Words and Photos by Erin Christie
At around age twelve, through my obsession with the Internet and platforms such as YouTube, I discovered that music could provide me with a temporary escape, and thus, I clung to it like remora on the back of a Great White. In music, I found new realities through which I could realize what I wanted out of life, what I wanted to experience and feel. Through Paramore’s “Playing God,” I had the bravery to throw daggers at those attempting to tear me down and control my trajectory. Via Fall Out Boy’s “I Don’t Care,” I became the headstrong, unwilling-to-give-a-damn badass I truly desired to be. And with Pierce the Veil’s “Bulls in the Bronx,” I was the bold and daring protagonist sneaking off to engage in some sort of late-night debauchery without a care in the world. With each track I came to love and cherish, it was as if the voice escaping my earbuds was coaxing me into a warm embrace, pushing me to keep moving forward for the hope of a better future.
As my love for music and my desire to expand my library grew, I kickstarted a Tumblr account as a means to gush over the artists I loved, make connections with people who had similar interests, and find new pieces of pop culture to obsess over. It was then that my eyes were opened to perhaps one of the most influential groups I came across during my formative years: My Chemical Romance.
As I cycled through their lengthy discography — from the blood-drenched sordid love affair of Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge and the emotional depth of the noir-esque, cinematic The Black Parade — I found an endless source of escapism via the poetry and musical mastery the band sent forward. I was haunted by the stunningly dark lyricism of tracks such as the bleak, but heartbreaking “Cancer” and “Mama,” and I basked in the euphoria brought by high-energy, (shockingly, for MCR) upbeat anthems such as “SING” and “Famous Last Words.” I found myself absolutely enamored with the idea of a group of musicians that made music that I could both scream along to AND shed a much-needed tear to. This duality, their versatility, but all-around infectious, grungy energy, introduced me to new words — through them, and their various side ventures throughout the years, I began my affinity for the guitar-heavy, distorted post-hardcore and punk-leaning rock I know and love today. Undoubtedly, that changed my life.
When MCR initially announced their break-up in 2013, a pit of despair immediately grew in my stomach, scrolling through my Tumblr timeline and viewing a mountain of posts made in mourning. After relating so heavily to their music and finding solace in it, I wanted so badly to finally experience the songs that had essentially held my hand as I progressed through my late adolescence in a live setting. With that announcement, it felt as though my dream was crushed, and would never be actualized. Or so I thought.
It only took upwards of a decade spent waiting, but currently twenty-three, I’m unashamed to admit that I cried a few overwhelmed-but-overjoyed tears as I experienced MCR live for the first time at Uncasville, CT’s Mohegan Sun Arena on September 1st (covering them for the publication I kickstarted myself just under two years ago, no less!).
Standing behind the barricade and in between the monitors lining the foot of the stage that evening, my body practically buzzed with the adrenaline pumping through my veins, and I experienced a sense of nervous-excitement I can only equate to the feeling you might have right before the first drop on a massive roller coaster. As the lights dimmed, the crowd roared as a release of all the built-up tension they’d been holding onto, and I could only blink in disbelief as Ray Toro came into view with the rest of the band in tow. With my earplugs in, the waves of screams emanating from the arena were somewhat muffled, but I could practically feel the sound waves bouncing off my skin. It was the truest definition of a “pinch-me” moment I had ever experienced.
As the band cycled through classics such as “Helena,” “Cemetery Drive,” “This Is How I Disappear,” “I’m Not Okay (I Promise),” and “Vampire Money” (I couldn’t help but laugh at the iconic opening of the track, played out before my eyes), I was reminded of the utterly unique feeling that experiencing meaningful songs in a live setting brings. More than that, I was left clutching my sides and tasting the salty tears flowing down my cheeks, recalling those early, formative years I spent with these songs, and the fact that they mean just as much to me now as they did then.
Over the last few months, I’ve experienced a lot of massive changes in my life that have left me feeling truly burnt out, chewed up, and completely tormented. Despite it all, on September 1st, I was able to experience truly unadulterated happiness in a crowded arena, fulfilling a dream and feeling something that I was ultimately waiting to since I stumbled across MCR’s music as a kid. Now, I can only hope that I might have the privilege to do so again in my lifetime.