My Chemical Romance

MCRBack in middle school, “scene” genre was considered part of mainstream popular music. Oh the nostalgia when rock music was played on the Top 40 radio. It saddens me I didn’t begin to explore the “scene” genre until 2008. At this point, this genre’s popularity was slowly waning within mainstream music. Rock was beginning to become a niche music genre again.

My Chemical Romance released their third studio album, The Black Parade, back in October 2006. The Black Parade is essentially a rock opera album. I was well-aware of this band’s popularity among my fellow school peers. Yet, I wasn’t willing to give this band a chance. It wasn’t the right time in my life.

My love for rock genre music has exponentially grown since 2006. Of course I only discovered some “scene” artists several years later. In certain circumstances, time better allows you to embrace something with a more open-mind perspective. I can now approach certain pop-punk artists from the mid-2000s I had previously refused to listen to. My Chemical Romance definitely falls into this category.

One of my college friends is a huge fan of My Chemical Romance. She had often recommended this band to me. She swore they fit well within my rock genre musical taste. But I was still very hesitant.

So what exactly convinced me to listen to My Chemical Romance’s music? In short, my obsession with Andy Black’s solo album, The Shadow Side, played a key role. On Andy Black’s solo album, the co-founders of My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way and Mikey Way, contributed to the track “Louder Than Your Love”. Gerard co-wrote the song lyrics. Mikey played bass guitar parts for the song. Somehow, this finally convinced to listen to My Chemical Romance. I cannot even tell you the reason why for this sudden, impromptu decision. Only took me ten years before I was willing to give this band’s music a chance. It is strange how some things work out.

I listen to my fair share of rock bands. Generally, I’ve gotten used to tenor vocal ranges when it comes to lead vocalists. Yet, I can still differentiate the various tenor vocals among the lead singers of my bias bands. Of course, some lead vocalists have unique singing vocals. Black Veil Bride’s Andy Biersack and My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way falls into this category. Andy Biersack has a beautifully deep raspy baritone vocal tone. Gerard Way has an intriguing sing-screaming tenor vocal tone. Both are definitely acquired tastes and not everyone’s cup of tea.

Almost two weeks ago, I began my journey to discover My Chemical Romance’s music on Spotify. They have an extensive selection of their full studio albums, live albums, and EP albums. Best of all, they have all the uncensored versions of their songs. Censorship of profanity in bias rock band’s music is one of my biggest pet peeves. Among my bias rock artists, there isn’t that much strong profanity overall. Typically “clean” versions of explicit rock songs are pretty shitty. It doesn’t even properly edit out the swear word. You can still figure out what the swear word is despite the censorship within the song. Apologies for that slightly off-topic rant.

Anyway, I created a My Chemical Romance playlist on my Spotify. I was a bit thrown off by the sing-screaming vocals of Gerard Way at first. Some of lead singers in my favorite rock bands have sing-screaming vocals. Red, Linkin Park. AFI, Black Veil Brides, Thirty Seconds to Mars, and Three Days Grace to name a few. But nothing quite like Gerard Way’s vocals. His sing-screaming vocals are distinctive. Pretty clean cut in regards of easily making out the lyrics in MCR’s songs. But not so refined it feels too polished. Yet, it conveys a wide range of intensely raw emotions. Not only different types of frustrated or angry emotions. After two or three days, I got accustomed to the lead singer’s unique vocals.

Now I comprehend why people love My Chemical Romance. Out of most “scene” genre artist, this band has heavier tones injected into their music. I tend to gravitate to bands whose music has darker undertones. Even many years later, I cannot explain why this is the case with some of my rock genre music. Some things in life are just inexplicable conundrums. Anyway, I’ve really come to love My Chemical Romance’s music. I don’t necessarily have strong connection with their song lyrics. Although, My Chemical Romance meets the three essential elements I look for in rock music. Beautifully complex layering of instrumental sound, emotionally-charged vocals, and confessional lyrics. Also, not too repetitive lyrics or song beat. These are more than enough reasons for me to become very attached to a band. In addition, I really love the creative cinematic theatrics incorporated into their music videos. Not many of my “scene” bands have included theatrical elements into their music. The exception to this are AFI, Panic! at the Disco, and Fall Out Boy.

