Every Paramore tour feels hard-earned. The band has never quite broken up (when they went on “hiatus” in 2018, it felt like it was more for time off), but they have gone through the ringer with members dramatically leaving, with some even returning.
Singer Hayley Williams took a moment during the band’s Beacon Theater show to point out that this year marks the 20th anniversary of when she met drummer Zac Farro and guitarist Taylor York in Franklin, Tennessee. “A lot of counseling sessions,” she remarked.
More from Rolling Stone
While it’s been two decades of sharing lives and 17 years of releasing albums together, it feels like Paramore has never been bigger. There are countless musical sons and daughters of Hayley Williams dominating all corners of pop music: Olivia Rodrigo’s hit “Good 4 U” sounded so much like Paramore she gave the artist a writing credit; Billie Eilish brought out Williams at Coachella earlier this year. Even artists who aren’t explicitly doing guitar rock, like Lil Uzi Vert and PinkPantheress, count themselves as top Paramore stans, citing them as influences on who they are today.
With each passing album, Paramore grows bigger and better. Ahead of releasing their sixth LP, This Is Why, in February, the band has been celebrating in advance with a triumphant string of theater shows and festival dates before an arena tour next year, with a setlist showing just how far they’ve come.
Paramore kicked off the Sunday evening show with their dance-y post-punk single “This Is Why,” to a room full of people with every lyric and note committed to memory already. Williams took to the stage like a fireball, with her bright orange hair, a comfort totem for many millennials, partially pinned up like Brigitte Bardot. The band’s setlist was a carefully curated mix of all their eras, giving each of their albums (and even their Twilight soundtrack contribution “Decode”) plenty of love.
Williams gave an early PSA that she had incurred some neck pain from whipping her hair too hard in an earlier show. “Touring in your thirties is not quite the same as touring in your twenties,” she joked. Of course, that didn’t stop her from violently head banging to tracks like Riot! cut “That’s What You Get.” As an added bonus during that particular track, the background visuals were that of a Nokia cell phone, the perfect tribute to the pop-punk Aughts Paramore rightfully ruled.
The second half of the show was an invitation for the crowd to “put on their dancing shoes” as they moved into a funkier selection, particularly a few After Laughter tracks as well as some non-Paramore songs. Williams never got to properly tour her excellent solo material that was released in 2020 and 2021. She gave a little taste of what those live shows would’ve been like, performing the brooding rage anthem “Simmer” bathed in red lights. After a rousing performance of “Ain’t It Fun,” Farro left the drums to take over lead vocals and performing his project HalfNoise’s song “Boogie Juice” as Williams gleefully danced behind him.
The band ended their main set with “Misery Business,” a song they meant to retire in 2018 but have been encouraged to bring back by Eilish, Rodrigo, and millions of other fans who can’t quite quit it. There were many reasons they tried to let their biggest hit go, but the biggest was that the band no longer wanted to promote the type of slut-shaming message the song has. But in bringing it back, Williams made sure to note that the song can exist as a classic while recognizing its problems. “This is a song about misogyny,” she announced before the band launched into it. She refused to sing the “Once a whore/ You’re nothing more” line but didn’t detract from the fun the audience was having. She even continued the tradition of bringing some stans up from the audience to sing the bridge for her.
The encore was a sweet tribute to the fact that Paramore found ways to be bigger than their emo roots. Some may argue that they got better in the years following the pop-punk heyday they were so integral in popularizing. The group blasted through “Still Into You,” off 2013’s Paramore, and said good-bye with “Hard Times” from 2017’s After Laughter. They’re living proof that the best is yet to come.
Best of Rolling Stone