‘Cry Hard, Dance Harder’: Paramore at the Verizon Theater
“It’s been a little bit of a soap opera,” Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams joked, referencing the band’s tumultuous history.
Fans at the Verizon Theater Saturday, Sept. 30 laughed knowingly. This “soap opera” quality of the band follows them wherever they go seemingly in any interview or any album review.
With the collective loss of six members throughout Paramore’s history, it becomes an easy topic to exploit. But this concert was about letting those demons out through the only way the band knew how: music.
As the expectant crowd hushed and the lights dimmed, all members took the stage, playing their own tour-specific intro highlighting returning drummer Zac Farro. Anticipation built as a soft, yellow light pulsed with every beat. Once the lights went up and the first steel drum beats of “Hard Times” played out, the crowd erupted into applause and screams. Williams jumped and kicked with each beat, running back and forth across the stage. Her bleach-blonde locks trailed behind her as she bobbed her head up and down until she hit her mark in the center of the stage, belting out the first lines.
“All that I want is to wake up fine/tell me that I’m alright, that I ain’t gonna die.” The initially unassuming and upbeat song takes a turn when the lyrics are really dissected. Paramore had the whole crowd jumping up and down, dancing to the tune of Williams’ struggles with depression and anxiety. During this era, Paramore isn’t holding anything back. They’ve stuck to their motto: “Cry hard, dance harder.”
Paramore’s fifth album, “After Laughter,” felt like a long time coming. While their previous self-titled era screamed “Hey, we’re still a band and we’re all so very happy,” “After Laughter” turns right back around to say, “Actually, we’re not, but we’ll make it through.” So it makes sense that a tour supporting this record comes with more than the usual emotional baggage. Williams spoke openly to the crowd about her struggles that aren’t in the distant past.
“I also want make sure that while we’re all here together, looking at each other in the face, and you’re with people that you love and we’re listening to music and having a good time, that when you go home to whatever you’re going home to, you’re not alone in it,” Williams said. “I know it feels that way sometimes, because I’ve been there and I’m still there some days.”
Paramore has been together since 2005 and have toured for nearly as long. Their veteran status shows in the increasingly intricate and showy nature of their lighting. This time around, the band was backed by a colossal target made up of individual lights that would flash and move to the beats. Colorful, ‘80s-esque designs were projected directly onto the rig. The whole setup felt monumental yet playful, keeping up with the album’s poppy, upbeat vibes.
Even though the band is beyond their years of fumbling around a tiny stage at Warped Tour, they played with as much enthusiasm as if it was their first show. Nothing felt contrived or planned out. Williams was especially able to get the crowd going while dancing and singing with ease. Her vivacious energy was infectious.
While the set list leaned heavily toward their most recent record, the band showed that they were not afraid to bring out their angst. “Ignorance” was all hard rage and adrenaline while “Playing God” felt like a subtle nod to their rough past. Most noteworthy, however, was the classic rendition of their 2007 hit “Misery Business.”
Before “raising a toast to misery” Williams commanded the crowd to close their eyes and remember a simpler time 10 years ago. Halfway through the teenage anthem, as most diehards know, Williams points out a lucky fan to go on stage and sing the last quarter of the song. Gestures like these keep Paramore shows fresh and genuine; the band wants to give back what the fans have given them.
The camaraderie continued as Paramore did something a true friend would do: hand the mic over to drummer Zac Farro so he could play a song from his other project, Half Noise. Mild technical difficulties aside—their fill-in drummer was off for a verse—the band truly embodied old friendship at this moment, laughing and dancing along.
At a Paramore show, the people on stage don’t have a brick wall in front of them. Everyone is an old pal along for the ride. As Williams said to the crowd before their last encore, “You are Paramore; that’s the truth.”