Hopefully, come Sun God, it won’t rain. Not because of the inevitable drunken bouts of mud wrestling that will break out, but because the streets will run black with mascara when My Chemical Romance and fans take to RIMAC Field at the end of the night. Think about the mascara, and pray — pray to the Sun God for clear skies on Friday night.
Yes, mocking the weepy raccoon eyes of My Chemical and co. may be a cheap dig, but for a band defined by their singer’s ability to look like a goth, sob and carry a coffin — all at the same time — it’s well deserved. All glam affectations aside, one must admit that the Jersey-repping rock group delivers quite the slice of imminently catchy, theatrical pop-punk — but if you’ve been tuned into rock ‘n’ roll radio in the past year or so (you know, like when your iPod breaks), you already knew that.
Led by group founder and singer Gerard Way, who looks somewhere between Billy Corgan, Jack White and Beetlejuice, My Chemical Romance found their beginnings in Belleville, N.J.
Throughout their six-year career, they have taken the conventions of emo — loud, buzz-cutting guitars, oh-so-sad lyrics, constant references to suicide and screeching choruses — and raised the stakes, making music louder, faster, sadder and more theatrical than any of their emo contemporaries. (Note: My Chemical Romance does not condone usage of the genre “emo” to refer to their music. This author prefers “mainstream-o,” anyway.) Unlike their cohorts, they stick to the rules of pop music, crafting their songs to appeal to modern rock radio listeners and the high school loners that go straight home to Total Request Live instead of football/cheerleading practice. The band’s pop savvy definitely shows, as in the impossibly catchy and hilarious — once you forget its ubiquity — single/video for “I’m Not Okay (I Promise).”
In 2002, they released their debut, You Brought Me Your Bullets, I Brought You My Love, a mediocre but melodramatic album that, despite minor chord theatrics and original song titles (like “Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough For the Two of Us” and “Vampires Will Never Hurt You”), did little to distinguish them from the small crowd of pop and not-so-pop screamo acts like Thursday, Thrice and the Used.
Two years later, their major label debut Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge arrived, complete with future singles “I’m Not Okay (I Promise),” “Helena” and “The Ghost of You,” and the rest is histo — er, now. With Three Cheers, My Chemical Romance tossed aside the epic five-plus-minute song lengths of their debut, electing for the radio-ready three-minute rockers, chock full of multilayered vocal harmonies and shout-along choruses. They combined their speedy horror-punk with a bleeding heart and bleeding wrists, as if Morrissey wrote a song to impress Glenn Danzig of the Misfits, but all under the thumb of their major label.
Still obsessed with death and failed romance, the band brought their mainstream-o sound and Way’s ghoulish appearance to the once-revered halls of MTV, where they cried at funerals, died at Normandy and were picked on by bullies in the cafeteria. Their fast ‘n’ heavy riffs easily found an audience — “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” peaked at #4 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart, Three Cheers peaked at #28 on the Billboard Top 200 and the band even won 2005’s best artist and best breakout artist awards from MTVU and Playboy, respectively.
Since the success of Three Cheers, My Chemical Romance has moved beyond touring with small-fry ex-peers like the Used and Taking Back Sunday, instead acting as support for Green Day’s American Idiot tour (so that’s where they got those outfits!) and headlining their own shows, culminating in the recent Life on the Murder Scene, a collection of live tracks and music videos. They also idolize Queen, and recorded an iTunes-only cover of “Under Pressure” with the Used. I just hope they play it Friday night.