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Riot Fest: frnkiero and the cellabration

Live Review

Venue: Humboldt Park, Chicago

Ex-My Chemical Romance guitarist steps out with his new band

It must be weird for Frank Iero to play the opening slot on a festival after being part of the world conquering behemoth that was My Chemical Romance.

But that's exactly what he's doing on this second (much drier) day of the festival, and it's a good turnout for a midday slot, too. That he seems to have already settled into his new role of frontman is no surprise, either - back when he was guitarist for MCR, his energy levels were matched only by his physical dexterity.

Today's performance doesn't incorporate such antics, but it doesn't need to be, because this is a different kind of music - more downbeat, more electronic, more contemplative and less dramatic, though no less entertaining.

While the album, Stomachaches, is essentially a solo project, live, it's a full band affair. Yet while having three other members onstage with him allows for a bit of the pressure to be taken off Iero's shoulders, it's still full of the fragility and insecurities that course through that record, but also the slightly more upbeat defiance of the music that counters it. Live, it works incredibly well, both those negative and positive elements brought to life. What's more, they push and pull at each other to an almost physical extent, making the likes of Joyriding and All I Want Is Nothing burn with even more pain and promise than they do on record, the performances both cathartic and energetic but also introspective and contemplative. It can't be easy starting again, but it's clear that Iero is doing this because he needs to. That's something that absolutely comes across today, and which should mark the start of this promising new phase of his musical career.

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