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May 9, 2011

REVIEW: My Chemical Romance Plays Hometown Show at Starland Ballroom

Saturday night My Chemical Romance played the first of two nights at Sayreville, NJ's Starland Ballroom. Aside from a special WRXP Yule Rock show at Roseland Ballroom this past December (review here), the last time My Chemical Romance played the area was when they headlined Madison Square Garden in 2008. To play the intimate Ballroom was a very special thing, and diehard fans of the band certainly knew it.
It was rumored that besides the local Tri-State area fans who came out, there were a handful who had supposedly traveled internationally just to see these homecoming shows (MCR is from northern NJ where the venue is located). A number of fans were so excited that they arrived the night before the concert to guarantee they got a spot in the front row even though the venue posted that their parking lot would not be open until 2pm the day of the actual show. At door time, the line to get in circled all the way around the Starland Ballroom parking lot, which is an unusual sight even for Starland, who regularly books mainstream acts that draw big crowds.
After their long wait and entertainment from three openers— the Long Island eight-piece This Good Robot, Kansas City's The Architects, and the epically screamo Thursday (also local, hailing from New Brunswick, NJ)—the crowd was beyond ready for their hometown heroes My Chemical Romance. From the opening song, "Na Na Na..." to the finale, "Bulletproof Heart", Starland Ballroom's sold out crowd gave their all, releasing the pent up energy that had built up all day as they screamed every lyric along with vocalist Gerard Way. And when Way sang "Now let me see your jazz hands" in "Na Na Na...", you better believe every person in that room did so. It looked like a Bob Fosse flash mob.
The setlist was a good mix of songs from the last three CDs, 2010's "Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys", 2006's "The Black Parade", and the CD that catapulted them to stardom, 2004's "Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge." The group never had a lull in the set, playing radio hits like "Helena", "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" and "Welcome to the Black Parade", as well as some fan favorites like "Mama", "Give 'Em Hell Kid" and "Vampires Will Never Hurt You" off their 2002 debut CD "I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love".
Judging from the enthusiasm and the passion of Saturday night's crowd, the level of loyalty and excitement amongst their fans does not seem to be waning. It is clearly growing with each album. It was a treat for longtime fans who have followed them from the days of local club gigs to their headline shows at MSG and Nassau Coliseum to see them in a small room again. There is no doubt that this past weekend will surely go down in history for the fans, the band and the venue.

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