Paramore Rocks Its Oldest Tracks on Parahoy! Cruise's First Day

Trish Halpin
Hayley Williams of Paramore performing on the first day of the 'Parahoy!' cruise on March 5, 2016.

The second annual Parahoy! cruise will sail from Miami to Cozumel, Mexico and back between March 5 and 9. Here is our recap of day one.

It’s pretty incredible to watch a seasoned live band like Paramore take the stage in apparent disbelief.

But Hayley Williams emerged onto the Norwegian Pearl’s pool deck stage yesterday hands on head, signaling a nonverbal, “Oh my god — this again.”

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Parahoy!’s 2014 maiden voyage was an underdog triumph, a sold-out success in a burgeoning music cruise industry that usually caters to much older fans. But the myriad alt teens and twenty-somethings rally around Williams like a scene-leading punk rock princess. With Parahoy! veterans getting the first crack at cabins, the sophomore voyage sold out months ago, validating what Paramore built from the ground up.

She knows it, too. She admitted, “The first time this was proposed to us we thought it was ridiculous and kind of laughed” — but only after completing the band’s 90-minute cruise kick-off set. Paramore hadn’t performed live in almost a year, and rain threatened throughout the dusky set, as clouds obscured the waning Miami skyline. They were shaking off the rust amongst the drizzles, but there was more on their minds than that. Original bassist Jeremy Davis left the band three months prior, and this was their first show without him.

Original Paramore Bassist Jeremy Davis Leaves Band

Williams, typically a fiery ball of try-hard positivity, was even more dire than usual. She and guitarist Taylor York broke from the full-band electric onslaught to perform the 11-year old acoustic deep cut “My Heart,” an ode to, apparently, a lot more.

“This is a song about my faith,” Williams announced. “It means a hell of of a lot to me.” Introducing the seldom-played song, she expressed hope for everyone finding meaning in the song, despite their inevitably differing beliefs. Since breaking into music as a teenager, Williams’ Christianity has evolved in a sometimes-public manner, often through her lyrics. “This heart it beats, beats for only you,” she sang, projecting 27-year-old meaning into lyrics she wrote while high school-aged. “My heart is yours.” 

The first seven songs were all off Paramore’s recently re-released 2005 debut, All We Know Is Falling. “Brighter,” “Emergency,” “Here We Go Again,” “Never Let This Go,” “Pressure,” “Whoa” and “My Heart” introduced a set that favored the old-timers and was utterly unpredictable in its catalog-spanning twists and turns. Still, they sprinkled in the singles; “Ignorance” hit hard with the band’s three-guitar attack (and Aaron Gillespie pummeling away behind the kit) and “Ain’t It Fun” closed off the set — much like the band’s last album cycle — in satisfying, familiar accord.

Leaving the stage, Williams lingered a few extra seconds, locked in embrace with York. He’s now the band’s only other permanent, rostered member, and the crowd was left to wonder what sort of inner-band demons were exercised by playing this initial post-lineup change show.

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But, as Williams would quickly tell you, there’s much more to Parahoy! than Paramore.

Once the sun already set, Chvrches set up shop on the same pool deck stage and hit the moonlight crowd with its towering synthpop laser beams. The Scottish trio played for an hour, but the set felt more like half that, with the way their hook-heavy songs (now from across two excellent full-lengths) wove into each other. They also didn’t mind playing a song titled “We Sink” or one with the lyrics “we stay afloat” (from "Keep You on My Side") on a cruise ship. But maybe that’s why “Under the Tide” was left out of the set list.

Indoors, X Ambassadors rocked a modest crowd inside the Stardust Theater. It’s a mildly awkward concert setting; the Stardust is basically a movie theater with a small standing room pit, allowing minimal space for the crowd to move with the music. The seating area was spottily filled, some fans visibly saving energy for New Found Glory’s forthcoming pool deck set, or just taking load off after the day’s activities. But X Ambassadors worked themselves into a frenzy throughout an hour-long set, projecting to the sort of crowd they would have played to on tour with Imagine Dragons. Frontman Sam Harris has a world-conquering voice, and even when he’s singing “like sex in a Range Rover,” or dancing with a saxophone held above his head, it’s something to behold. Their Mumfordy hit “Renegades” was destined to be a highlight, but it wasn’t the only one. “Gorgeous” — sounding like a hybrid of Nick Jonas’ “Jealous” and Maroon 5’s “Sugar” — was pure falsetto-laced confection and let the newcomers know the band isn’t a one-trick pony.

So, have we engaged your FOMO yet? Do you wish you were out on the Pearl with us? We wish you were, too, but we’re hoping our coverage is the next best thing. There’s much more to come over the next three days, as we check out sets from the ship’s other artists and investigate the many other attractions (bingo! prom! '90s night!) the cruise has in store. Check back tomorrow for our recap of day two.