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Fan Tour Report: Cleveland


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By. Cassie

“No talking shit!” was the playful threat about this review that Ray Toro left me with when I met the band for the second time this weekend after soundcheck at the House of Blues in Cleveland, Ohio. A chorus of laughs and an “Ooohh!” rose from the members of MCR as I joked back that I just might talk shit. I shook my head and reassured them: “As if I have a single bad thing to say about you guys.” Toro then shook my hand again, sealing the deal, telling me that he knew I wouldn’t with a smile.

But it’s not just because of a joking pact with Toro that I wont “talk shit” about My Chemical Romance or anyone who works with them. The truth is: I can’t think of one bad thing to say about the people who made April 17, 2011, hands down, the very best day of my life.

In the morning when my friends and I arrived to the area in Cleveland where the House of Blues was, something obviously stood out. Decorated by painted domino masks, vibrantly-colored hair, creatively conglomerated multi-colored costumes and true, vibrant Killjoy spirit, the monochrome city had obviously been infiltrated by our rogue Zone gang. As I watched a group of fans round a corner, I thought with amusement of some sort of raid in Battery City.

Despite the chilling wind in which fans had waited, their spirit was not extinguished before My Chemical Romance took the stage that night. Though, some may have gotten a little too much spirit coursing through and bumping into them, which caused near-passing-out in the heat of the crowd pretty early in the show. Still, the heat at the House of Blues was nothing like that of The Aragon in Chicago, where the band had played 2 days before Cleveland and for which I had written my first report of the weekend. Still, a woman named Thursday, who stood next to me at the barricade and had gone to both shows, remarked that though the House of Blues’ capacity was far smaller than The Aragon’s (less than half the size, to be precise), she felt just as much pressure coming from the excited crowd there as she had felt up front at the bigger of the two venues.

When MCR came out to “Look Alive, Sunshine,” the crowd blew up and surged forward, causing the metal barricade to bow out under the bodies that were pressed to it. People rushed in from the sides, squeezing us together, contorting normal body shapes to something quite unnatural in the sea of people. After having felt the crowd from pretty much every position in Chicago then standing up front in Cleveland, I know there is no place I’d rather be at a show. You feel ill, constricted, breathless and cramped the entire time, but the music hits you first. You’re closest to the energy. For bands like My Chemical Romance, who have such a connection with fans, the exchange is immediate, and you can even make occasional, semi-awkward eye contact with the members of the band.Despite the heat, struggling to stay in place and fighting not to pass out, fans raged for My Chemical Romance, and the band threw it right back at us: Frank in the form of spitting massive amounts of water right on us and thrashing about; Gerard with jerky movements of his shoulders and hips and perfectly timed pantomimes to the music; Ray who, despite his injured foot was all smiles and even hopping slightly and Mikey who often looked straight at those of us in the crowd. And, of course, Mike Pedicone provided the amazing rhythmic backbone to it all while James Dewees propelled the set forward with his brilliantly-crafted between-song keyboard pieces.

I think one of my favorite parts of the shows I experienced this weekend was Gerard Way’s asking to see which audience members were experiencing their first MCR show and who had liked the band for a long time. He thanked us all for coming and thanked the older fans for being nice to the new ones, stomping his booted foot on the elitism that festers like a frothy, mucky hate-stew at shows of many other bands.

The wildness of the crowd was such that those of us in Cleveland were proclaimed a bunch of “bad-asses” by Gerard during the encore. For our bad-assery, we were handsomely rewarded with “Our Lady of Sorrows,” which I believe was a tour first and was what ended up being my favorite part of the set. I nearly died when they started to play it, not only because the crowd got really rough, but because I had been hoping they would play it since they had sound-checked it in Chicago a couple days before. Before “Teenagers,” Gerard had asked, “What do you guys want to hear?” which lead to a comedic, sea of babbling from the floor and balcony. My contribution to that babble had been: “SORROWS!! SORROWS!!” – YES!

Setlist:Look Alive, SunshineNa Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)Give ‘Em Hell, KidPlanetary (GO!)Hang ‘Em HighVampire MoneyMamaThe Only Hope For Me Is YouHouse of WolvesSummertimeNeat Neat Neat [The Damned cover]I’m Not Okay (I Promise)DESTROYAWelcome To The Black ParadeTeenagersThe Ghost of You [New Version]Vampires Will Never Hurt YouHelena-ENCORE-Our Lady of SorrowsBulletproof HeartI don’t think it was solely post-concert/post-meeting-MCR euphoria I was feeling when I left the Cleveland show dripping sweat, in pain and with a renewed awareness of the small and wonderful things surrounding me. I imagined myself at 14, a young, sad and under-confident new fan of My Chemical Romance. If only I could go back in time to let myself know that I would get an opportunity like this some day. I wouldn’t believe me. Driving home from the show with my friends, I looked to the sky from the back seat and could think only: “Life is beautiful.”

Thank you so much, MCR. You are so humble that you probably don’t even fully grasp just how positive your impact on fans’ lives is. You are my ultimate inspiration, and I learn something new through loving your band every single day. On April 17, 2011, at my 17th MCR show (lucky coincidence), I learned to see the world from a perspective I had lost for many months and didn’t think I would regain. Thank you for reminding me. Thank you for being so kind. Thank you for being loudly who you are and encouraging the same of us. Thank you.

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