As I write this, it's September 11th, 2011. I woke up at approximately 9:02 am today, and I realized that it was at this exact same time 10 years ago today that the second plane crashed into the World Trade Center. It was the day that changed everyone, as if it were the day the earth stood still. I also realized as I lay there that I'd be publishing photos and writing this very blog about the band that was born from the September 11th attacks. If I had a time machine and my 22 year old former self from a decade ago would've known I'd be photographing the best band in the world spawned from the events that day, she would laugh and say the only camera she could operate was a Kodak FunSaver, much less know who My Chemical Romance are. Funny how the universe works and things feel as if they're coming full circle.
I've been blessed to see MCR in multiple cities over the years. More recently in the last year, I've been blessed to have photographed them now for 5 different shows. Each show, not to mention the vibe of the crowd, are always a unique experience. I had shot and watched the show in my native city of St. Louis on the this tour, and I knew that would be a hard show to beat in terms of the shared experience between band and the fans. I'll do my best not to make comparisons between these shows. However, few things make me happier and more proud than looking out as a sea of fans pump their fists into the air and dancing along with this band. That's exactly what happened not long after MCR came out. I photographed the 2 opening songs, Na Na Na & I'm Not OK, and ventured out into the crowd to shoot the Planetary (GO!) balloons filled with confetti. Although that would've made for some incredible shots from the barricade, it's always fun to put down the camera and dance to that song. I mean, let's face it, how can you not dance to that song with all its energy?!
Even though we were a day early on Mikey's 31st birthday, it was nice to see that Carrie Patton of the MCRmy in the MO/KS district made an 8 foot banner for the occasion. This banner was also supposed to include a recent illustration I made of the 2 brothers fighting draculoids. However, it just didn't work out, but it's the thought that counts, right? According to what Carrie witnessed, it seemed as though the guys kept looking at the banner throughout the show, which is always awesome to know when your message is well received.
It doesn't take anything to warm up a MCR show at all, neither for fans or the band. After a few songs it was already clear that the band were pumped to give it their all to the crowd, and likewise. While I believe there were more Blink fans there were MCR fans, the fans that were there specifically to see MCR didn't shy away and were quite passionate. The band seemed to really be having fun and later Gerard claimed it was one of his favorite shows of the tours, and "I don't bullshit. I'm having fun!"
I'm not sure if it's the general lack of creative outlets in the midwest (specifically St. Louis and Kansas City) or what, but the fans share a specific passion and enthusiasm for MCR and that love is shown during their shows. So enthusiastic, in fact, that at one point after an exceptionally intense performance of "Helena" & "Give 'Em Hell, Kid" that Gerard called the crowd "a bunch of animals" and ordered on the count of 3 for everyone in GA to back up since the barricade was about to break (and later did which could have been a lot more dangerous than it turned out as security put up thick, wooden braces). Ironically, this incident occurred before "Teenagers". Self fulfilling prophecy, perhaps? Or was it just getting a bit overzealous as usual? Please kids, remember to be safe and pick your fellow fan up if they fall. You don't need me to remind you of this!
"Only Hope" never loses its power, even after the 4th time you've heard it live. Just as "The Kids From Yesterday" never ceases to amaze me with all its messages of looking back and hope for the future, so does "Only Hope". They both generate the power to deliver these powerful messages while still keeping the crowd jumping and dancing. Every time I hear these songs live, I feel like a cheerleader for this band on the sidelines as I dance & sing along (plus it is fitting seeing as I was the former chubby outcast growing up). It's a certain enthusiasm and pride while watching the band having a great time and the fans interacting with them and feeling the energy as well. There are no words to describe that kind of happiness.
One of the highlights of the evening I must say, were when they performed "S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W". "Cub scouts and nuclear war," Gerard said randomly "Those all kill people. This song is called S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W." The crowd went nuts. This was the first time I'd heard it live in person myself, having been excited when seeing it played live at Reading a few weeks before on youtube. The wave of hands were all in sync as all the fans sang every word and the guys gave 110% of their energy during the song's height. There's a specific magic to hearing that song live when its capping the ending of the set before closing with the intimacy of "Cancer". The set was a well conducted mixture of old and newer material.
I'd like to make one last note that I feel is important. As Gerard mentioned they had the "unfortunate incident" with regards to their former drummer, he wanted to let us know that they didn't want to cancel one date even if there were only one or two of us in the audience that came to see them. I think that's rather noble and dedicated of them, and I have to say I'm highly impressed with Jarrod Alexander's performance with the band. He meshed well and if I were the casual fan, I wouldn't have even known. It's like the band never missed a beat (no pun intended). One last note: As I saw just a brief moment of the soundcheck, it sounded unrecognizable. Possibly practicing on new material in the works? One can hope!
As both fan and photographer, I have to say I'm not ready for that to be the last show I see on this tour. I can say for sure, however, that in the future I will be going to their shows for many years to come. They are the best band in the world, both to see live and to photograph, and I'll keep shooting them as long as they allow me to. They have inspired me creatively in many ways, brought us all a sense of hope and peace to our chaotic lives, and I'm excited to see what the next evolution of them will be. I love how they keep peeling layers and revealing new and different reinventions of themselves and their music. I can't wait to see what's next. Whatever the future holds for this band, I can guarantee I'll be there on the next tour in multiple cities, with a smile and camera in tow. MCR, Thank you for giving me some of the most amazing experiences of my life from this past year, and for everything else.
More photos of the show below and are all © Copyright 2011 Artist Jane Bush. The entire gallery of photos from the Kansas City can be found here: