“Let’s raise a toast to us,” said Hayley Williams, the lead singer of Paramore, at their concert at L.A.’s Greek Theatre on Sept. 26, “and more importantly, to misery.”
All at once the entire audience at the sold-out show screamed in excitement as the band started playing their 10-year-old hit “Misery Business.” The crowd, a mix of teens and people who were teens 10 years ago, sang word for word along with Williams.
“I’m in the business of misery, let’s take it from the top!”
Paramore performed a passionate, electrifying show that blended both old and new hits. Although the band was touring for their fifth album After Laughter, which was released in May, they treated the audience with longstanding hits like “That’s What You Get,” “Brick By Boring Brick,” “Ignorance,” and of course, “Misery Business.”
Paramore has been my favorite band since 6th grade, and now, at age 19, this was my first time seeing them live. There was something truly magical and profound about seeing the band at this particular time in my life and being able to reflect on how I’ve grown and what I’ve been through since age 12. The lyrics and songs still mean so much to me and have helped me through my own “Hard Times” (the first single off the new album) by allowing me to cry when I needed to cry and dance when I needed to dance.
Paramore’s frontwoman, Williams, has kept the band alive. Despite lawsuits, break-ups, and drama (which Williams referred to at the concert as the “soap opera” of Paramore,) the band still released After Laughter, which is the ultimate survivor of “Hard Times.” The entire album is a brutally honest and authentic expression of overcoming hopelessness and pain.
After Laughter definitely has a different sound than the emo punk that defined Paramore in past years, with more of an 80s pop reminiscent of Blondie. But looking at the audience dance and sing to the new hits just as loudly as the old ones shows that there is no sign of disappointment.
“Oh boy, a lot of feelings.” Williams said to the audience before playing a slower song called “Hate to See Your Heart Break.” “We tend to write an angsty song or two. Hopefully as we get older… we can write songs that make us feel more vulnerable. I think right now it’s more important that we try to connect and maybe not use anger to express ourselves. It’s places like this that we can gather and celebrate music and the fact that we’ve survived thus far.”
Surviving “Hard Times” is the theme of After Laughter, and the audience, along with the band, felt the emotion and authenticity Williams brought to the stage. It was refreshing and beautiful to sing to raw songs of heartbreak and hopelessness with the ultimate knowledge that hope is always attainable and always triumphant, as their sog “26” reminds us: “Hold onto hope if you’ve got it, don’t let it go for nobody. They say that dreaming is free, I wouldn’t care what it cost me.”
“This is what we are,” Williams gestures toward the audience right before the very last song. “This is Paramore.”
And when “Ain’t It Fun” began, my best friend and I let it go and danced our broken hearts out. At this moment in time, I was not “Fake Happy” as we danced under a sky of stars to music that has gotten us through it all and will continue to.