“I Found My Beating Heart Again”: What My Chemical Romance’s Reunion Means To Their Fans
There’s a point while interviewing fans at tonight’s My Chemical Romance LA reunion show that we realise there might be people here from every single state in America.
Two best friends – Mikaela and Natalie – drove for six hours from Northern California this morning. Another 22-year-old caught a plane by herself from Boston but has met so many new friends and kindred spirits in the queues outside. Caitlin came from Illinois and has formed a fast alliance with her new BFF Cody from Portland. Haley flew from Baltimore. Married couple Kay and John are from Los Angeles but went the extra mile by buying matching Black Parade jackets online the second Kay scored tickets.
Most of the fans we speak to were in their early to mid-20s and had never seen MCR play before tonight, having found them in Middle School through their parents, cousins, friends, or their own discovery. Some relate stories about finding the band when their families were going through divorce. Some were just looking for a place to hide from fear, stress and feelings of outsiderdom. They share memories about the inclusivity of the band, how they made them feel welcome when no other community was there for them. “They create a space that’s really inclusive,” said one fan who identifies as LGBTQ. “They’ve always advocated for our community, since the early 2000s, when it wasn’t as common to do so. They make their fans feel like they can be their true authentic selves.”
Visually the fans aren’t just their true authentic selves, but an homage to MCR. Many come with full made-up faces, Black Parade style. Many don different eras of MCR shirts. The room is also a celebration for those who have worked with MCR at any point in history. From the opening act Thursday to individuals such as Sarah Lewitinn (who used to go by the name Ultragrrl). Lewitinn was MCR’s first ever pre-label manager.
“If you ever heard a My Chem song on the radio and didn’t want to drop everything you were doing to sing along, you were missing a bit of innocence in your life,” she says. “Seeing them reunite reminds me of a time when it was still okay to dream bombastically and expect those dreams to come true.”
Lewitinn recalls seeing MCR play tiny halls in Dumont, New Jersey and recreational centres with her mother and cousins ahead of fun times playing laser tag with the band. She was there when they headlined Madison Square Garden. “There was never a moment when they weren’t playing to 20,000 people,” she says. “So many of my friends are here tonight. It’s like the best ever high school reunion a person could dream of, made even better because we don’t have to do it in Belleville, New Jersey!”
It’s not until after the gig, however, that pre-show anticipation and nerves make way for tears, catharsis and hefty emotional weight. A family – The Cash family – are beaming as they skip towards the exit. They’re from Devon, England: mum, dad, father and daughter. They flew in this morning, and this is their Christmas present to one another. The kids turned Mum and Dad onto MCR, and reawakened Mum’s passion for music: “I was really down in the doldrums and the kids got me into this and I found my beating heart again. I’ve never done anything like this before in my life. It’s unreal.”
They dropped everything to be here and in turn they’ve witnessed the true power of music. They’ve experienced the union of people from all walks of life. “They brought us together as a family,” says Dad. “We sit down and listen to them at dinner. Summertime comes on when we’re having a pasta, or a pot roast, or Domino’s pizza.”
The gig has also been motivating their daughter who needed to put on more weight before getting plane clearance to travel abroad. “I’ve been fighting the past few weeks to get here. It’s been amazing,” she says.
We’re not crying. You are.
Some of the fans exiting are so hoarse from singing every lick they can barely make conversation. Will, 24, from Portland fights through his lost voice. He has an important message to share: a spiritual journey shared by so many. Will has never seen MCR before but carried their songs through his darkest times.
“This band came out during a really pivotal time during a lot of people’s lives,” he says. “They got people through a lot of shit that they wouldn’t have otherwise. Coming here today is the end of all that, it’s a celebration of overcoming all of it.”
He explains what he means by that with joy and also an enormous frog in his throat. His eyes glaze over.
“If you’ve ever looked in the pits of hell and found yourself reaching out and you grab someone’s hand and they look you straight in your eyes and you ask yourself what took you so long?” He pauses. “That’s what happened tonight.”
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