A few weeks ago I was decked up in primary colours, a Party Poison mask, and a Fun Ghoul bandana, as me and my Killjoys got ready to make some noise. In other words my favourite emo band My Chemical Romance were in the UK and me and my gang were gonna party our faces off unashamedly at every gig we could. The UK leg of the World Contamination Tour was some of the most fun I’ve ever had culminating in my most favourite ever MCR gig of all time in Manchester .
A few days later I got a series of frantic texts from Seleena letting me know about a video shoot for the next MCR single Planetary (Go!). It was being shot as a fake gig in London with a super small amount of tickets available to MCR fans from 9am that morning. It was 9.05 am when I got the text from Seleena and by then the tickets were all gone. I was beyond gutted.
The story of how MCR formed has been told so many times. A few days earlier the formation of the band had been retold during the Radio 1 documentary ‘ The Story of My Chemical Romance’ in which guitarist Ray Toro described receiving a phonecall from Gerard who said ‘I’m special, I think you’re special, lets show the world how special we are.’ Me and my killjoys agreed that this would be the nicest phonecall you could ever get from a friend (or Gerard Way ), and we squeed over the earnest dorky nature of the band, wishing it for ourselves. (All this is relevant I swear).
So the next day when I was in the grumpiest mood known to mankind knowing that I had missed out on obtaining tickets for the MCR video shoot, can you imagine what it was like to receive a phonecall from one of my best friends who as soon as I answered the phone simply said to me “I’m special, I think you’re special, lets show the world how special we are…. I got us on the guestlist for the MCR video shoot!’ I had a bit of a cry not just because I was going to the video shoot after all, but because I have awesome and earnest and dorky friends who will say things like that to me and will make geeky MCR references. Thanks Nick!
I feel like at this point I just perhaps write something justifying why I love My Chemical Romance and why I cared so much about attending the video shoot. But I don’t really care about trying to impress you or validating a band I love to pieces. So lets just accept that I’m a massive dork and move on.
Party poison mask? Check. Fun Ghoul bandana? Check. Primary colours overload? Check. Are you ready Nick? Fucking Ready! Well I think I’m alright… 1,2,3,4!
So the very next day we found ourselves queuing outside the Islington academy with a couple of hundred other killjoys , except they had been lucky enough to buy tickets for the video shoot. Tickets had been £4 for the evening and although we weren’t sure of what the event would actually include, we guessed that there would be a small performance if they had sold tickets. And to go from seeing MCR play a sold out Wembley Stadium to just a few hundred people a few days later felt so exciting.
Well I’m sure everyone else was excited, but I sure as hell wasn’t. Because I had the massive fear that somehow there would be a problem and our names wouldn’t be on the guest list as arranged. We hadn’t got tickets like everyone else, we were just hoping that we had been put on the guestlist via one of Nick’s contacts, and I was utterly convinced it was all gonna go wrong. I’m a glass half empty kind of girl. So while all the other killjoys got excited in the queue, clutching their genuine prepaid tickets, I was mostly silent, miserable, and anxious. At this point I would like to apologise to Nick for ruining his fun and making that evening queuing up the longest evening of his life as I sulked and grumped all night until the doors opened. Soz.
My doom and gloom wasn’t all for nothing though as we got to the front and found out that my worst nightmare had actually come true – we weren’t on the guestlist!! The girl at the door searched and searched for our names but they weren’t there. We looked over her shoulder and Nick pointed out ‘oh look there’s Nickie’s name!’ Nickie is our killjoy friend in Manchester who had managed to get guestlist for herself and Seleena, but couldn’t make it because the shoot is in London and they are based in Manchester , argh! I jabbed Nick in the ribs and shushed him before lying very loudly and very badly saying ‘ oh that’s ok Nick, you can use my plus-one, MY name is Nickie.’ When the girl asked me to prove I was Nickie by asking for ID as she clearly knew I was lying, I did what any other killjoy in my situation would do – I burst into tears. Yup that’s right. And what? It’d been a long emotional rollercoaster of a day and now I was being told I couldn’t get into the video shoot. After a couple of minutes of awkward sobbing the door girl gave me a couple of passes and told me to get in quickly, clearly embarrassed for me and wondering why someone who is old enough to know better was getting upset about a stupid MCR video shoot. It’s a good thing I don’t really have any self pride otherwise her look of disgust and contempt for my life might have hurt.