Sadly, My Chemical Romance officially announced their disbandment back in March 2013. Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys was MCR’s last full studio album before their disbandment. Following their break-up, the band released their greatest hits collection album, May Death Never Stop You. in March 2014. This greatest hits collection album included content spanning their 12 years music career and one unreleased single track titled “Fake Your Death”.

MCR recently posted an extremely cryptic video teaser promoting the date of September 23, 2016. This sent fans into a frenetic frenzy. People basically assumed the band was reuniting. Nope. Not the case at all. My Chemical Romance later revealed the significance of September 23, 2016.

In honor of its 10th anniversary, The Black Parade album will be re-issued as a deluxe edition. This version will include The Black Parade’s full-length album along with never-before content such as 11 demos and outtakes from the album’s original recording session. The actual 10th anniversary is October 23, 2016. I shall be eagerly looking forward to their The Black Parade/Living With Ghosts album.

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Unfortunately, I have the tendency to discover some bands after they’ve officially broken up. Just my luck. Now I will never have the opportunity to see My Chemical Romance live in concert. I shall vicariously live through concert videos posted on YouTube. Also, I have Spotify to get My Chemical Romance music fix. That is more than enough to make me content. Overall, My Chemical Romance has earned a new fan even if I’m very late to the party.

 

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Panic! at the Disco

PATDPete Wentz, bassist of Fall Out Boy, discovered a little, unknown Las Vegas band called Panic! at the Disco. By late 2004, Pete signed this young, upcoming band onto his Fueled By Ramen imprint label, Decaydance Records. Panic! at the Disco’s debut album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, released in September 2015. This Las Vegas band made their official debut into the “scene” music genre.

I was in middle school around this time. So the name Panic! at the Disco sounded vaguely familiar. During middle school years, my fellow peers bombarded me with a plethora of “scene” artists’ names throughout the school day. This is the only reason I was even aware of the mainstream popularity of “scene” music.

I already mentioned in the “Emo Rock” blog post how my appreciation for this particular music genre quickly morphed into immense love over the years. For some unbeknownst reason, I just couldn’t get into Panic! at the Disco’s debut and sophomore albums. Sometimes things in life take time to grow on you. Panic! at the Disco would definitely fall into that description. From 2008 to 2010, I explored “scene” genre with majority of my bias artists being under Fueled by Ramen label. Yet ironically it wasn’t until 2011 Panic! at the Disco’s music sparked my interest.

MTV’s Hits television channel was my occasional guilty pleasure around 2008 or 2009. I enjoyed checking out what music would be played during their various program segments. Often, MTV Hits was my frequent go-to TV channel during summers. Summers are when I will seek out to discover new artists or bands. Usually they’re musically similar to the artists I already listen to.

Music is one of the ways I unwind from the stresses within my personal and academic life. One month after graduating high school, there was plenty of stress resting on my shoulders. Lots of conflicting emotions too. Excitement to start a new chapter of my life. Anxiety of starting over in a new environment. Elation to take steps towards my career. Worry that I wouldn’t be able to find people similar like me in college. Eager anticipation to make new friends. Apprehension over how potentially intense college academic rigor will be compared to high school academic rigor. It wasn’t until two months before the fall semester of college I was mentally prepared for this new life journey.

Back in the summer of 2011, I was casually flipping between my preferred go-to TV channels. “Ballad of Mona Lisa” music video began playing as I swapped to MTV Hits. The first minute sparked my intrigue. Putting the TV remote down next to me, my whole attention was directed at this music video. I had never seen a Panic! at the Disco music video before this point. So I had no idea what to expect.

