Concert Review: This Is Why We’re Still Into Paramore

Posted on: July 14, 2023
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By Stefny At The Disco

After all this time… Paramore has come back to play in Austin. Prior to their performance at 2022’s ACL Festival, the band hadn’t been back in the ATX since 2014’s Monumentour. Almost 9 years later, Paramore is back and bigger than ever, and Sunday night’s show was a testament to their star power, and staying power.

Let me start by saying that I do not envy the Moody Center janitorial staff that had to clean up after all that confetti last night and BOY do I hope they get paid well.

Paramore’s set opened with a poignant poem written by vocalist Hayley Williams to her younger self:

Good and also Evil
Kind and also Careful
Hurt and also Healing
Empathy and also Not My Problem
Bad Men and also Lovely Ones
Vulnerable and also Fuck Off
Vengeance and also Forgiveness
Stay Home and also See The World
Big Smile and also Depression
Distance and also Closer Than Ever
Intimacy and also No One Will Ever Truly Know Me
Straight and also Spectrum
Newborn and also Ancient Wisdom
Neons and also Neutrals
Hope and also Dystopia
Acceptance and also Rage
God and also Nothing
Everywhere and also Right Here
True Love and also Loneliness
Believing and also Seeing
Dreams Of The Future and also Painstakingly Present
Getting Better and also Enough
I would tell her to learn now that life is both/and. Hayley Williams

“You First,” the 6th track off their most recent release This Is Why, was the first song of the evening. Hayley was wearing an oversized yellow blazer – long, but not baggy, over black shorts with knee-high black boots. The energy was infectious and would carry on the entire performance. Right before the final chorus was the first of many confetti blasts. Red seems to be the primary colour for the evening, although it certainly wouldn’t be the only palette used.

Photo by Zachary Gray

Next up was track 2 “The News,” the content of which addresses the horrors we see every day on television and social media, rather across the world or right here in our own backyard. Hayley mentioned that she wanted us to take 2 hours to forget what’s happening in the outside world, something I hope we were all able to accomplish.

“That’s What You Get” off their breakthrough 2nd album Riot! came next, much to the excitement of the elder emos and long-time Parafans. It’s been 16 years *Titanic meme here* but I CANNOT listen to this song without remembering the clip on Fuse from Steven of Steven’s Untitled Rock Show doing backing vocals on this song.

“That’s What You Get” really amped up the crowd, more than they already were. We had some crowd participation, with Hayley taking a couple of vocal breaks to let the audience sing, and the first of many pyrotechnics!

I’m claustrophobic just looking at this. Photo by Zachary Gray

Next was “Playing God” off 2009’s brand new eyes, after which Hayley addressed the crowd to let us know that she had instigated a bit of friendly competition between the 3 Texas cities they were playing. They played Fort Worth the day before, and they took on the challenge, but Austin was far and away the winner so far. I’m sure they say that to every arena (tour success 101) but it still feels good to hear. Though Hayley and the band did seem overcome with emotion multiple times during the show, so I’m inclined to believe her.

Let it all out tonight. Dance it, cry it, scream it, sing it. – Hayley Williams

“Caught In The Middle” was the first song where I really noticed the shifting stage design. The lighting apparatus slowly descended closer to the stage and the three pieces moved up and down. I was mesmerized, honestly.

“Rose-Colored Boy,” also off 2017’s After Laughter, was a fun call-and-response song. Hayley would sing “Low-key, no pressure” and the crowd would follow with “Just hang with me and my weather!” I know this is a metaphor for mental health, but all I can think of are low-pressure weather systems. A fun treat was, at the end of the song, mixing in a bit of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”

Another new song, “Running Out Of Time,” followed. This is one of my faves from the new album. I’m rewatching my Instagram stories while writing this review, and good grief, I am just astounded by Hayley’s athleticism. She and touring guitarist Brian Robert Jones danced together a lot, and during this song alone, she was running and jumping and going insane. Honestly, the fact that any of them can perform with this much energy for a 2-hour set is incredible, but when also factoring in the vocals… a legend.

They also sold shirts with the X-rays printed on the front and “On doctor’s orders – excessive headbanging may lead to spinal fracture” on the back.

Hayley also said to send them the chiropractor bill so… I’m holding you to that.

