If you've heard My Chemical Romance's bombastic new single "Welcome to the Black Parade" -- a symphonic screamo pastiche of Queen's arena pomp and the Beatles' filigree, filtered through the Jersey quartet's own brain-shaking crunch -- you might think the pop-punk titans are entering their "difficult" phase.
A mock press conference now showing on the band's MySpace page (if you have the mettle to endure the whole of this pretentious Q&A session) will do little to convince you otherwise. Among other things, they discuss the alter egos and the concepts (death, mostly) informing their forthcoming album The Black Parade, due October 24th.
Thankfully, these highfalutin' talking points have yet to permeate the band's onstage persona. Judging from the very un-difficult hour-long throttling My Chem inflicted upon a batshit-crazy crowd at Philadelphia's Trocadero Theatre last night for the MTV2-sponsored "$2 Bill" concert (airing Saturday September 16th), we won't see many distraught fans threatening to leap from atop mall escalators.
MTV cameras and a predictable crowd warm-up by the film crew notwithstanding, it was frontman Gerard Way who got the crowd all lathered. Slithering across the stage in his Sgt.-Pepper-by-way-of-Hot-Topic jacket and sporting closely cropped platinum hair that suggests a more poster-friendly Johnny Rotten, Way set the crowd on fire with the flailing set opener, "Give 'Em Hell Kid." (This new look is purportedly Way's attempt to inhabit the body of the album's sickly central character, The Patient.) The martial drum intro to "Cemetery Drive" slowed things down just enough that everyone in the audience could pump their fists in unison.
These staples, plucked from the band's first major-label album, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge -- along with the surge of melodic angst that was "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" and the spastic finale "Helena" -- were the crowd-pleasing rallying cries. Still, the handful of new tracks selected from The Black Parade more than held their own.
If not instant classics, songs like the aforementioned "Welcome to the Black Parade" (which received an altogether decent stripped-down treatment) and the lighter-friendly ballad "Cancer" (not as dour as the title would imply) will assuredly distance My Chem further from the Warped band pack. And that's a good thing.
A pair of punch-drunk, hooky shuffles stood out among the newer songs. The crowd instantly latched onto the la-la-la refrain in "Dead!" (perhaps owing to the magic of file-sharing). A "Mr. Brownstone"-style intro and "Detroit Rock City" kicks gave "House of Wolves" a joyous arena-rock feel. Both sounded fairly excellent upon first listen.
If this is the "difficult" path My Chemical Romance is headed down, it's totally okay. Promise.