“Ballad of Mona Lisa” was a steampunk themed music video that conveyed a fascinating concept which brought the song’s lyrics to life. Don’t even get me started on that gloriously bad-ass steampunk top hat worn by the lead singer. Plus, the lead singer was rocking guyliner like it was no one’s business. The addictive punk pop beat instantly hooked me within 30 seconds. Within the same week, Panic! at the Disco’s “Ballad of Mona Lisa” music video played many times on MTV Hitlist and Fuse TV channels. My intrigue rapidly blossomed into appreciation as each listen made me fall further in love with this song. With absolute certainty, I knew I had to check out Panic! at the Disco’s new album, Vices & Virtues!

Panic! at the Disco’s YouTube channel enabled users to listen to the whole album for free. This worked out in my favor. Here’s my policy with albums: I won’t buy a music album until I’ve listened to it in entirety at least 10-15 times. I’ve been a loyal iTunes user for the past 8 years. Artist’s more recent albums aren’t necessarily cheap. I don’t bother buying singles. Only full albums or Extended Play (EP) albums. So the music album purchase must be worth it! I binged Vices & Virtues album in full entirely approximately 20-ish times. From start to finish, Vices & Virtues takes the listener on an incredible journey. Each song experiments with various musical styles. I needed this Panic! at the Disco album in my iTunes library! (Random note: Actually I wound up purchasing Vices & Virtues deluxe edition album on iTunes. Compared the regular edition, the deluxe edition included two bonus songs and “Ballad of Mona Lisa” music video. This additional content totally justified spending $3 more for this version of the album.)

This led me to check out Panic! at the Disco’s previous albums. A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out and Pretty Odd. Two drastically diverse musical styles. Their debut album didn’t take too long to grow on me. This emo punk pop album incorporated aspects of baroque pop. This album definitely stood out against other “scene” albums around the mid-2000s. Quite impressive for a new, upcoming band especially with their debut album.

Pretty Odd is an entirely different story. I didn’t grow up with psychedelic pop rock. So The Beatles influence sound within Pretty Odd didn’t quite jive well with me for a long time. It would take me a couple years before forming an appreciation for it. This album was an acquired taste for me.

Holy moly! The lead singer’s voice is a decadent wine you just cannot get enough of. Only one other lead singer of out of my bias alternative rock bands has such incredible vocal range and soulfully, rich tone. Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy. I could seriously listen to Panic! at the Disco’s music for several hours at a time and never get tired of it. Also, I love the complex layering of different musical styles within their songs. It ain’t the typical sound you hear in alternative rock genre.

When I wasn’t listening to their albums on my iTunes, YouTube became my best friend. I intensely browsed Panic! at the Disco band interviews to learn more about its band members. I didn’t know Jon Walker and Ryan Ross had officially left the band in 2009 due to musical creative differences. This is why I had no issues with the band’s new musical direction with Vices & Virtues album. I wasn’t even aware Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith were the remaining original band members. Band interviews tell you about individual member’s personalities and the band’s dynamic in terms of interacting with each other. Out of all my rock artists, Brendon Urie has the most extroverted, charismatic personality for a lead singer. A fabulously multi-faceted personality that never ceases to amaze me even five years later. Also, he can play at least 3-5 instruments with high level of mastery. This is a man of many talents. I fell head over heels in love with him. Truly never a dull moment with Brendon Urie.

Ever since discovering Panic! at the Disco in 2011, I dreamed of having the opportunity to see them in concert. They sound really amazing based off the live concert videos clips I found on YouTube. I’m often very skeptical if my bias rock bands will sound good live as they do on their studio albums. I’d hate to be extremely disappointed upon to discovering they sound absolutely nothing close to their recorded albums.

Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die was released in October 2013. Panic! at the Disco experimented with an entirely different musical style compared to their previous three albums. Their fourth album embraced a more synth pop vibe. I was very pleasantly surprised by Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die. This particular album embodies Brendon’s personal evolution from his youthful days growing up in Vegas to becoming the front man of a well-known rock band. The album essentially is pays homage to the band’s hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Alternative Press: Panic! at the Disco announces The Gospel tour

Panic! at the Disco extended The Gospel tour dates between July and August 2014. I will randomly look up tour dates for my bands from time to time especially after a release of a new album. Many of my bands often tour during summers. One of the The Gospel tour dates was stopping by Pier 6 Pavilion. I discovered this exactly one week before the day of this concert. This filled me with exuberant joy. Favor was on my side. There were still tickets on sale for this particular concert date.

