Live: Paramore Reduce Your CMJ Showcase To Ashes at Hammerstein


Hammerstein Ballroom
Wednesday, October 21

Paramore’s Hayley Williams is 20-years-old, about five feet tall, and when she walks out in front of three or four thousand people she’s serenely calm. On Tuesday, somebody gave her a gold plaque, for a record her band released four years ago, when the singer was 16. She’s so much older now: Brand New Eyes, the record Paramore released in September, is very clear on that point. “No one is as lucky as us,” is probably the key line here — for the whole record really — from “Where the Lines Overlap,” a song about going to the brink and then realizing, basically, that being in a rock band is fun.

The way these guys do it, for sure. There is no graceful way in 2009 to admit yourself to Hayley Williams fanclub: you’re late, and besides, the club has members to spare. No one needs your recitation of her diverse array of stage-moves (for the record, the Mane Toss, the Catwalk, the Rapper Point, the Rolling Fist Pump, and the Devil Horns, Neatly Placed Where Those Horns Would Actually Go, If They Were Real), or the revelation that she politely and lovingly saves and stows away each and every piece of t-shirt and stuffed-elephant concert shrapnel hurled her way. She is a frontwoman without fear, or a lot of self-consciousness, beyond the basic well-mannered acknowledgment that the crowd got her band to the enviable spot that they’re in. She thanks us/them for that at regular intervals.

So call this what it is, which is an excuse to post as much footage from the show last night as possible — even on low-quality video, she’s a better sell for the band than we can muster right now. Note, in particular, the endearing existence of an otherwise purposeless box — i.e., it’s definitely not a monitor — she’s had placed at the front of the stage, so as to get a little extra elevation when she needs it which, as short as she is, is often. It also gives her something to jump off and on, in between pinwheeling into bandmates. This bit of behavior is wildly endearing, especially on the two Brand New Eyes songs explicitly about Paramore self-love, the aforementioned “Where the Lines” and “Looking Up,” whose world-beating bridge — “I can’t believe we almost hung it up!” — Williams gives first to the fans, since after all, they can’t believe it either.