Monday, July 23, 2018 was an evening filled with odes to the bright side of humanity, expressions of gratitude for decade-long (and counting) fans, and a celebration of transient togetherness. Paramore and Foster the People filled the USANA Amphitheater with a nostalgia that was likely as much for themselves as it was for us, given it was their second-to-last stop on Paramore’s After Laughter Tour.
With one song left in his set, a serene Mark Foster addresses the crowd for the first time. “I feel incredibly grateful to be here,” he says, through the dusty air and unabating sunlight. “I think about how all of us haven’t ever been in the same place at the same time before. And all of us, right now, will never be in the same place at the same time again. This is the only time we’ll be together. It’s a great honor.” And with that, Foster the People launch into their runaway summer hit: the coy, flirty, and sparkly “Sit Next to Me.” Everyone is stirred from their seats, and indeed, it feels like Foster had cast a spell on us to dance and revel as one.
Unwavering from their live tradition were “Helena Beat” and “Life on the Nickel” at the top of their performance, followed by tracks from their most recent release, Sacred Hearts Club. “Loyal Like Sid & Nancy” was on fire and was worth show attendance all by itself (see: moondance, vocal distortion, and tempo changes galore). Also following (perhaps more recently-established tradition) was an out-of-the-blue cover of “Blitzkreig Bop,” because why not?
But then it was time to bring on the Paramore. Which looked like this:
The reception of Hayley Williams’ arrival onstage proved that Paramore’s fanbase is still very much reverent of their no f***s given, feminist idol. The now 29-year-old singer kicked her way to the mic and accidentally knocked her red beret to the floor. With a chuckle to her guitarist, she picks it up, perches it back on her platinum blonde locks, and goes on kicking. It is refreshing to see a singer—who is a vet at her game, at this point— not take herself so seriously, and still manage to connect in a big-sisterly way to the people who love her. “There’s enough going on out there,” she says pointing to the vague somewhere beyond the desert where we had all congregated. “But here we are, safe, together. We’re just gonna have a good night. And feel happy!”
It was hard not to be happy, watching them perform. Williams’ smile was infectious. And when she wasn’t beaming at us, whipping her hair, and doing her signature high kicks, she’d sit on the edge of the stage and sing right at a lucky fan. “That’s What You Get” and “crushcrushcrush” satiated those former emo teens who had found solace in Paramore’s debut album.
And of course, what would a Paramore show be without the song that put them on the map? “We’re gonna play a song that came out in 2007,” Williams teases. “2007 marked the very beginning of us truly growing up in front of people because they heard our song on the radio or they’ve seen a poster of us somewhere. And that was weird, ‘cause we were in high school. And many of our songs read like… the journal of a high school kid. Specifically the one we’re about to play. So, while I don’t condone any of those things that 17-year-old me was singing about, we’re gonna do it anyway.”
Enter “Misery Business.” The formerly angsty high schooler in me awoke, as did, it seemed, those of many others around me, and it was a lovely, communal catharsis. Props to them for playing the song anyway (and despite recent controversy regarding its potentially inflammatory lyrics). The cherry on top was Williams’ decision to pull two kids from the audience up on stage towards the end of the song, to sing lead vocals and play the tambourine. I’ll be damned if they didn’t look like they were experiencing one of the finest moments of their lives.
The band went on to play for quite a while longer, wrapping up at around 11 p.m. “Fake Happy” and “26” were standout performances from their new LP, and ’90s themed “Rose-Colored Boy” evoked the chirpy chants of the young girls by the stage.
More often than not, when an artist pauses in the middle of a set to chat with their audience, the substance is the same: crowd banter; re-energizing the room; a chance for the band to catch their breath before it all picks up again. This time was a little different. The headliners’ stage presence certainly did not disappoint, but the discursive “intermissions” wove a sentimental narrative throughout both acts: here were two bands that this generation has essentially grown up with, all smiles and unapologetic for their past and present selves.
To view more photos from the show, go here.