I bought Paramore’s debut album at the recommendation of Aaron Marsh. A quote from the Copeland vocalist was featured on the front of All We Know is Falling, championing the band as the next big thing. That’s all the endorsement I needed, and it turned out to be one of the best purchases I ever made.
The careers of the two aforementioned bands are intertwined much further than just that sticker, though. Paramore played their first show as openers for Copeland in 2004, during a tour stop near Nashville. Paramore singer Hayley Williams has long sung Copeland’s praises, even after her band vaulted theirs in popularity.
It’s fitting that Paramore would invite Copeland on the road as the openers for “Writing the Future”, a collection of intimate dates in which the band says goodbye to their self-titled album cycle and moves on to whatever lies ahead. Seeing these two bands grace the stage together in 2015 serves as a reminder of the powerful bonds this scene has created and fostered.
It was just over a year ago that Copeland announced their unlikely return. After a four year absence, the Lakeland, Florida, indie rock act returned with a new album, Ixora. That release captured everything beautiful about the band’s past, while still forging ahead sonically. For a band that never received the widespread acclaim that it likely deserved, this resurgence feels wonderfully appropriate.
Things have truly come full circle as they set the table for Paramore during “Writing the Future.” Copeland takes the stage in Louisville, Kentucky, opening with three tracks from Ixora before turning back the clock. Marsh mentions from the stage that these shows are about celebrating the past before playing “Coffee”, a fan favorite from Beneath Medicine Tree. The band also takes the time to perform other classics like “When Paula Sparks”, “Brightest” and “Sleep”.
What’s impressive is how solid the band sounds – Marsh’s vocals are better than ever as he effortlessly pulls out his falsetto during “The Grey Man”. Copeland has long been respected for their ability to blend emo and pop sounds into a pleasant presentation that never sounds over the top. Marsh spends much of his night at the keyboard, but still takes the time to sling a guitar over his shoulder for an extra punch on tracks like “You Have My Attention”.
It’s likely that many of Paramore’s newer fans have no memory of Copeland’s heyday and are just now hearing the band for the first time. Just as Marsh once vouched for the young band of high schoolers from Franklin, Tennessee, Paramore is now able to give back to a band that gave them a shot over a decade ago.
Ever since their earliest days, Paramore has been known for their wild and lively performances, thanks in part to the energy of Williams. Somehow, the passing of time has only served the raise the bar for the band’s live shows, as this current incarnation of Paramore is as tight as ever.
Not only is Williams just as bouncy and energetic on stage as she has ever been, her vocal performances are through the roof. When she takes liberties with the melody, it’s not out of necessity, but instead out of welcome spontaneity and energy. Guitarist Taylor York and bassist Jeremy Davis sound as professional as ever, coupling with a few backing musicians to create a full sound that more than does justice to the band’s recording.
The addition of Aaron Gillespie behind the drum kit now feels as natural as ever. The former Underoath drummer powerfully drives the songs ahead, adding fills at just the right moments to keep things lively. Songs like the epic rocker “Part II” sound even more compelling than the actual recordings thanks to Gillespie’s drive behind the skins.
If “Writing the Future” is a goodbye to the Paramore album cycle, it’s also a chance for the band to play some fan favorites that have never been performed live before. Their performance of my personal favorite song, “Miracle” from Riot!, incites an explosive reaction from the crowd. Likewise, forgotten Twilight stowaway “I Caught Myself” and an acoustic performance of “Misguided Ghosts” give fans the chance to hear a few forgotten favorites.
Whether Paramore is thrashing through a rendition of “Never Let this Go” from their debut or slowing down for recent single “Hate to See Your Heart Break”, every performance feels authentic. Paramore has evolved from emo pop darlings into a pop rock powerhouse without ever losing sight of who they are or tossing their fan base to the wayside.
Even though “Ain’t It Fun” served as last year’s song of the summer, the crowd still explodes for “Misery Business”, Paramore’s breakthrough single from 2007. This isn’t a fly-by-night audience – it’s a group of longtime fans who love the band’s old standards just as much as their newfound radio hits. You get the feeling they’re on board for wherever Paramore’s journey takes them.
“Writing the Future” is just as much about saying goodbye to the past as it is embracing what comes next. Paramore is set to begin writing their fifth full-length album sometime later this year with a possible 2016 release. Somehow, they’ve weathered the storm of passing trends that swept many of their early peers away. They’ve remained relevant by pushing boundaries and refusing to apologize for who they are, regardless of the bumps in the road.
Regardless of what comes next, it seems almost pre-destined that Paramore will deliver. Hard work, coupled with an immense amount of songwriting talent has taken the band a long way, but it still feels like there’s plenty of room left to grow. After all, they’re still young and still full of fight. At this point, it’s harder and harder to imagine a world without them.
by Kiel Hauck
Kiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.