Over The Weekend: My Chemical Romance, Circa Survive, The Architects at House of Blues

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My Chemical Romance, Circa Survive and The Architects
The House of Blues
May 21, 2011

(Just Barely) Better Than: Staying home and watching the Mavericks beat the Thunder.

New Jersey's alt-rock outfit My Chemical Romance put on a fierce and fun performance in front of a packed and sweaty, multi-generational horde at the House of Blues on Saturday night, the first of the band's two performances at the venue this weekend. Beginning with "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)," Gerard Way and the rest of the crew played with a youthful exuberance that belied the band's decade-old career.

Perhaps due to the fact that Danger Days, the band's most recent album, is a party-oriented, straight-up rock record, both band and crowd seemed ready to play out the album's light-hearted themes.

"Are you people ready to dance?" Way asked before My Chemical Romance launched into "Planetary (GO!)," by far the most dance-friendly song the band has ever recorded.

The crowd was happy to answer the singer's question with a resounding "Yes," as teenagers and their tag-along moms bounced along with the song's disco pulse.

Speaking of teenagers: By the time the band got around to their song "Teenagers," many of the moms had taken a seat on the floor at the back of the venue, looking as if it was way past their bedtime. Chances are, it was.

The band seemed to pick up on this (lack of) emotion and promptly concluded their set.

In the end, My Chemical Romance played an energetic two hours of music that seemed to satisfy fans old and new. As much as some folks have bitched about the band's lighter direction on the recent material, there were no complaints at this show. Whether it was classic older material such as "Welcome to the Black Parade" or a new cut such as "Sing," the crowd responded with boisterous approval.

But, even hours before My Chemical Romance hit the stage, two fine warm up acts had gotten the crowd sufficiently lathered up to fully embrace the headliner.

Starting things off was Kansas City's The Architects. Playing meat-and-potatoes Midwestern rock with an interesting Clash influence, these guys got a hearty reception from the surprisingly large, early-arriving crowd. Many were impressed enough to head to the merchandise table in order to pick up a CD or two. Next up were Philly's Circa Survive, a band that was last in town opening up for Linkin Park at the AAC. In the more intimate confines of the House of Blues, this talented five-piece was able to better present its fairly complicated, progressive rock. If not for the band's deafening volume, this stuff could easily be classified as jazz fusion.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I am not the biggest My Chemical Romance fan. I've found some of the band's earlier material overly gloomy and pretentious. But, on stage, these guys have definite charisma. And the new material, despite what any fan may suggest, is top notch alt-rock that borders on danceable pop. Even after a decade, these guys could just be getting started.

Random Note: Seeing that the restaurant side of the House of Blues was booked for a private party, it was nearly impossible to find a television that was showing the Mavericks game inside the musical venue. Sure, I know, I was there to check out My Chemical Romance and a couple of cool warm up acts, but what's a true Mavericks fan to do but try to do a little double-dipping? Problem was, every television in the place was showing a bad video stream off the stage. Finally, I found one grainy TV in the gift shop where I, along with a couple of other true fans, cheered the Mavs on to victory.

By The Way: My Chemical Romance is not an emo band. OK?

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