The line stretched all the way down Hollywood Boulevard, around the corner of Gower Street and back behind a parking garage. At 7:30p.m. it looked like there were more people in the line than could fit into The Fonda. Over 200 people stood there, (mostly girls, mostly under 21) waiting impatiently for 8p.m. to arrive, for the doors to open, and the show to begin. Why, you may ask, would hundreds of people wait in line for hours just to see a concert? One answer: Gerard Way.
Years ago the Daily Mail called him the leader of an emo cult. They may have jumped the gun a bit on the whole death cult business, but they did not over exaggerate the type of control Gerard Way wields over his fans. It’s as though he has the Elder Wand, but much like Harry Potter, Way doesn’t use his immense power for evil. His fans would follow him to the ends of the earth of their own free will. It was obvious during the height of My Chemical Romance and is even more obvious now as hundreds of fans waited in line for a show full of songs barely a month old.
The people around me in line brought back a special type of nostalgia. It’s the same kind of nostalgia you get when you go back to that special summer snack stand. You wait for it for what feels like years, (even though it’s only months) and every year you forget about the weathered steps, or the squeaky spring door, but those things endear you more to the place than anything else. Every year it’s new and exciting, but still feels comforting and welcoming. That’s exactly what waiting in a Gerard Way concert line feels like to a former MCR concert addict.
The casual conversations about concert etiquette, and MCR flow organically between complete strangers. The jokes about overly excited 16 year olds who skipped school to wait in line all day, slip off the tongue before anyone looks around to see if they’ve offended anyone. All the memories of spending hours in line with complete strangers (who sometimes become lifelong friends) came flooding back in bursts. Like stepping back into the snack shack, comforting, slightly new, and damn exciting.
Inside the Fonda looked exactly like the inside of a Spanish Bascilica. Though the art covering the walls was much more M.C. Escher than Renaissance painter. Strange and absurdist art which jived so perfectly with Gerard Way’s aethstetic.
At 9 p.m. the opener took the stage. A group of five guys, dressed like 1993 Seattle meets SoCal irony, took the stage. They were named The Eeries, a band from Los Angeles with hair long and luscious enough to be in a Garnier Fructis commercial. Their look matched the sound, which filled the room quite well. It was a combination of early surf music and the slow, heavy guitars of northwest grunge. And while the sound leaned heavily on Pearl Jam the lyrics relied on their punk influences. Their closing song rang out “I wanna be your girlfriend” over and over again.
When they left the stage half an hour later the anxious excitement level immediately rose. If there were an audience anxiety meter it would have exploded. Like a mercury barometer on a 120 degree day, this place was about to burst. Everything fizzled and tingled with antici… pation.
At 10:05 p.m. exactly the lights dimmed and the guitar began to hum from behind the curtain. When the curtain rose the screams could have deafened people at Graumann’s Chinese theater.
On Way’s album the opening song, “The Bureau”, sounds like a rolicking jaunt through Pink Floyd’s The Wall, however when performed live the electronic tones transfer more on the Philip Glass side than Pink Floyd. But the actual sound of the song didn’t matter to the fans. They were there to see Way in all his quirky glory. During his hour and ten minute set the entire population of the world shrunk down to the people in that room, and that man, and his music.
After the opening song the show falls into the uncanny valley for me. Way strutted around the stage the same way he did almost a decade ago during his height of touring. Every MCR show I ever attended flashed before my eyes, like one giant montage of epic rock and roll shows. His arms flailed, his hands gestured incoherently to the music, and his eyes were alight with pure joy. A type of joy the fans hadn’t seen in years. While the feeling was very My Chemical Romance, the supporting band only held one familiar face (James DeWees, the wonderful keyboard player). The other members of MCR weren’t there with him playing to their hearts content, two of them were backstage though, watching their former front man soar.
It’s clear he honed the performance and put great thought into his stage banter. Between his dance-y, fuzzy, rock songs he took the time to thank his fans, his record producers, everyone at Warner Brothers records.
“Thank you for allowing me to continue to make music. It means a lot.” said Way. He hugged the mic stand, his blueberry suit and strawberry creme shirt drenched in sweat. The sentiment was certainly returned by the cheering fans. It meant just as much to them that he’s performing again as it did to him.
That’s what make a Gerard Way show so different from any other show. The fans and the singer both feel the need deep, deep down in the core of their being, to be in this experience. Because it’s not as much a concert as an experience.
He referenced his ongoing Twitter presence by telling all the fans to put out good vibes.
“You’re all good-vibe-aholics,” said Way. “Do you wanna hear a song that was only put out in Japan? Why the fuck not, right?”
It’s the caring for the fans that turned Way into the leader he was known as. But it’s the music they keep coming back for.
As the show progressed each song became better than the last. When he began “Juarez” the aggressive, passionate sound from Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge came back like a tidal wave of guitars and bass lines.
The peak occurred during “Get The Gang Together” when he brought an ecstatic fan on stage to jam on the tambourine. She killed it on the percussion front. The song radiated from the stage with the same ferocious intensity of Sex Bob-Omb trying to destroy Gideon. The music pulsed with the heart beats of every devoted fan in the joint. The guitar hummed along with the keyboard.
In The Perks of Being a Wallflower the narrator intones that “in that moment we were infinite” which sounds wicked cheesy, but still applied none the less. When Way crooned out during “Action Cat” “Did you miss me? Cause I missed you.” he certainly meant it, and the audience returned the sentiment right back. We did fucking miss him.
BONUS QUOTES FROM GERARD WAY:
- “Who came out last night? Who thinks we can have a better time tonight? You just gotta push a little more. Just a little more.”
- “There’s a lot of young women out there and I wanted to say something special. I thought about it all day. I know you went through a lot of shit and go through a lot of shit. I think it’s particularly rough right now because the d white dudes in charge of everything are scared of you. You just gotta face on through this shit” plus or minus a sentence.
- When he picked Alexa from the crowd to play tambourine: “Can you get her? Yeah girl in the black shirt she’s kind of freaking out”
- “I’m gonna do my thing with them. You hold it down.”
- “My mouth got super dry. Like all you marijuana smokers. Super dry.”