On Thursday, May 25, the area outside State Farm Arena was packed with people excitedly waiting for the venue doors to open. Somewhere inside the building, the rock band Paramore was getting ready to take the stage in a few hours. Many fans awaiting that night’s show had been looking forward to it since it was announced in November 2022. Paramore was officially formed in 2004 when Atlantic Records signed 14-year-old Hailey Williams. Initially brought on as a solo artist, Williams was adamant that she not only wanted to be part of a band but wanted their music to fall in the pop-punk genre. The label agreed, and Paramore soon became one of the most influential emo pop-punk bands of the mid-2000s.
Over the next few years, the group worked to build their fanbase with albums and tours such as the iconic “Vans Warped Tour,” but it was their 2007 album “Riot!” that truly cemented the band’s place in the industry’s big leagues. The album quickly went platinum and earned Paramore their first Grammy nomination.
The band’s success continued, though it also brought internal conflict among members, eventually leading to several departures from the group. Despite this, Paramore pressed on, winning their first Grammy for “Best Rock Song” in 2013 with “Ain’t it Fun” off their self-titled album.
However, in 2018 came the announcement that the band would be going on hiatus following the release of their fifth album, “After Laughter.” A later interview revealed that this decision came at the behest of the whole group for mental health reasons, with guitarist Taylor York saying that “nothing is worth risking our health.”
After a 5-year break, Paramore — now consisting of Williams, York and drummer Zac Farro — teased new music and, to the delight of fans of all ages, appeared on the festival lineup for When We Were Young Fest’s debut year.
Now on their first arena tour since the hiatus, the band’s fanbase is stronger than ever, and their Atlanta show was a testament to that. After energetic sets by openers Genesis Owusu and Bloc Party, Paramore took to the stage with an electrifying and confetti-filled start. The stage design was minimalistic, with a small secondary stage platform backed by a large video screen. During different songs, the screen displayed intricate line designs, pieces of song lyrics and live video footage of the band and crowd. In addition, the footage occasionally appeared edited in real-time, surrounded by bright, funky frames and covered with different filters. These elements – combined with skilled light design – added to the sense of pure joy that Paramore delivered throughout the show. Above the stage was a stack of trapezoidal rings that illuminated with different colors, moved up and down and tilted independently depending on the song.
The setlist itself was filled with songs from almost every one of Paramore’s albums – a wide variety perfect for old and new fans. It also included a song from one of Williams’ solo albums and another from Farro’s side project, “HalfNoise.”
Despite being a singer for almost 20 years now, Williams’ vocals are still beautifully clear and powerful; her prowess shows no signs of diminishing anytime soon. Between songs, she interacted with the crowd; her anecdotes met with loud cheering from the arena.
The singer maintained a contagious energy with every song she sang. To everyone in attendance, it was clear that she was not just there to do her job but also to have fun and enjoy the show with the band’s fans.
The other members worked to match the frontwoman’s energy. York and touring guitarist Brian Robert Jones would frequently interact with each other as York traveled around the stage as he played.
The group, touring members included, had the kind of chemistry that was instrumental to the success of the caliber of their live performances. Among the different interactions between Williams and the audience was a special moment during one of Paramore’s most well-known songs, “Misery Business.”
Released in 2007, the song also went through a “hiatus” of its own in 2018 due to an online debate on whether or not one of the lyrics was “problematic.”
However, in 2022, the band put the song back on their setlists. Williams announced she had time to reflect on the song and found it was “very nice to feel like there’s a reason to bring it back that’s positive.”
Thursday night, the band brought a fan onstage to sing part of the song, something they have been doing at each show of the tour.
Paramore was a pivotal part of many now-young adults’ teenage years, and their earlier music, for many, provides a familiar sense of comfort for fans.
However, the audience turnout at State Farm Arena was not just for nostalgia’s sake. It was because the band remains one of the most iconic groups in the pop-punk/alternative rock genre.
With the release of their newest album, “This is Why,” they continue to add another generation of listeners to their still-growing fanbase.