Paramore / The Starting Line / Set Your Goals @ Sayreville 10/23

October 24, 2007

It’s been some time since I’ve been to a show in which the crowd is composed almost exclusively of teenage girls and parents–the last one that comes to mind was the Nintendo Fusion tour, with headliner Fall Out Boy (and, more importantly, openers including Motion City Soundtrack and Boys Night Out). The show was billed to start at 7:30, and with just three bands, Starland Ballroom shows billed to begin at 7:30 usually begin at 8PM. Perhaps because of the average age–fifteen, excluding the extremes (eight years old and seventy years old)–and it being a “school night”, the show started way early, and I walked in late for the band I have yet to see live and wanted to see most…

Eulogy Records’s Set Your Goals. Sonically, a mixture of Lifetime, The Movielife, New Found Glory, Saves The Day, and CIV, Set Your Goals provides dual vocal punk-pop influenced strongly by elements of hardcore-punk. I only caught their final songs, including “Echoes” and “To Be Continued”, which were absolutely great. The crowd wasn’t into them at all, aside from a small group of dedicated Set Your Goals fans who promptly left the venue after their set.

Philadelphia’s The Starting Line, an act that has sold out Starland Ballroom as headliners at least three times, played next to an enthusiastic crowd. Honestly, I wish the band wrote better songs, because their live show is something that young bands should aspire to match. Though they have some good songs (which they played, including album openers “Up and Go” and “Making Love To The Camera”), as a whole the band doesn’t appeal to me, so I watched from the bar. The band closed with “The Best Of Me”, walking off stage as the crowd alone finished singing the final ten seconds of the song. Big bands that aren’t headlining a show, take note: you don’t have an encore, and this is exactly how to end your set. Very impressive.

Paramore finally took the stage a little before 10PM, and they came out to a documentary snippet (played via video projector behind the band) of what looked like a European riot during the early twentieth century. Kicking off with Riot! opener “For A Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic”, the band wasted no time setting the mood for their set. Riot! closer “Born For This” surprisingly followed–it’s almost the perfect way to end a set–and the band kept rolling, playing their instruments perfectly while vocalist Hayley Williams sang pitch-perfect over them. The fifteen songs played (five from their debut, nine from Riot! including a b-side, and a cover):

Never Let This Go
Here We Go Again
My Heart
For A Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic
That’s What You Get
Misery Business
When It Rains
Let The Flames Begin
Born For This
Faces In Disguise (Sunny Day Real Estate cover)

The first day of the tour, Hayley was noticeably nervous between songs. At only eighteen years old, however, she is surprisingly mature and strong on stage, and I’m sure after a few dates on this tour she’ll settle into a rhythm. None of this affected her vocal performance, however, as she was pitch-perfect nearly all night.

“Faces In Disguise”, from Sunny Day Real Estate’s final album, The Rising Tide, was an excellent cover featuring Hayley on keyboard. A nice way to slow down the set, the band also used an emotional blend of footage in the background–typical Donnie Darko type blends of passing clouds, maturing flowers, rainfall, and other stock footage. Unfortunately, I may have been one of ten people in crowd of 2000 to know of the seminal emo/indie band, and certainly the only one within my range of vision (which was very good, standing at six feet tall and substantially taller than most of the crowd) to know the song. Hopefully the kids in the audience (who undoubtedly look up to Paramore) put down their Hawthorne Heights and helloGoodbye records and dig back to get Diary and other amazing albums of the early 1990s.

Hard-hitting “crushcrushcrush” followed, cranking the crowd’s energy back up to ten. Once their biggest single, “Pressure” followed; the band showed little sign of slowing down–they continued to perform flawlessly, in fact, getting better with every song before leaving the stage as the fans demanded an encore.

Riot! outtake “Decoy” kicked off the encore which was followed by Hayley hooking up a personal video camera to the video projector, taping the band and the crowd in the process. The camera still in hand for the final song, their current biggest hit to date, “Misery Business”, the band finished with a bang.

I picked up All We Know Is Falling sometime around summer 2005, and I couldn’t be more proud of this band’s progress since that time. Hayley has matured as a singer (and as a frontwoman) greatly since touring at only sixteen years old, and her bandmates are now playing flawlessly live. Transitioning from song to song, you wouldn’t know that the band has only been together for three years. If you’re looking for a pop-rock band with punk-pop influences, Paramore is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. Their albums are certainly a case for that argument, but the clase-closing evidence is their live show.