I was already familiar with the layout of Pier 6 Pavilion’s venue. mtvU’s Sunblock Festival was the last concert I attended at Pier 6 Pavilion back in July 2009. So this helped me to figure out what available seats would give the best view and concert experience. With concert tickets, my goal it to never pay more than a total of $70 (including venue fees).

I was bubbling with excitement the day of the concert! I was extremely surprised to discover my seat was within close proximity of the stage. Only 7-10 feet from the main stage on outer edge of right lower section. I had only bought my ticket exactly 7 days before this concert…the favors were definitely in my odds. I usually purchase my concert tickets at least 2-3 month in advance due the high popularity of my artists/ bands. Despite being near the speakers, the general sound acoustic was still excellent. My seat gave me fantastic views of the main stage.

Walk the Moon and Magic Man were the opening band acts for Panic’s The Gospel Tour. They were decent but didn’t really sparked too much of my interest. These bands’ music weren’t my cup of tea. I can still appreciate opening band’s music even if it doesn’t entirely appeal to me. They were good transitions to the main act of the evening.

Panic! at the Disco delivered a high-energy 22 song set list. That is pretty intense. Nearly 90 minutes of mind-blowing, spectacular performances. Pier 6 Pavilion has a smaller main stage. Yet, Brendon’s overwhelmingly charismatic personality exploded on the stage. Despite the medium-small-ish venue, Panic! at the Disco delivered performances that made the audience feel as if they were in huge arena venue. Brendon offered several terse yet entertaining commentaries between songs due to how packed their set list was that evening. Panic! at the Disco not only sounds as good as their studio albums. It way exceeds the sound quality of their recorded albums. I already knew Brendon Urie is stunning gorgeous based off the YouTube interviews and photos floating around online. Seeing Brendon perform on main stage, I fell even more in love with him.  He has a very special place in my heart. I waited three years and finally had chance to see Panic! at the Disco in concert. Truly a dream come true! This concert experience was adequately documented in photographs and a few recorded video clips.

Panic! at the Disco’s The Gospel Tour Setlist

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In September 2015, I had another opportunity to see Panic! at the Disco at Shippensburg University. My friend was a current student at Shippensburg University at the time. Rachel is a huge fan of Panic! at the Disco’s music too. So I paid between $25-$30 the for non-student concert ticket. That’s still a super cheap ticket price. I hadn’t paid anything under $30 for concerts since July 2009. This concert was held in Shippensburg’s main auditorium. Way bigger than Pier 6 Pavilion’s open-air venue. Rachel and I were fortunate to find two spots on the crowded bleachers. This gave us a great elevated perspective of the main stage. We wouldn’t have been able to see much cramming into the general standing area. I had only one slight issue with sitting on the bleachers. Majority of people on the bleachers remained seated during Panic! at the Disco’s set. Sadly, Rachel and I were unable to stand up during P!ATD’s set without rudely blocking the people in the row behind us. Yet, I still had an absolute blast during Panic! at the Disco’s 20 song set. It was hard to believe Brendon was battling a horrible cold that evening. Hell he sounds better than I do when I’m suffering from a bad cold. P!ATD delivered kick-ass, energetic performances. At the end of that evening, my friend and I drove away from Shippensburg University with jubilant grins plastered on our faces.

Panic! at the Disco’s Shippensburg University Setlist

Death of a Bachelor was released in January 2016. “Hallelujah”, “Victorious”, “Death of a Bachelor”, and “Emperor’s New Clothes” presented listeners with very different musical tones. This was just a little taste of how spectacular the new album would be. In the new album, Brendon basically reflects on his life experiences regarding the transition from a single bachelor to a married man. All of the album’s song lyrical content expresses quite an array of emotions. Death of a Bachelor album was love at first listen. I marveled at the beautifully moving songwriting. Some songs legit gave me goosebumps. Within the first week of its release, I easily binge-listened Death of a Bachelor album in entirety 30-40 times.