Okay, now’s when everyone lost their collective minds. Imagine, if you will, 2008. The first film in a blockbuster saga is released, and along with it, a banging soundtrack curated by Alex Petsavas. Yes, my friends, I am clearly referring to Twilight. Paramore actually had two songs on the soundtrack, but the runaway hit of the album was “Decode.” Everyone who showed up to the venue in their Twilight shirts broke their necks headbanging (something Hayley would know about). Since her Twitter account no longer exists, I’ll have to settle for this extremely bootleg image to show you.

At this point, Hayley took a moment to address the audience and reminisce on the last 10 years. While touring their 2013 self-titled album, they sold out arenas for the first time. But only a couple. Now it’s all of them. They’ve grown as a band and as people in the last 10 years. And this song was an emotional one that they loved performing on that tour. “Last Hope.”

After “Last Hope,” Hayley raises her pinky in the air as the crowd follows suit and says “It’s not a pinky promise, it’s something far more derogatory. And it goes out to Greg Abbott again.” She dedicates the next song, “Big Man, Little Dignity” to the Texas governor. The lights move again. It’s visually very fun.

At the end of the song, Hayley runs off stage. There’s a bit of an interlude before she, Zac, and an unidentified keys player (sorry, it was dark!) reemerge in a raised platform upstage to play “Liar” and Hayley’s solo ballad “Crystal Clear.”

As the platform lowers, the bandmates descend back to the main stage to play “Hard Times” with beautifully vaporwave aesthetics akin to the After Laughter artwork. Hayley briefly introduces the Parafour, the touring members of the band. “Give it up for us. We sound so fucking good. They’re my favourite band, we’re my favourite band.” She says it’s okay to be proud of yourself and celebrate yourself. Love that attitude.

After “Told You So” and “Figure 8,” Hayley takes another break to chat. She reminds us of opening band The Linda Lindas, a group of literal teens and tweens now playing arenas with a band that got famous before some of them were even born (seriously, the drummer is 12 and the oldest member is 18). She reminisced about starting Paramore at the same age those kids did and again, how much they’ve grown and accomplished. She talked about writing her first ballad and being afraid to play it at festivals because they were always scheduled before some hardcore act. “You’re not hardcore unless you live hardcore,” she said. The ballad in question was the next song, “The Only Exception.”

Next, Zac and his bucket hat emerge from behind the kit to take center stage. He sang breakfast’s praises (yeah, idk either) and we all had a great time with his band HalfNoise’s song “Baby.”

Photo by Zachary Gray

As the show begins to wind down, Hayley talks about nostalgia. She’s 34 now and has been in the band over half her life. The song “Crave” off the latest record is about nostalgia, and boy was it relatable.

Speaking of nostalgia, can I interest you in some “Misery Business?” I don’t want to say it’s their biggest song (because Twilight was a movie that happened) but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone that doesn’t know this track. Especially among the elder crowd of time-hardened 30-something emos. Before the bridge, the band begins playing a long interlude while Hayley scopes the crowd. She finally chooses fans Natalie and Mia to join them on stage, hands over a microphone, and they sing the bridge and rest of the song together. I’m so jealous I can’t stand but also I probably would’ve puked and/or died if I had been on stage so I guess it’s fine.

They close out the main set with 2013’s “Ain’t It Fun,” but we all know an encore is to come. They hadn’t even played the title track from their new album yet!

Photo by Zachary Gray

After another brief interlude, the band returns, along with a group of fans behind the stage in the Paramoat. From anecdotes, it seems that these fans are chosen from the nosebleeds to come experience the show on a more personal level for these two songs. Hayley, now rocking an “Abort the Supreme Court” shirt, launches into “Still Into You,” a song that debuted at SXSW in 2013, and whose music video was filmed in this very city. It’s always played at this time, but it felt very special to Austin. Hayley dedicated the song to Paramore, and introduced the entire band again, this time with the 3 full-time members.

Photo by Zachary Gray

The encore wraps up with “This Is Why,” and the song wraps up with more confetti (and fire!), this time with extra special pieces with the words THIS and IS and WHY. I was able to snag WHY.

I remain dedicated to these points:

  • Paramore endures
  • Their conditioning is excellent
  • There’s no other frontwoman quite like Hayley

So if the question is “Ain’t It Fun,” the answer is and has always been “yes!”