AND WE WERE IN!
The stage was set up for a proper gig and the room was half full. That’s when I realised that not only were we going to get a mini MCR show, but also that they hadn’t sold full capacity of tickets for a venue that is usually 800 capacity in order to fit in all the lights and cameras and other technical equipment. So a video shoot and a secret show for just a couple of hundred people? HELL YES!
And the best part was – no support bands, no waiting. Just MCR, no muss no fuss. About half an hour later once everyone was in the lights went out and Dr Death Defying’s voice boomed over the PA “Look alive sunshine…” Every single killjoy in the room recited the opening monologue along with the backing track, it felt creepy in a cultish kind of way, but also AWESOME, in an AWESOME kind of way. Unlike the arena shows, there was no curtain that dropped during the opening to Na Na Na, instead we saw Frank standing on his monitors shouting ‘…louder than God’s revolver and twice as shiny…’ along with the rest of us. Then Gerard hit the stage last and the party began!
We were treated to a mini MCR set as Na Na Na went straight into Vampire Money. Oh my god! I partied so hard in those two opening songs alone that I wondered how I was going to last until it was actually time to shoot the video. Gerard then thanked us all for coming and explained that we were being treated to a mini set and afterwards they would film Planetary (Go!) like a fake live gig (like previous videos for Teenagers and Desolation Row). Someone threw a wolf hat on stage which Frank promptly put on and Gerard asked us if we wanted to hear House of Wolves or Our Lady of Sorrows next. Of course we all screamed louder for OLOS because it’s a classic, but part of me kind of wanted to hear as many songs on this tour and I hadn’t heard House of Wolves yet. And also Frank was wearing the wolf hat so it kinda made sense. But still, I don’t think I have ever danced quite so hard to OLOS ever. Then a few more hits followed – Teenagers, I’m not ok, Helena , Bulletproof Heart, then Planetary (Go!). The intro to Planetary was a massive monologue from Gerard telling us how this song really describes the Killjoys ethos and is who they are as a band right now ( I totally heard this as a massive Bob Bryar diss by the way), saying that sometimes when people try and clean you up you have to be really dirty, and that if you don’t get this song then you don’t get MCR. Poor Bob. Planetary felt like a massive party. I felt like my legs were having spasms and I was going to keel over any second, and this wasn’t even the filmed version. They then told us to hang tight as they would be back in a minute.
A few minutes later the director for the video got on stage and explained what was gonna happen next. They were going to play the single over the PA a few times and film the audience dancing. They were also handing out props to the crowd to add to the killjoys feel of the video. Most of us were already in costumes – some kids had put in the most beautiful amount of effort into their costumes, there were homemade killjoys outfits a-go-go: stars and stripes, masks, bandanas, ray guns, goggles, helmets, face paints and all kinds of things that you are likely to find in a fictional post apocalyptic world set in California 2019 as imagined by MCR. In addition to our own stylish efforts the production team handed out extra masks, bandanas, and ray guns, as well as megaphones, motorcycle helmets, and giant animal heads. I was stood next to the guy in the giant penguin head (turns out you can’t see this in the finished video unless you watch it frame by frame). The room was hot as hell by this point, I don’t know how the kids with giant animal heads managed to dance.
The director then tried to psych us up by asking us all to go mental. The crowd responded by chanting ‘Lets go fucking mental! Lets go fucking mental! ‘ over and over and over again until the chant eventually became ‘More free stuff! More free stuff!’ as we cheekily wanted more props that we could steal. The party lights went on and the song boomed through the loud speakers. We danced like crazy, everyone pumped their fists in the air and sang along (although it seems that nobody knows the lyrics for the second verse because I was shouting those lines out by myself and feeling like an absolute dick). Confetti and balloons were dropped on us from the balcony and I suddenly realised we were being filmed in so many different ways. The director had a giant camera on stage with strobe lights attached, on the balcony above us small cameras hung down on ropes to get ariel shots of us, there was a super 8 camera on the front row, hand held camcorders on the stage and balcony, and panoramic shots taken from the stage. They played it through the PA 3 times I think. By this point I thought I was gonna die, I’d now heard Planetary 4 times, once as part of the gig, and 3 times through the PA and I wanted a sit down and a cup of tea. But now we had to do it a few more billion times this time with the band on stage.