Brendon Urie isn’t afraid to break the mold by evolving Panic! at the Disco’s sound with each album. Each album has very different musical styles.  It is literally a musical journey listening to their albums in chronological order from A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out to Death Of A Bachelor.

I apologize for the super long length of this blog post. Over the past five years, my love for Panic! at the Disco has exponentially grown. I don’t understand how I didn’t discover this amazing alternative rock band until summer of 2011. Well it is better late than never.

Emo Rock

MusicMainstream music has drastically evolved since I was a child in the 90’s. I have always loved music but it didn’t become a prevalent part of my life until late-elementary school. Yet it wasn’t until around 2006 or 2007 I even discovered the rock genre. In fact, “emo” genre was my official introduction to the world of rock music. This realization only recently dawned on me.

I won’t go into detail about the history of emo rock genre. You can always consult Wikipedia if you want to learn more about this genre’s history. Emo rock genre is often associated as emotionally-charged punk or hardcore rock music with confessional song lyrics. I remember emo rock becoming part of mainstream culture around mid-2000s. Essentially this music genre has been a prevalent part of my life from middle school to high school years. Emo rock genre’s mainstream popularity began to decline around early 2010s.

I don’t know what exactly prompted my interest in emo rock music. It is a tie between my social environments and TV shows. AFI and Fall Out Boy were my official introduction to emo rock genre.

First, I’ll elaborate how TV shows influenced my music tastes. My love for science-fiction superhero genre TV shows and movies was rapidly growing during this time. In 2006, I randomly discovered The CW’s Smallville as I was casually browsing the television channels. X-men trilogy and original Spider-man trilogy movies had formed an unintentional bias to Marvel universe. Yet, Smallville was my official introduction to DC universe. I will discuss my Smallville obsession in another blog post at a later date. This particular show had a fantastic selection of music incorporated into its episodes. Smallville is the reason it introduced me to many great artists and bands between 2006 and 2011. I can tell you the exact moment my interest in AFI was sparked. Smallville season 6 episode 9 which was titled “Subterranean”. In the final scene of this episode, it brilliantly depicts the villainous, bad-assery of Lex Luthor. AFI’s song “Prelude 12/21” plays in the background of this final scene. The song plays only for 1 minute long in the episode, but it made quite the lasting impression on me. This prompted me to check out AFI’s new album, Decemberunderground.

Second, I’ll elaborate how social environments influenced my music tastes. In 2005, Fall Out Boy released their sophomore album, Under A Cork Tree. This band was most popular when I was in middle school. There was excessive hype surrounding them. I’d frequently hear my fellow peers talk about them throughout the school week. Fall Out Boy was frequently featured in many teen magazines as well. All these factors shaped my outright refusal to not listen to them. I had a close acquaintance who was very much obsessed with this band. Shakira made it her mission to convert me to their music. It was uphill struggle for a while as I continued to refuse to give them a chance. One day I couldn’t deal with the constant badgering and caved to her demands by listening to some songs from Under A Cork Tree. I was pleasantly surprised by Fall Out Boy’s music. But I wouldn’t exactly call myself a fan. Their third album, Infinity on High, was released in 2007. Typically, you gained access to your favorite artists’ music was by physically owning their CD albums. Or having a friend burn a CD for you. CD albums are an outmoded concept to any Generation Z kids born after mid-2000s. Anyway, I randomly picked up Fall Out Boy’s Infinity on High album from my local library. My former reluctance to listen to their music a couple years prior had completely vanished. I fell head over heels in love with Infinity on High album. Fall Out Boy had gained a new fan.

AFI and Fall Out Boy had formed my appreciation for the emo rock. Yet I only began to listen to this music genre around 2008-2009. Emo rock was slowly losing popularity within mainstream music. I’m pretty sure this was the main reason I decided to venture into this genre. Apparently I was a borderline hipster in my early teenage years.

