DARIEN – As Hayley Williams told the story, one year ago, her band, Paramore, got a call from another band, one they toured with in the early, 12-passenger van days of both groups' existence.
The fellow band was Fall Out Boy, fresh off a reunion that ended a three-year breakup.
The Fall Out reps had what they thought was a knockout idea: put together a joint tour with Paramore.
Frontwoman Williams and her bandmates, guitarist Taylor York and bassist Jeremy Davis, liked the idea.
One year later, so do the fans, including what looked to be a near-capacity crowd that filled Darien Lake Performing Arts Center on Wednesday night for the MonumenTour.
The evening opened with a high-energy half-hour set by Denmark rockers New Politics. Shortly after, Paramore burst onstage. Save for a few stories and a couple of semi-quiet moments, their 75-minute set was an explosion of lights, confetti and – more than anything else – Williams herself.
Clad in an '80s glam green, pink and yellow crop top, black boxer trunks, green spandex and high-tops, Williams sported aerobics-class swag and slathered the stage with sound and sweat. Constantly kinetic, spinning her body and tossing in some hairography with her turquoise locks, Williams rocked her way through more than a dozen of Paramore's characteristically hard-driving hits, including “Still Into You,” Misery Business” and “Ain't It Fun.”
(The aerobics weren't limited to Williams, by the way: Bassist Davis' back roll off of guitarist York was quite the crowd pleaser.)
The band slowed it down a bit – in the Paramore sense of slow, which is much like a heavy coffee drinker only having six cups on a light morning – with “The Only Exception” and “Last Hope,” which Williams trumpeted as the perfect first Paramore song if you've never heard the band before.
That said, this wasn't a crowd of punk rock rookies. They knew the music; in fact, Williams brought onstage six women who were at Paramore's first-ever Buffalo show in 2005. Otherwise known as the days when the band played small clubs and, as Williams pointed out, were chauffeured in that 12-seated van because “we were too young for insurance.”
If Paramore teed up the intent of the evening, show closers Fall Out Boy drove it home when they took the stage. With video screens overhead reading “Save Rock and Roll,” the four-part, dressed-in-black team of frontman Patrick Stump, bass guitarist Pete Wentz, guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley pounded through an 80-minute, 80-mile-an-hour set that never hit the brakes.
The most telling moment, to me, came when Fall Out Boy played “This Ain't a Scene, It's An Arms Race” with the words “God Damn Arms Race” screaming from screens above.
Closely behind that was Stump's poignant Freddie Mercury tribute, when he took to the piano and played a slice of “We Are The Champions.”
In a brief movie-nerd moment, it made me think that Jack Black's character Dewey Finn from “School of Rock” would be proud: They were sticking it to the man.
“Isn't it great,” Wentz asked the crowd, “that we can have two bands playing guitar on the radio and in arenas like this?”
Later, he added, “Sometimes you have to crack the pavement so you can blossom. Sometimes, it gets darker before it gets better.”
The message was clear: Pop that bubblegum, people, and take a bite of rock. It's tougher, and sometimes it hurts, but it lasts.
Who: Fall Out Boy and Paramore
When: Wednesday night
Where: Darien Lake Performing Arts Center