Paramore at the Honda Center Last Night

Paramore at the Honda Center Last Night
Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
Paramore
September 19, 2010
Honda Center

The show: Honda has found quite an impressive marketing tool in psuedo-punk band Paramore. By teaming up for the Honda Civic Tour, the two have effectively lured legions of true believers into stadiums where the auto giant can assault impressionable minds with commercials for cars and scooters. 

Corporate advertising during rock concerts is by no means a new practice. But Honda took the game to a whole new level last night with an event that was equal parts concert and commercial.
In between each set, a massive television screen at center stage broadcast commercials featuring Paramore  talking about Honda as a hip eco-friendly company. Meanwhile,  a crawl below the images ticked off text messages sent in by kids in the audience -- an ingenious method to make sure their eyes were glued to the screen as they looked for their silly missives. "Scream if you love Paramore, Scream if you love Hayley, Scream if you love Glee." The constant eruptions from the seats indicated the audience was captive.

Paramore at the Honda Center Last Night
Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
Pamphlets handed out in the lobby also promised college students that owning a Honda was easy. All that they would need to do is open a line of credit. The booklets even featured brief tutorials on the meaning of credit: "The ability to buy today and pay tomorrow." Yes folks, predatory lending is alive and well in America. But stick around kids, if there's time, Honda will make it all worth the price of admission by putting on a kick-ass rock show. 

As far as concerts go, Paramore's was well produced. An elaborate light show flashed and blinked while images of the band members were beamed across that massive screen. Singer Hayley Williams sang and whipped her orange hair about with vigor, and her brassy voice combined with her diminutive stature is sort of a marvel of nature. She is a compelling performer. 

But after starting off the set with "Ignorance" off 2009's Brand New Eyes, the band paused toward the end of the tune to allow Williams the opportunity to welcome everybody to the last stop on the "Honda Civic Tour." It was the second mid-song plug I witnessed during the evening (show opener New Found Glory did the same thing.)  The audience faithfully sang the words "ignorance is your new best friend,"  lending  an ironically sinister quality to the start of the set. 

Paramore at the Honda Center Last Night
Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly

Still, the band played a tight set with each member rocking back and forth on their heels.  William's stage craft was a quirky, rhythmic blend of hardcore-style dancing, met with '90s-era Axl Rose mania. But the veneer of the band's performance only served to remind those paying attention that Paramore is a commodity first and foremost -- a coterie of musical super soldiers rocking out at the behest of a multi-national corporation. The whole event was uninspiring and nauseating. 

Worst of all, it was opened by New Found Glory. This band has been playing for more than a decade and has been certified gold three times. While they play competently, their sound is a ripped off and watered down version of  bands such as NOFX and Blink 182, minus either of the other two bands' lyrical wit and biting humor. 

Toward the end of their set, NFG played the tune "Don't Let Her Pull You Down," off 2009's Not Without a Fight. Attempting to stimulate audience participation, the band had three stage hands bearing cardboard signs with the chorus written on them. But by the end of the song, the signs were swapped for new ones begging the audience to buy band T-shirts. 

We all have to make money somehow, but seriously guys, isn't Honda paying you enough so you don't have to use your songs as de facto commercials? It sort of made a person yearn for 2002 when NFG played the Inland Invasion along with such acts as TSOL and the Sex Pistols and were summarily booed.

The Crowd: Young girls and guys. Largely high school and college-aged, though there were a few really young kids there with parents. 

Personal bias: I'm a sucker for the song "Brick by Boring Brick," but after Paramore did a totally bland and perplexing acoustic version of Loretta Lynn's "You Aint Woman Enough," I couldn't stomach anymore and left.

Overheard: "Hayley, will you marry me?"

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