Like many kids who grew up during the explosion of the emo genre, for years my favorite band was My Chemical Romance, a fact that I don’t reveal often and think is pretty embarrassing to admit. Something about that bleach-blonde, Billy Idol inspired hair coupled with kohl-lined eyes spoke to us, I guess.
In the almost three years since MCR’s breakup, the members have gone their separate ways and jumpstarted solo careers or joined other bands in order to keep their musical spirits alive. One of these people is Frank Iero, former rhythm guitarist of MCR who has a long list of other music projects under his belt: hardcore band Leathermøuth, electronic outfit DeathSpells, and now, frnkiero andthe cellabration. FIATC began as a solo project that was kind of an accident: Frank spent extended amounts of time in his basement studio after the breakup, experimenting with riffs and lyrics, writing a few songs at first that later multiplied and had the potential to form a full-length record. He took all of the demos that he had absentmindedly created, produced them and compiled them into the album Stomachaches, which was released in August of 2014, to an already established fanbase of MCR junkies who craved anything listenable from the guy who once played guitar in their favorite band.
FIATC began touring in the fall of 2014, playing festivals (including Riot Fest here in Chicago) and small rock venues around the world, selling out almost every date, and in the summer of this year toured as an opener for punk band Against Me!. Their most recent tour, billed as the last tour supporting the album Stomachaches, began in November and stopped here in Chicago at the Metro on the 29th. A true punk rock show full of angst and passion, read a review of it below:
I had seen FIATC two times prior to this show, both in cramped, concrete-floored venues that smelled weird and barely held the audience, all the while fostering the fervent vibe that the band/crowd dynamic created. Don’t get me wrong, the Metro is a tiny concert hall too, but with elaborately carved furnishings and a spacious balcony, it helped this show to feel a little more special (Frank also mentioned multiple times how much he loves the Metro, both for playing and seeing shows).
There were two openers, Jared Hart and Roger Harvey, the latter of which caught my attention. Harvey’s sound reminded me a little of The Front Bottoms, with lyrics similar to Morrisey’s (he also played “Leave Me Alone” by Neutral Milk Hotel, so I immediately took a liking to him). After Harvey’s set, FIATC took the stage, opening with the raucous “Tragician” that led into “Neverenders” without skipping a beat. The next three songs were fast paced as well, beginning with the album single “Weighted,” followed by “This Song Is A Curse,” a tune written for the soundtrack of the Tim Burton film Frankenweenie, and rounded out with “Blood Infections.”
The middle of the set then slowed down, as the band covered “I Wanna Be Adored” by The Stone Roses, a performance that left the younger members of the crowd puzzled but the older ones nostalgic for the ethereal rock sound of the late 80s. The next track followed suit – “Stage 4: Fear of Trying” is a melancholic ballad off of Stomachaches that I completely adore, but had never heard live before this night. The opening chords echoed in the small venue, and the crowd sang along to every emotive word. A short snippet of this performance can be viewed below:
The shredding “Smoke Rings” followed (which sounds a lot like early My Chem music, in my opinion), leading into a cover of “You Are My Sunshine” by Jimmie Davis, tweaking the country classic to fit a punk sound, which the crowd went absolutely crazy for. “Stitches” came next, and then, my favorite song off of the record and possibly one of my favorites of all time, “She’s the Prettiest Girl at the Party, and She Can Prove it with a Solid Right Hook.” As the lengthy title suggests, this is a love song that packs a punch, written about falling in love with the headstrong girl and being willing to do anything for her love in return.
The set began to come to a close with “Best Friends Forever (But Not Now)” a song Frank co-wrote with his young twin daughters. “Guiltripping” and “Where Do We Belong? Anywhere But Here” followed, and then the band played a new song – “Give Me Liberty, But Give Me Depth” – recorded this past summer and released on one side of a special edition split EP 7″ in conjunction with English band Lonely The Brave. The band ended with the lead single off of Stomachaches, “Joyriding,” a noticeably clean performance in comparison to the video for the song, which features quite a large amount of blood.
One of the many enjoyable aspects of this show was that Frank was very talkative: praising the Metro, likening Chicago to his native New Jersey, and giving the occasional inspirational speech about the importance of chasing your dreams, an important thing to educate his young audience about. Also, as I have noticed at every FIATC show I’ve been to, he is one of the most humble performers I have ever had the pleasure of seeing; he constantly thanks the audience for it’s support, and gazes out at the crowd with looks of sincere gratitude, saying thank you after every bout of applause. In all, this show was amazing like the others before it, and the ones in the future that I will no doubt attend, heart and angst in tow.