6:10 pm: After a long, sun-baked day at the beach, cruisers have filled up the Norwegian Jade again, and the Bahamas is getting further and further on the horizon. Paramore’s a little late for its second (and final) pool deck performance of the cruise, and it might have to do with he drizzle of rain that’s been falling on and off for the past few minutes. But before long, a stagehand pulls the tarp off Zac Farro’s drum kit and the crowd roars.
Previous Parahoy! 2018 Recaps: Day 1 | Day 2
6:13 pm: Paramore takes the stage. Virtually all 2,700 cruisers crowd the poolside ship deck, hoping to catch one of the rare live moments Parahoy! is known for. They open with an After Laughter deep cut (and one of the album’s best tracks) -- the glistening, highly cruise-appropriate pop-rock track “Pools.”
6:34 pm: Some bands arrange their set list by the tuning of the songs, but for Paramore right now, it’s by their connection to the Twilight films. Right after playing “I Caught Myself,” Williams asks, “How about another song for the vampires?” Of course, it’s their hit “Decode.”
6:44 pm: The crowd erupts into chants of “ZAC IS BACK!” as Williams tells a sentimental story about palling around with her old friend in the Orlando rehearsal space where Paramore made 2005’s All We Know Is Falling. “We grew up in a very crazy world, but somehow our friendship survived that,” she says. Farro rejoined the band two years ago after leaving over a very public disagreement with Williams; it’s all an excellent segue into the After Laughter track, “Grudges” -- the first time they’ve ever played it live!
7:02 pm: It’s time for another rarity. Paramore launches into the dizzying instrumentals of After Laughter’s “No Friend” -- easily the most experimental track in their catalog -- and they’re joined onstage with their old friend Aaron Weiss, who frantically performs his spoken word part on the song.
7:19 pm: Someone in the crowd passes a Drake tube top up to the stage, which Williams promptly puts on, professing her fandom (as if covering “Passionfruit” yesterday didn’t get the message across). Up next is a cover of a song from a completely different time and place, but similarly a sonic cousin of Paramore’s After Laughter sound: Fleetwood Mac’s 1987 hit “Everywhere.”
7:39 pm: Paramore has played virtually every popular track from its catalog (without any repeats) over the course of their two sets, except for one glaring omission: “Hard Times,” the sublime single that kicked off the After Laughter cycle and introduced Paramore’s new tropical-tinged, Talking Heads-inspired sound. So it’s no surprise when it’s their choice to send off their set, in jubilant, dance party fashion. But the night is still young, and this isn’t Paramore’s last appearance of the cruise: “We’ll see you tomorrow at the ol’ Q&A sesh,” Williams promises.
8:30 pm: LA-based indie rockers Local Natives have been serving as the main support for Paramore on this Parahoy!, and an hour before their Saturday night set, we catch the quintet in a jovial mood backstage at the Stardust Theater. Kicking back in their dressing room over snacks and drinks, they tipped us off on the new music they’re working on. There’s no album title yet and they haven’t played any of its songs live, but they’re hoping to release the first single this summer.
What can you tell us about the new music?
Kelcey Ayer: We’re halfway through the album right now.
Nik Ewing: We’re working in downtown L.A. We’re home, working with [engineer-producer] Shawn Everett. I don’t wanna speak for all of us, but we’re having the time of our lives, a creative high we’re all excited about right now.
Matt Frazier: We started officially making the record in November. We’ve been doing it in pockets of time, as touring [behind 2016’s Sunlit Youth] died down. We’re on track to turn it around faster than we ever have before. We usually take almost four years to put out a record.
Ayer: [Everett] had a huge year last year. He engineered and mixed the last Alabama Shakes record. He did the last John Legend record. He mixed the Perfume Genius record, the Grizzly Bear record, the War on Drugs record… He got a picture [named] “The Worst Dressed at the Grammys.” He was best dressed to me, he looked so rad! [Laughs]. He wears these crazy leggings, they’re all multi-colored. He looks like he’s from the Harajuku district in Tokyo, or something. He has white dreads. He’s such a character.
How would you describe the sound of the album?
Taylor Rice: Our approach with this album was to be really in the moment and play off each other live, in being a band, playing together in a room. It’s something that we hadn’t done for a bit. On our last record, we pushed ourselves to do a bunch of things we hadn’t done as a band before. A lot of this has been, “Let’s jam in the room, be a band.” It’s kind of an obvious thing to do. But also a rare thing. We hadn’t made a record like that, really ever.
Ewing: Shawn is a crazy dude with amazing ideas. We’d track each track to a loop on tape and then we’d play the loops — this crazy Brian Eno technique.
Ryan Hahn: The cool thing with tape is a lot of accidental things happen that could never happen recording straight into Pro Tools. It’s these weird analog accidental things we’re just rolling with in the moment.
Would you call this more of a rock record?
Rice: I think it is, definitely. And just embracing the things about us as a band -- our identity in that, like Matt and Kelcey playing drums together.
Ayers: There are some free psych rock, dark L.A. vibes happening.
Do you have an idea of when fans might hear new music?
Rice: This year. We’re hoping to finish this year.
Ayers: By summer, hopefully a single.
Did you guys have a good time in the Bahamas today?
Rice: I very closely didn’t make it back to the boat, or back to the U.S. It was 5 o’clock, and we lost our passports, my partner and I. We went back to the hotel, they didn’t have them anywhere there. We were like, maybe we left them in he cab! Finally the guy tracked me down. He was like a half hour away.
9:43 pm: After our interview wraps, we kick it with Local Natives for a little while longer, leading up to their set time at 9:45. We get to watch them huddle up for a last-second group meditation pre-show ritual, just before they take the stage and open with their old favorite, “Wide Eyes.”
10:43 pm: Before performing “Fountain of Youth,” Local Natives co-frontman Ayer shouts out the youth right in front of him. “I was seeing a lot of the cruisers are from Florida… This is very much your world and you guys are gonna decide what happens,” he says, likely nodding to the recent activism by the survivors of the Parkland shooting.
10:48 pm: Local Natives end their set the way they often do, with the shout-along refrains and climactic breakdowns of their 2009 single “Sun Hands.”
1:30 am: After the final performances are in the books (DJ-producer Mija also led a dance party in the Bliss Lounge), the party rages on upstairs at the silent disco. It’s especially crowded (there’s actually a line to get in) and it’s not just because of the early 2000s pop thumping in everyone’s ears. Paramore drummer Zac Farro and bassist Joey Howard have made it to the DJ booth, where they’re making sure partygoers make the most of the end of their night. “I just learned to DJ!” Farro shouts, in even more of a goofball mood than usual. Selections range from Britney Spears’ “Toxic” to Eiffel 65’s “Blue” to Daft Punk’s “One More Time.” Just before playing “Getting’ Jiggy Wit It,” Farro shouts into the mic, “WILL SMITH IS MY FAVORITE ACTOR IN THE WORLD!”
It’s that kind of night.
Here’s the set list from Paramore’s performance:
2. Crush Crush Crush
3. Still Into You
5. I Caught Myself
7. Never Let This Go
9. When It Rains
10. Playing God
11. Idle Worship
12. No Friend (featuring Aaron Weiss)
14. Caught In the Middle
15. Everywhere (Fleetwood Mac cover)
16. Ain’t It Fun
18. Hard Times
Check back tomorrow for a recap of Parahoy!'s final day at sea! Expect more interviews and photos. We'll be out here recapping all four days of Parahoy! 2018.