They dressed the stage and set up the lights for the band to come out and play. As we were waiting around for quite a bit someone started a mass sing-a-long to Teenagers, then a sing-a-long of I’m Not Ok started up. There’s something heart-warmingly awesome about hearing 300 people attempting to sing along to the guitar solo in I’m Not Ok. It finished just as MCR came back on stage. Gerard told us they had been listening to us sing in the corridor and made a heart shape with his hands looking very proud of himself as he admitted he had only learned how to do that the other day when they played Manchester. Gerard then explained that they always played along live during their shoots to make them feel less embarrassed about miming but that it might sound weird as we would still hear the backing track underneath. This time there were more cameras were on stage to include coverage of the band and they started up Planetary again. The siren at the beginning of the song now initiated some kind of pavlovian response, in that no matter how knackered I felt I had to immediately put my hands in the air as soon as the siren came on. We danced, we sang, and more balloons and confetti was released.
In between each take the stage had to be reset so there was lots of waiting around. To keep momentum going someone in the crowd started a chant for guitar king, Ray Toro ‘TORO! TORO! TORO! TORO!’ Eventually the band started jamming along with our chants and turned it into an impromptu song about Ray, who shook his fro and rocked out to the sound of his own name being yelled by the crowd. So we decided to keep it going as the crowd yelled out each band members name while the band jammed along. The sound of ‘FRANK! FRANK! FRANK!’ encouraged Frank to spit water across the front row to show his appreciation. During the Gerard chant/jam, Gerard flexed his muscles and kissed his guns, as well as pulling some expert disco dancing moves. He could be John Disco in bis. No really, he could. In fact this whole video is feeling pretty teen-c right now. I don’t know about California 2019, I’m thinking more Glasgow 1996.
Planetary was played a total of 4 times with the band on stage, meaning we had danced to that song 9 times in a row now. We were all dying and so tired. Hair dye and face paints had melted across people’s faces, we were all a sticky happy mess. It might not sound like much, dancing to a song 9 times in a row sounds pretty easy, that’s just like a normal gig right? But with the lights set up for filming, it was hotter than a usual gig and with no slow songs in between to balance out the energy it means we were exhausted so quickly. Also they needed audience members to be full of energy throughout the whole song, which means no slacking off towards the end, and that’s a hard thing to do. But also the most fun thing ever.
And then to top it all off and to say thanks, MCR pulled out one last song out for us and played Vampires Will Never Hurt You! I was completely exhausted and broken by this point but Vampires is one of my all time favourites and I headbanged so hard that my brain felt like it was rattling for days afterwards. I’m not gonna lie, I think it might have been my favourite live version of Vampires ever. EVER!
So here’s the finished video. It will have taken you longer to read this ramble than it will for you to watch the entire video. And for all my rambling you can’t even see me or Nick in it (unless you are geeky enough to watch the entire thing frame by frame which I may or may not have done) But it doesn’t matter. Every time I see that video now I’ll just remember being there, it’s a pretty awesome memento of the evening, if only there was raw footage of me outside in the queue looking grumpy as fuck, or me in the lobby crying until they let me in. Now that would be a proper document of the night, but thank god those deleted scenes are not in the edit. I love being a proper geek for this band, I love that I can get so ridiculously over excited about some small secret show and a video shoot. Killjoys for life!
(this is my friend Holly's inside report of the video shoot, and if you freeze the video at 0.49 seconds you can see her. I was very sad we couldn't make it for the shoot, but just glad my friedns got to go.....maybe next time)
EDIT both Nick and holly can be seen in the 0.49 second frame!!