107 Emo Bands You Knew About Before Anyone Else

Wikipedia’s List of Emo Artists

In July 2009, I attended my first concert. mtvU’s SunBlock Festival line-up hadBoys Like Girls as the headliner with supporting acts of The Academy Is, Never Shout Never, The Veronicas, and Gym Class Heroes. My main motivation to go for SunBlock Festival was to see The Veronicas. Yet this music festival formed my appreciation for Boys Like Girls and The Academy Is. I attended another mtvU music festival in October 2009. mtvU’s Ulalume Festival line-up had Paramore as the headliner with supporting acts of AFI, Dead by Sunrise, and Kid Cudi. I was super excited to see AFI in concert. I had been avidly listening to AFI since 2006. In preparation for Ulalume Festival, I listened to Paramore’s newest album, Brand New Eyes. I was very impressed. These two music festivals strengthened my love for emo punk/ hardcore genre.

I mentioned earlier how Fall Out Boy was my official introduction to emo rock. Fueled by Ramen label enabled me to discover other similar bands within this particular genre. The Academy Is. Paramore. Cobra Starship. This occurred between 2008 and 2009. It wasn’t until 2011 that I discovered Panic! at the Disco. That’s a long story for another blog post.

I formed my love for emo rock from 2008-2010. It was surprising the wide variety of artists I’d discovered within this genre. Because of my closed-minded attitude, I joined this party late. This deeply saddens me still to this day. I missed a golden opportunity to meet others who had similar music interests to me. Throughout middle school and high school, not many of my friends were fans of rock music. My love for rock genre really intensified in high school. It wasn’t until college I found friends who shared similar rock music interests. Emo rock helped me branch out to rock sub-genres like hardcore, post-hardcore, nu-metal, and symphonic metal. What I love about these rock genres it has beautiful storytelling in their songs. It addressed the ups and down moments of life. Also, there is emotional depth in terms of lyrical content. Most of all, the beautifully complex layering of music and vocals within the songs. These are all elements seriously lacking in mainstream music over the past five years.

Emo music scene perpetuated the “emo” look. This fashion style varied from clean-cut to more punk. The most prominent aspect of emo fashion was the hairstyle. Short, choppy layered flat-ironed hairstyle with side-swept bangs covering one or both eyes. Hair color could be standard black, brown, or blonde to the opposite spectrum of various bright colors like blue, pink, purple, or red. Excessive amounts of black worn are often associated with “emo” fashion. Darker shades of eye-shadow and heavy eyeliner are part of this make-up regiment. You can’t forget the staple of this look. Tight skinny jeans and band tees. Often, there was confusion between emo and goth fashion styles.

It never ceases to amaze me the negative stigma surrounding the term “emo”. This never bothered me much when I was discovering this particular genre. As I grew older, the inaccurate stereotypes surrounding emo subculture really pissed me off. I personally love emo rock genre, but I’ve never dressed emo. I describe my fashion style as nerdy chic with hint of preppy. Although, I do prefer incorporating darker shades of colors into my outfits. I own a fair amount of band t-shirts as well. Stereotypes about someone solely based off their music tastes or fashion should be eliminated within our society.

Stereotypes promote a “us versus them” mentality. This perpetuates a closed-minded attitude toward life. I firmly believe stereotypes are divisive tools that don’t teach people to love others for their differences. We should embrace diverse personalities, music tastes, and fashion styles. Not be judgmental about a person’s differences. Variety makes the world a beautiful place. Therefore, I’ve come to passionately hate the term “emo” regardless if it refers to people or music. My deep hatred for the term “emo” is the reason I refer to emotionally charged punk rock music as part of the “scene” genre.

Quite frankly I’d rather listen to music within scene, hardcore, post-hardcore, nu-metal, symphonic metal, and alternative rock sub-genres. It is like a fine wine…it gets better with age. I’ve been listening to the many of my rock bands for nearly 6-10 years. The quality of mainstream music has drastically declined over the years. I can tolerate no more than 1% of mainstream music. This is why I all together stopped listening to Top 40 radio stations several years ago. Basically I rely on iTunes, YouTube, and Spotify to listen to music.

Oscar Wilde