Say what you will about the pop-punk of the mid-2000s or My Chemical Romance in particular, but if there's one thing that still remains from that scene, it's unbridled passion for music. Last night (Oct. 20), former MCR frontman and newly branded solo artist Gerard Way performed for a sold-out crowd at the Irving Plaza in New York City and the fans (and Way) were more enthusiastic than ever.
Approaching the Irving Plaza roughly 15 minutes after the doors were supposed to open revealed a massive queue for the roughly 1000-person capacity venue. The line wrapped around four or five city blocks, and it was clear that some of these fans had been waiting at show's doors since the earliest hours of the morning.
There was a notable motif to the fans, and it seems like every slightly alternative person in NYC showed up for this show. A sea of black clothing and My Chemical Romance T-shirts made up the queue, which was also notably filled with fans of every age. For every group of 20-somethings, there were at least a few teens and tweens and their begrudging parent chaperones. "Can you believe it? We're, like, actually going to see Gerard Way! In person!" the 13-year-old girl squealed behind me. Way is the type to resonate with any sort of the disenfranchised, be you 13 or 33, and the mood was electric.
That enthusiasm carried its way into the venue itself, which Way later described as "one of his favorite rooms in the world." Every time Way's face showed up on the screen at the Irving Plaza as one of about 30 upcoming performers, the crowd cheered - and this happened five or six times.
Even the opening act, Philadelphia alt-rock outlet The Eeries was met with rousing support. Though most supporting bands are met with tentative praise at best, this foursome was (rightfully) embraced by the crowd, with Way fans singing along and even thrashing to the more rough cuts.
After a crisp half-hour set from The Eeries, the time was all set for Way's entrance to the stage. Despite only releasing his debut solo effort, Hesitant Alien a month ago and opening his tour about a week ago, Way commanded the stage with the cool, comfortable confidence of a seasoned rock star (which, admittedly, he is). With little more than a head bob and an exclamation for the audience to "put your f**king hands up," he commanded the crowd to go absolutely insane with bouncing waves.
Way's impressive command of the room flowed throughout his entire set. At first, he seemed overly confident and a little cool, remaining largely still behind his microphone through Hesitant Alien opener "The Bureau" and even half of his second song, the rousing "Action Cat." But matching the crowd's enthusiasm and energy, Way eventually worked his way around the small stage, taking control of everything and moving the audience with him.
A video posted by athousandmph (@athousandmph) on Oct 10, 2014 at 6:07pm PDT
Way ripped through his debut album, performing every track seamlessly. Though the songs feel glitzy and more reminiscent of Britpop and even pure indie on Hesitant Alien itself, when performed live there's a notable punky, hard edge to them that's hard to hear on record. Maybe it's the thrashing guitars, Way's own epic presence or the sing-back of the audience, but these songs can be rough if they need to be.
In between slaying through songs like "Zero Zero" and commanding the audience to sing along perfectly to the very MCR-esque "Brother," Way also took time out to be a "positive Polly" and comment on how optimistic he is about the state of the world. Way is an advocate for women, the LGBT crowd and mental health, all of which he addressed during his NYC show.
"Ladies here, I want you to scream as loud as you can. The tides are changing and all the old, white men in suits in power... they're f**king scared of you!" he exclaimed to massive rousing from the many women in the audience. Seeing Way preach to the disenfranchised just pumped up the power of the night. As if the music itself wasn't a roudy, magnetizing pull, watching him preach to the choir was just as impressive.
Gerard Way: the rock star that just wants you to be your best self, all while performing some cutting new alternative rock.
"I feel good vibes tonight. I feel a good one." -@gerardway in NYC. A photo posted by Music Times (@themusictimes) on Oct 10, 2014 at 6:11pm PDT