Parahoy! Cruise Day 1 Recap: Paramore Shakes Off 'Hard Times,' Rocks Out At Sea
Feeling fake happy is a drag. The last time Paramore embarked on one of its now-regularParahoy! cruises, they were just hours removed from the public learning about ex-bassist Jeremy Davis’ legal battle against the band. Between 2013’s Paramore and last year’s After Laughter, the group nearly called it quits.
But Hayley Williams and Taylor York pressed on. After Laughter was a brightly-colored, Talking Heads-indebted reinvention for the one-time pop-punk hitmakers, and the acclaimed LP even saw them welcome back an old friend. Original drummer Zac Farro -- who once quit Paramore on not-so-positive terms -- is back behind the kit, and the band appears as energized as they’ve been since breaking big with 2007’s Riot!
Billboard was out at sea for exclusive coverage of Parahoy! 2014 and 2016, and we’re happy to be out for round three. As the Norwegian Jade sails from Miami to the Bahamas and back, we’ll be recapping every day, along with appearances from Paramore, Local Natives, Judah & the Lion, Halfnoise, mewithoutYou, Now, Now, Mija and 2,700 fans. The Sixthman-directed cruise sold out months back before a full lineup was even announced -- all during pre-sales -- so you know the crowd is… intense. Here’s our recap from the first say at sea.
5:00 pm: The Norwegian Jade has set sail! The sea’s a little choppy, but there are are plenty of pleasant distractions to help Parahoyers find their footing. Exclusive Parahoy! merch is a big deal, and cruisers are lining up on the top decks to snag a number for early entry into the official store. On sale there’s t-shirts from every band on board, brand new hoodies adorned with After Laughter lyrics, Parahoy! flip-flops, vinyl and plenty of colors from Hayley Williams’ own Good Dye Young hair dye line. Experienced cruisers know the popular looks and sizes will barely last a day, so the lines are long, but very much worth it.
5:30 pm: Those who aren’t in line for merch or snagging a spot up close for Paramore’s Friday night set are catching some experimental indie rock vibes from mewithoutYou -- the first performers of Parahoy! 2018. They’ve been on board for every Parahoy! so far (the only other band to make that claim besides… well… Paramore) and we’ll have an interview with them in tomorrow’s recap.
7:15 pm: We’re 45 minutes away from Paramore’s set, but the ship deck is already crowded, as cruisers have been crowding the stage since the end of the afternoon’s safety briefing. The pre-performance playlist has Paramore’s fingerprints all over it: Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” Talking Heads’ “Born Under Punches,” Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere,” Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al.” Where those After Laughter influences at?!
8:01 pm: It’s Paramore time! All seven Paramore players take the main stage to rousing applause, as they break into “Looking Up” -- an uplifting rocker to kick off their first performance.
8:10 pm: It’s Zac Farro’s first cruise as Paramore’s drummer and he’s getting an early test with the furious percussion of “Ignorance,” one of the heaviest songs in Paramore’s catalog and a hard-hitting shot in the arm for weary cruisers as the sun starts to set over the Atlantic. Hayley Williams has her mic in one hand and a megaphone in the other, making sure the incendiary lyrics reach the upper ship deck: “IGNORANCE IS YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND.”
8:21 pm: “Tonight we can sort of sing this song ironically,” Williams says, introducing the forced-smile finesse of “Fake Happy,” the first After Laughter song on the set list. Williams sings about crying on just about half the songs on the album, so it’s a mood we’ll likely be revisiting.
8:24 pm: “Pressure” kicks off a trio of tracks from Paramore’s 2005 debut All We Know Is Falling. The rapid-fire fill just before the second chorus reminds you the level of drummer you’re dealing with with Farro back in the fold.
8:45 pm: “Last Hope” was the sentimental centerpiece of Paramore’s 2013 self-titled record, and here, it provides the emotional climax of the set. Twinkling, sun-kissed guitars rally an unrelenting rock rhythm as each chorus builds momentum; by the end, Williams is belting its last words while writhing on the stage floor: “It's just a spark but it's enough to keep me going / And when it's dark out and no one's around it keeps glowing.”
8:50 pm: “Two years ago, this was a tough one to sing,” Williams admits, thinking back to the previous Parahoy! cruise. “Tonight’s not gonna be as tough.” It’s the soothing, head-on-your-shoulder tear-stopper “Hate to See Your Heart Break,” which Williams wrote for guitarist Taylor York after a particularly trying time.
9:19 pm: “We can celebrate this one knowing we don’t have to believe every single word. We can just have fun with it.” For years, Hayley Williams has distanced herself from some of the less savory lines of one of her biggest hits, and by now, a couple thousand maritime Paramore diehards know the drill: turn up to “Misery Business,” ask questions later.
9:27 pm: Night has fully fallen and the end is here for Paramore set number one. But as Paramore stans know, it’s time to “WAKE UP ROSEVILLE!” Their most recent single, the effervescent pop-rocker “Rose Colored Boy,” closes out the set, complete with a mini-cover of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” dropped into the final chorus. If cruisers didn’t know how snugly the Whitney Houston classic fits into the song, the point is reinforced right after, as it’s the first track played on the loudspeakers after Paramore leaves the stage (those with a good eye notice a jubilant Williams jumping onto Farro’s shoulders as they head off).
10:20 pm: Down in the Stardust Theater, Nashville folk-rockers Judah & the Lion are keeping the energy going and then some. Armed with banjo, mandolin and accordion to go with the traditional rock instruments, there’s an eccentric flair to their set, which isn’t afraid to delve into cover songs to get the unfamiliar fans amped. This one’s a surprise, though. From somewhere in the Atlantic to the streets of Detroit, their guitarist breaks into the infectious, pump-up intro of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” and frontman Judah Akers is off and running through Marshall’s opening bars. They open it up to the audience to find someone to freestyle over the second verse -- an offer no one takes up -- leaving the band to take matters into their own hands.
10:30 pm: There’s a sense that nothing’s off the table for this Judah & the Lion set. Akers introduces a cover of the band’s “favorite song from fifth grade,” which is none other than the Killers’ “Mr. Brightside,” a solid bet to get just about any human between the ages of 18 and 50 to sing along.
10:55 pm: It’s time for Judah & the Lion to really lean into its southern roots. Up next, it’s a cover of the country-rock standard “Wagon Wheel.”
11:12 pm: Judah & the Lion has at least one song everyone definitely knows, and they’ve smartly picked it to close off their set. The alternative radio hit “Take It All Back” fills the air and gets bodies in the Stardust Theater to their feet, as Akers ventures all the way to the back of the seated theater to jostle fans out of whatever out-at-sea weariness might’ve claimed them.
Here's the set list from Paramore's performance:
1. Looking Up
2. That’s What You Get
5. Fake Happy
7. Here We Go Again
9. Let the Flames Begin
10. Last Hope
11. Hate to See Your Heart Break
12. Brick By Boring Brick
13. (One of Those) Crazy Girls
14. Misery Business
15. Turn It Off
16. Grow Up
17. Told You So
18. Rose Colored Boy
Check back tomorrow for a recap of Parahoy!'s second day at sea! Expect interviews with numerous artists on board and even more photos. We'll be out here recapping all four days of Parahoy! 2018.