Middle and high-school girls wore more Paramore shirts than the merch booth supplied. Gone are the days when it was taboo to wear the shirt of the band to its show. Paramore, Metric and Hellogoodbye fans do not adhere to the rules of cool. Instead, they punch them in the face with voracious fandom and starry-eyed admriation for Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams.
Hellogoodbye, hailing from Huntington Beach, Calif. and lead by Forrest Kline, closed its set with "Everything is Debatable." The track is the first single off its album released this past Tuesday. Hellogoobye in recent years has swapped auto-tuned novelty and albums titled "Zombie! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!" for more adult fare. Its last album, the terrific and mature, "Would It Kill You?" was themed after Kline's marriage. The album documents how Kline met his wife, and how he envisioned the future from their first years together to their inevitable old age as pruned human fruits. "Everything is Debatable" looks to unite Hellogoobye's synth glory of yore with Kline's adulthood. Judged from the tracks that prevailed last night, Hellogoodbye is on the right path.
Metric sauntered onto stage with the discordant growl of "Black Sheep"'s multi-instrumental feedback. Metric, who originally hail from Toronto and whose first album arrived in the states in 2003, pulled songs off several albums, and complied a set list of its best songs: "Help, I'm Alive," "Breathing Underwater," "Gold Guns Girls."
Animated bassist Joshua Winstead wagged his guitar left and right whilst he howled lyrics as frontwoman Emily Haines covered both sides of the stage with ample swagger. She donned jet-black short-shorts over muscular legs that glistened with the sheen of baby oil. Already an admirable package of nubile physique and sexy, mutable voice, Haines best asset last night was her attitude. If Metric's goth-aided elctro-pop needed a moment to fully realize itself, it would have been when Haines posed for a photographer. She knelt down before him, her eyes ablaze like a fearsome tiger, and glared at him until his finger ceased to click.
After a tumultuous last three years of heady lineup transformations and gratuitous gossip, Paramore has morphed into a pop-rock juggernaut. Spearheaded by the approachable and insanely likeable Hayley Williams, the band has acquired legions of female fans. Its audience last night was heavy on the estrogen, but its male representatives proved as diehard as the girls. It was difficult to discern boy screams from girls screams, because everyone screeched with the excitement of an owl that has found its prey. It felt like being stabbed in the eardrums. The point is, the people last night love Paramore, and, from what was experienced, Paramore loves them too.
The ballistic, 20-song set began with "Grow Up" off its latest, self-titled record. After the curtain plummeted to the floor, Paramore stood on three separate risers placed in from of three monoliths that beamed white light onto the audience. Williams, Jeremy Davis and Taylor York strode down to the stage all smiles and played with relentless bombast. Williams shimmied and rolled her hips with the same level of bravura as the perpetually inappropriate (and fun) Rihanna. Once the surprise of Williams' adept slow-cooked movements wore off, focusing on Paramore's other members proved difficult still. Williams is a bombastic frontwoman: She ran from right to left stage, made eye contact and pointed at every fan who caught her eye. Between songs she talked to the audience with the exitement of a best friend who desperately missed her platonic other half. During songs, she sang her face off and routinely played with other members of Paramore and the band. All in all, Williams captivated the audience by being a sunny, shining explosion of delight.
The production level on Paramore's North American headlining tour trumped the majority of shows I've seen in St. Louis. Behind Williams, Davis and York, splintered poles of light flickered with different tempos during songs. The three monoliths Paramore appeared to sprout from earlier played live footage with videogame-like filters that obfuscated Paramore with a disorienting blur of live-action energy. The value was not just designated to Paramore's awesome setup. The band itself did ample work to insure a multi-dimensional show.
Paramore divided its set with four interludes where Williams and York (on ukulele) purred acoustic accompaniments to its full-length songs. Prior to "crushcrushcrush" Williams explained that she felt like dancing, but did not want to do it alone. Doubting her prowess, she asked for the house lights to come up on different sections of the crowd. Williams cajoled them into copious wiggles and giggles -- girlfriend proved herself a charmer.
On the refrain of "Ain't It Fun" the band brought out Bayless High School's choir, all 20 or so members were clad in cranberry satin robes and sang "Don't go cryin' to yo mama/Cause you're all alone/In the real world." Somewhere in the mix, Davis snuck in a plucky bass solo as Williams and York worked the crowd. In the middle of "Misery Business" Williams was given a portrait of the band an audience member had painted. She also brought a member of the crowd onstage who she explained she had enjoyed watching all night and shared lead vocals with her. Williams posed with a wide grin and flashed a peace sign as her guest snapped photos.
For its finale, Paramore played its current single, "Still Into You." The song, which might be the only Top 40 contender since Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" to focus on a functional relationship, was a killer closer. Paramore brought it home by collapsing a hammock of blue and yellow balloons onto the crowd. We all swatted them around and towards each other as we sang along with Williams about enduring affection. Confetti shaped like butterflies fell around us. It was impossible to be overwhelmed as we were doused with jubilance and glee. Instead, it was simply enveloping.
Earlier in the night Williams welcomed patrons witnessing their first Paramore show "to the family." In Paramore's world, family is people who give love and accept love in return. With all the love at the Fabulous Fox last night, it was a pleasure to be inducted into the Parmore family.