After ten years, My Chemical Romance returns to St. Paul

By: Ann McMullen

Photo by self

After nearly a decade, My Chemical Romance returned to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on September 15th.

The band unexpectedly broke up in 2013, and their fanbase continued to grow during their years of inactivity, leading to an overwhelmingly positive response to their reunion announcement on Halloween of 2019. However, like most things announced around then, their reunion tour was postponed multiple times due to COVID-19, with the Minnesota date winding up to be almost three years after it was initially announced.

Even with all of that being said, I can confidently say that the concert was worth the wait.

Almost all 20,000 seats were full. The majority of the crowd (including myself) consisted of teenagers who were too young to even have seen MCR at their peak.

Before the main act came out, two other artists opened for them. The first of these was The Homeless Gospel Choir, a solo project of musician Derek Zanetti. With the accompaniment of a touring band, Zanetti sang a short but powerful setlist consisting of his greatest and newest songs.

Post-hardcore band Thursday was the second opener for MCR. Unlike the previous act, Thursday tended to stick to their older songs. Frontman Geoff Rickly not only had a great stage presence, but also continuously referenced MCR and how the two bands got started together back in the early 2000s, hyping the crowd up for the main act even more.

At 9:30, My Chemical Romance finally came onstage, opening with the only song released after their initial breakup: “The Foundations of Decay”. After this, the band dove into a well-balanced combination of hits and fan favorites.

My personal favorite parts of the show were all the deep cuts they played. There were three songs from their first album on the setlist, and even a few non-album tracks, but a large portion of the audience was still able to sing all of them word for word.

They catered to more casual fans as well, though. Another highlight of the show was when they played their biggest hit song, “Welcome to the Black Parade”. To my surprise, this song was played midway through the set, but was definitely one of my favorite parts. Even though it was played a bit lower than the album version, the vocals and instrumentals sounded just as great as they did fifteen years ago.

All four members looked to be genuinely enjoying themselves, too. Lead singer Gerard Way was dressed down in a floral shirt, and the other members also dressed casually despite going absolutely crazy with their instruments onstage. The audience, however, consisted of lots of dyed hair, jewelry, black clothes, and most of all, eyeliner.

I was in no way disappointed by the show MCR put on, and based on the amount of energy in the crowd, I think diehard and casual fans alike would agree with me.

A review of the ‘Vinyl’ trilogy

By: McKenzie Welch

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Many well known titles come from the dystopian genre, such as ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Divergent’. ‘Vinyl’, ‘Radio’, and ‘Siren’ by Sophia Elaine Hanson are a part of a self-published set of additions to this prevalent sector of novels. The ‘Vinyl’ series features action, adventure, romance, found family, and a critique on something that exists in the society that we live in today.

The ‘Vinyl’ trilogy takes place in a self-created world, featuring countries such as Revinia and Tovaire.

Hanson adds a creative twist to music, making it so that song is practically intertwined with the words on the pages of the novel. Essentially, the people of Revinia have earpieces, dubbed “singers”, that play music throughout all hours of the day and night. These monotonous pieces are meant to implement control over the citizens of the country.

Ronja Zipse, our main character, is a citizen who struggles greatly with her singer, mainly because she works so hard to resist the music playing in her head. The description of the world makes it seem very drab, as there is no individuality; everyone thinks the way that the conductor has decided is best.

Of course, most dystopian novels are not complete without a rebellion, and the Anthem (the name of the rebellion in the book) is a prevailing aspect throughout all three novels. The Belly, where the rebellious members of the Anthem live, is a place where people can forge friendships, find family, and make a life for themselves right underneath the people whose lives are continuously being stolen away by repetitive music notes.

I cannot connect to any type of media, whether it be shows, movies, or novels, if I am not connected to the characters. The main characters were well fleshed out in this trilogy. These characters were named Ronja, Roark, Henry, Evie, Iris, and Terra, and they all had their own traits, relationships, and backgrounds that made them who they were.

Because the characters were all so different, it was easy for me to find a character who I could see myself within, which I generally believe makes a book more interesting to read. That character for me was Iris, who was shy, sensitive, but also stronger than you would ever know just by looking at her. The characters also gave representation for the LGBTQ+ community, as there were multiple same-sex relationships between both background characters and main characters.

All in all, even if I could not directly connect to a character, I still found myself sympathetic towards them, which shows that Hanson created loveable characters that made the novel itself more enjoyable.

Overall, I ended up rating the book 3.5/5 stars. My reasoning for this is that, although I enjoyed the plot and the characters immensely, in my opinion, there were still areas that lacked. For example, there were relationships between characters that felt as though they were either underdeveloped or as though they were created out of convenience. I personally feel as though the relationships would not have been so lackluster if characters had been paired with others outside of their own circle of friends.

Also, there was the beginnings of a love triangle that never matured into anything more. If you’re going to add a trope into a book, be sure that it actually evolves into what it’s supposed to be.

Finally, the writing style was, at times, not captivating to me. Although there were some typos and mistakes, it was not bad by any means, especially when you take into consideration the fact that this book was self-published, but there were moments throughout my reading where I wasn’t able to keep my mind solely focused on the words on the page.

However, there were other times where the writing descriptions were extremely vivid and kept me enthralled in the story.

So, in the end, I believe that there are things to critique throughout the novels, but, if you like representative dystopian novels that implement new twists on things often perceived as mundane, I would recommend the ‘Vinyl’ series to you.