ended their main set with a goose-bump-inducing rendition of their early hit Helena. At this point the band retreated, except for the touring keyboardist, and Way came back out to sing a stripped down piano and vocal version of Cancer, belting out the farewell to the audience ” ‘Cause the hardest part of this is leaving you.”

The band came back out for a two song encore- one of their earliest songs Our Lady of Sorrows, and one of their newest Bulletproof Heart. They left the stage finally, amidst wild cheers, leaving behind their adoring fans to bask in the afterglow of the fun-filled evening.

MCR set:
Na Na Na
Thank You For The Venom
Planetary (Go!)
Hang ‘Em High
The Only Hope for Me is You
House of Wolves
I’m Not Okay (I Promise)
Vampire Money
Welcome To The Black Parade
Vampires Will Never Hurt You

Our Lady of Sorrows
Bulletproof Heart

*So, I learned something from this new experience of being in an audience chock-full of teens. The pros: very few drunk jerks; people were super polite, actually saying “excuse me” when passing you, and apologizing when they bumped me; you can sing along as loud as you want and not feel self-conscious about it; there are a lot fewer tall people to have to worry about blocking your view. Cons: don’t expect to meet anyone to date at this show (but who does usually? not me…); you may be confused for someone’s cool aunt/uncle or parent; the sodas were $4 (I feel like this is much higher than normal at the club, and grossly overpriced).

Alexia Kauffman

Alexia was born and raised in Arlington, VA. She has been a cellist since age four, and a lover of rock & roll soon after. The first tape she owned was “Make It Big” by Wham, and the first tape she bought was Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” and she still loves both. She was a member of local synth-rock outfit Soft Complex for several years, and has recorded with bands including Engine Down and Two if By Sea. By day she works for a non-profit distributing royalties to musicians and labels. She currently plays cello, lap-steel guitar and tambourine in the DC post-folk/Americana band The Torches.

5 thoughts on “We Love Music: My Chemical Romance @ 9:30 Club, 5/10/11

  1. I, too, had the “oh snap, I am too old for this show” moment when I showed up and saw the line. I first saw MyChem in 2003 at the oh-so-impressionable age of 15, so I’ve been doing this for a while. They just get better and better.

    And I fully realise that I am too old to be saying that. I can’t help it.

  2. I’m 49, and I have a confession; I love MCR – everyone and everything about them. My daughter (now 17) and I have been hooked from the start, and I took her to her first concert when she was 11 to see MCR at William & Mary in VA. Seeing them at the 9:30 club was a treat!
    So, sorry to say this, kids, but this is one old lady who still loves to rock.

  3. I myself am 16, and this was my first My Chem concert. They have been my favorite band for ages and I’ve always wanted to see them. When we got to the show, I realized my camera had no memory card, therefore I couldn’t take pictures. I cannot thank you enough for posting these. I finally have some photos to remember the evening by. :’)

  4. This was my 4th time seeing My Chemical Romance! The first time i saw them i was 12 and it was back in 05′ when they played at UMBC field house in baltimore. Then i saw them at merriweather and the electric factory in philly. This was by far my FAVORITE concert of all. I could not believe that mikey and frank came out to sign! i got to talk with them and am looking forward to seeing them return in the summertime :)! i cant wait till they post their summer datesss