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Arts + CultureMusicLive Shots: My Chemical Romance reunion tour summoned nostalgia—and...

Live Shots: My Chemical Romance reunion tour summoned nostalgia—and ache

Oakland is still not OK (we promise).

As My Chemical Romance wraps up the band’s first tour since its breakup in 2013, it’s hard not to think back to the Bay Area stop at Oakland Arena on October 5. As on most autumn nights in the Bay, the sun set early and the air was cold, but that did little to dim smiles on the eager faces swarming outside of the venue, their owners more than ready to see the New Jersey emo quartet take the stage.

Many of the MCR fans dressed up in honor of the era in which they first discovered the band. There were colorful bandit outfits celebrating 2010’s Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. Attendees sported marching band attire in tribute to 2006’s The Black Parade. There were even a few goth ballerinas numbers in homage to the band’s breakout album Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, the release which transformed the scruffy Jersey punks into TRL sweethearts, and had them rubbing elbows with Carson Daly.

Few bands can disappear for nearly a decade and come back with the welcome reception that was on display that night. Fans sang along as frontman Gerard Way belted out deep cuts like “Skylines and Turnstiles” from the band’s first album, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love. The show, which was initially set to take place in October 2020, was one of the many concerts rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After a two-year wait, it was easy to spot the anticipation fans felt for My Chem’s reunion. Thousands chanted “MCR, MCR, MCR!” before Gerard, bassist Mikey Way, lead guitarist Ray Toro, and rhythm guitarist Frank Iero even set foot on stage.

The show kicked off with a new song, “The Foundations of Decay,” as a red curtain dropped, revealing a set design of destroyed buildings and urban ruin. “Will you welcome your extinction?” the song’s lyrics ask, describing a man in a world of disarray, doing nothing to stop the anguish and pain happening around him. Concluding with “Get up, coward,” it offers a clear message: the world is in shambles, and the only way to get out of it is to keep going. Perhaps, that’s why the band used it to welcome their fans to the show—a way to acknowledge the harshness the world has experienced in recent years, before taking the audience through a catalogue’s worth of concept albums.

These are songs, now full of nostalgia, that allow teens who are now adults to feel as though they are a part of a different world. A world in which Way sings of creating a place for “the broken, the beaten, and the damned” in “Welcome to the Black Parade,” whose first three notes were all fans needed before greeting it with a deafening cheer. In this reality, it is acceptable to not put on a brave face. A metaphorical space turned to flesh as the thousands in attendance chanted in affirmation of the chorus of “I’m Not Okay (I Promise.)”

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