My Chemical Romance, April 28th

Back in 1994, I saw Helmet at Bogart’s in Cincinnati.  It was my first club show.  Prior to that, I’d only seen concerts in arenas and amphitheaters.  I was unprepared for just how incredible being stuck in a compressed sea of humanity can be when a kick ass rock band is playing.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I dislike people and tight spaces in almost equal measure, but even I can ignore lackluster conditions for a couple of hours so I can experience a great show.

Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater in Austin is a lot like Bogart’s.  It might be an outdoor venue, but it’s not much bigger than that space on Short Vine.  It does have the added bonus of barbeque, however, and the porta-lets are somehow cleaner than Bogart’s underground bathrooms.  I figured it would be the perfect venue to see a band like My Chem.  I was right.

Despite the proliferation of kids and teenagers (worse than people, not quite as bad as college students), it was one of the best shows I’ve seen in years. From the moment My Chem took the stage, they brought a high level of energy that got the entire venue shaking.  Bodies bounced, jostled, and swayed through the entire set.

I’ve seen My Chem three times in the past year, and not once did they appear to enjoy themselves as much as they did in Austin.  Maybe it was the crowd or the break from arenas.  Whatever the cause, there was a joy there I hadn’t seen before.  From bringing out the road crew to provide harmonica and cowbell support on “Teenagers” to the epic build at the beginning of “You Know What They Do to Guys like Us in Prison,” the show was sprinkled with more great rock moments than 1978.  Even without the full scale production of an arena show, My Chem made their set feel something close to mythic.

I spotted a ton of parents at the show, and I think that’s a good thing.  I’m sure it’s safer than dumping their kids off at a venue and hoping for the best, and I’m glad they’re taking an interest in their children.  I couldn’t help but wonder, however, what must have been going through their heads during the aforementioned build, when Gerard Way bent himself over the drum riser and delivered a dramatic presentation of a prison rape.  Did any kids receive a stern talking to post-show?  I hope not.  If nothing else, Way is pretty enough to forgive.