Live Music Double Feature: A Weekend At Mattress Firm Amphitheater (Part One- Paramore’s After Laugh
We usually don’t combine two live music experiences together to write one piece. However, sometimes when you go to two amazing shows in the same city, at the same venue, within 48 hours of each other, you realize certain things point to a double feature.
Our unlikely journey started at around 6:30 pm in the general parking lot of Mattress Firm Amphitheatre (formerly Sleep Train Amphitheatre, as I’ll always refer to it in my heart) in San Diego. Crossing the road and passing venue security led us to section 202, where we found our place and watched hundreds of people shuffle around the amphitheatre as we waited for the show to begin. Paramore fans got creative with their outfit choices, wearing a wide variety of t-shirts featuring everything from the 2005 Warped Tour lineup to After Laughter cover art, as well as bright colors (or all black everything), colorful 90s plaid sets (or full on Riot!-esque grunge), dazzling shimmery makeup (or smudged black eyeliner), and the occasional beret (or studded belt). As I sat in my section, with my bright “Hard Times” music video inspired makeup and colorful outfit, looking out at them, two things were clear to me: one, that no matter how many years had passed or what era first caught their attention, these fans loved this band, two, that Paramore felt like a family.
I snapped out of my whimsical thoughts (encouraged by the strange Disney/Fantasmic type music that was playing during all of Foster The People’s setup) when the lighthearted tempos and twinkling crescendoed into silence and the lights turning off. Foster The People made their anticipated entrance and immediately started things off with “Lotus Eater”, a high energy track off their latest album with a toe-tapping beat and an extremely relatable cutoff line of, “I’m sorry I was late, I didn’t want to come”. Personally, I went into this show having no expectations for Foster The People. I hadn’t listened to any of their stuff since 2011 radio hit “Pumped Up Kicks” (which twelve year old me thought was god-awful and mildly terrifying), and was ready to feel neutral about the band live. However, I was happily proven wrong! These guys put on a great show, bringing a photogenic stage setup, a lead singer who loves to jump and dance around stage, and a connected, intimate feel even though they were playing a large amphitheater. They’ve won me over (by the end of their set they even had me singing and dancing along to “Pumped Up Kicks”!), and I will definitely be seeing them again.
To be completely honest, I feel like I’ve been living under a rock of some sorts since I had no clue Foster The People has been making great indie music this whole time, ever since 2011’s Torches (“Helena Beat”, “Don’t Stop”, “Houdini”) up until last year’s Sacred Hearts Club (“Lotus Eater”, “A Beginner’s Guide To Destroying The Moon”, “Sit Next To Me”). Foster The People has that trendy type of sound that leaves you feeling good, placed in your very own B-list indie teen movie. They bring the aesthetics, you’re the main character, and everything is going to be alright in the end.
Following Foster The People’s set was Paramore, what we’d all been waiting for. Hayley Williams and her band popped onto the stage, opening with “Grudges” (a great choice, as it’s much more energetic live than you’re lead to believe on record) as the bleach blonde lead jumped and danced around the stage without a care in the world. Paramore’s energy is, as always, extremely contagious, getting everyone up out of their seat and dancing their hearts out in no time. More recent favorites included “Still Into You” and “Rose Colored Boy”, which showcase extremely pretty stage lighting and Williams’ astounding vocal range and live talent. Although the setlist was mainly focused on After Laughter (playing 11/12 of the album’s tracks live), there was a little something for everyone. “That’s What You Get” and “Ignorance” will always go hard, and “Ain’t It Fun” is always a great tune to scream and clap along to next to with thousands of fans. Furthermore, this show was unique because of its constant mini-intermissions and mood shifts. Paramore has the versatility to belt out rage filled classics, bolt off stage, then quickly return for an emotional acoustic cover of “26” that’s painfully real, raw, and absolutely beautiful.
And lastly (not to harp on the band’s most popular song but), we need to talk about “Misery Business”. Described by Williams as Paramore’s “problem child” song, “Misery Business” is just one of those songs that you need to hear live at least once in your lifetime. It’s anger, it’s sass, it’s catharsis, it’s a tribute to everywhere the band’s been and everywhere they still have to go, and it intertwines with your soul. I always joke that everytime I hear Miz Biz live ten years gets added to my lifespan- which is probably an exaggeration… we’ll see- but there are truly few things better than being with Paramore and a sea of strangers, thousands of other people just like you, that have all found themselves in the same place screaming those iconic lines. In every sense, Miz Biz solidifies the sense that Paramore is a family (at least for that moment).
As the bridge of the song neared, I stood in my section and watched tons of signs rise up from the pit. Fans holding up poster boards of different sizes, colors, and messages all urging Paramore to select them as the lucky fan who gets to come on stage and finish the song with her. I noticed the largest sign, being held up and jumping with excitement as Williams neared it, and told “yes you, with the green hair” to come up. The wild energy and green hair belonged to a fan named Devin, who quickly ran onstage, hugged Williams, and showed her their matching tattoos. It appeared like Devin had prepared her whole life for this moment, as she effortlessly sang the difficult riffs of the song and showed off some badass coordinated dance moves with Williams. This moment was obviously indescribably special for her, but also to every single other person in the audience, as we were all screaming and cheering, impressed and happy for her as we all watched her have the absolute time of her life.
Paramore is one of those acts that you can’t help but love live. Their energy is contagious and difficult to match anywhere else, and you always walk out of a show feeling buzzed- electrified by the music and unable to say much other than “Wow, that was awesome!”. We left the venue that night dancing to the “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” outro and convinced of one thing: when the opportunity presents itself, always see Paramore live.
The After Laughter Summer Tour was great, but San Diego had way more in store for us that weekend. Click here to read about how the universe pushed me to exactly the place I’m supposed to be, under the stage lights of 30 Seconds To Mars’ Monolith Tour.