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Words: Paramore / Young The Giant / Japanese Breakfast at Azura Amphitheater

Paramore at Azura Amphitheater. Photo by Aaron Rhodes.
Date: October 14, 2022

Azura Amphitheater - Bonner Springs, KS

It had been roughly four years since Paramore visited the Kansas City metro before last night's show. But considering a two-year pandemic concert drought, singer Hayley Williams releasing two solo albums in that time, the band beginning to roll out their new album this month, and the fact that the band's fan base is ravenous regardless of the conditions, this show was bound to be explosive. Jumping up from the 8,000 capacity Starlight to the 18,000 capacity Azura (sold out), everyone and their mother seemed to be in attendance (unless they were at Lizzo or Clutch; a busy Friday night).

Paramore has always embraced a level of groove in their music, despite being best known for their one-two-one-two pop-punk bangers and the occasional ballad. Fans got a taste of the bangers and ballads (a blowout "Misery Business" main set closer; "Misguided Ghosts"), but as a waning gibbous rose over the stage (kind of perfect that the band's contribution to the Twilight soundtrack was played third), the mood for the evening was dance over everything. It started with the latest single and upcoming album title track, "This Is Why," and continued on with the highly infectious "Caught In The Middle" and others. Infectious enough that I'm certain a few partners brought to their show against their will left as boot-scootin' converts.

Despite the often stressful conditions of an outdoor venue as large as Azura, the stars visible in the Bonner Springs sky and the stars on stage (Hayley Williams' stage presence and live vocals are exceptionally impressive, her band of course never letting her down) made this evening more than special.

Preceding Paramore were California indie pop vets Young The Giant. The band, alternative radio favorites throughout the last decade, like many of their peers seem to have shifted away from the more guitar-driven hooks of their 2010 debut in favor of more synth-heavy songs with big dance beats. Vocalist Sameer Gadhia took to the stage bouncing and occasionally full-body headbanging to his band's clean as can be pop tunes, and while oldies like "My Body" and "Cough Syrup" were nailed, Gadhia's vocal range was at times notably static, his over the top enthusiasm grating, and the writing on more recent material simply lacking.

Following the night's first act Claud (whom I missed; my apologies, lots of traffic out there), Japanese Breakfast took the stage. The Grammy-nominated group fronted by best-selling author Michelle Zauner had roughly half an hour on the stage but made that short amount of time as enchanting as it could be. Moving gracefully from indie ballad to disco-inspired dance number, Zauner's precise, powerful singing floated gently over the carefully crafted soundscape provided by her band (violinist, saxophonist, and all). Zauner even skipped over to bang a gong sitting near the center of the stage, in one instance adding to the blissful atmosphere of the song; in another instance, banging it with a bit more force, cranking the song up a few decibels and instantly evoking more shaking hips throughout the amphitheater.

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