MANHATTAN, NY—A 13-year-old Hayley Williams moved in 2002 from her hometown Meridian, Mississippi, to Franklin, Tennessee. Soon, she became a vocalist in a funk cover band called The Factory. The teenager secured a major label record deal in 2003, but she refused to become the record company’s newest teen pop singer; she insisted on fronting an alternative rock band. Paramore formed in 2004 with a 15-year-old Williams, her former bandmate Jeremy Davis on bass, a local friend Josh Farro on lead guitar and his 12-year-old brother Zac Farro on drums. Paramore went on to sell millions of records; the band’s fourth and most recent album is 2013’s Paramore. The official band lineup now consists of Williams, Davis, and guitarist Taylor York; on tour, the band is supplemented by additional musicians.
Paramore were among the many big-name acts performing unadvertised concerts in the New York/New Jersey area prior to the Super Bowl. The band followed a DirecTV-sponsored celebrity flag football game on a fabricated sand pit inside a building on Hudson River Park’s Pier 40. The show was free to the public—for those who found out about it in time.
On the large makeshift stage this afternoon, Paramore performed a full set, much like its headlining concert at Madison Square Garden about 10 weeks earlier. While Paramore strive to be a cohesive band and not a vehicle for its singer, all eyes seemed to be on the orange-haired pixie-ish Williams throughout the performance. She sang well, but the way she threw herself intensely into the band’s driving rock was the spotlight stealer, as she danced, jumped, and crunched her body to the rhythms. Williams’ youthful spirit endeared her to her fans, and bringing up a random fan from the audience to sing with her toward the end of the show seemed to seal the bond.
As for the music, it was a fine hair line between alternative rock, pop punk and emo. Though the songs were polished enough to be called corporate rock, the able musicians added fine chops that gave the songs significantly more edge than on the original radio-ready recordings. Opening with “Fast In My Car” and “That’s What You Get,” and ending with “Still Into You,” Paramore revved up all of its most popular songs and performed them dynamically. Perhaps disappointing to the band’s earliest fans, Paramore nearly buried its raw punk origins in favor of an arena-rock sound, but as witnessed today, the sacrifice has its appeal as well.
For more information on Paramore, go to paramore.net.