Transcending Barriers with Frank Iero

Written by Polina Bakgof

Graphic by Emily Lantzy

          Since My Chemical Romance broke up, Frank Iero has been busy with his countless solo projects. Having already released two full-lengths, Iero wasn’t quite sure what direction to take with his new project. Truly speaking, he didn’t even know if he’d be able to record another album after surviving a car accident with his bandmates in 2016. Fortunately, Iero released his third album Barriers under the name of Frank Iero and the Future Violents in May, and his music and performances have never been so transparent and personal. I was lucky enough to attend one of the two headline shows in Russia, which was hands down one of the most amazing nights of my life.

          Three in the morning. Sixteen hours to go. I am anxiously awaiting the show with my friends near Finnish Gulf. White nights are still there; the sun never left the sky, and “New Day’s Coming” is playing in my head. Some say that being early in the line is absolutely nuts, and I might have to agree with them. It is indeed crazy. Getting close with people you have never met before, trying to organize the line while being nervous yourself, sharing food and laughing out loud with strangers — isn’t it the craziest experience you can possibly have? Isn’t it amazing how we all come together only because we have one single thing in common — our love for music?

          After the doors had opened, it felt like all the nervousness abandoned everyone inside the venue. The concert started with powerful “Moto Pop” and “Veins! Veins!! Veins!!!.” Frank Iero had yet again changed the band, only invariably leaving his brother-in-law and a talented guitarist Evan Nestor by his side. This time, he brought along Tucker Rule (previously known as a drummer for Thursday), Kayleigh Goldsworthy on the keyboard, and Matt Armstrong on the bass. The sound has definitely shifted since his last project, Frank Iero and the Patience — they’ve added new instruments such as violin and keyboard, which adds up to the amazing atmosphere of their live shows.

          Iero always interacted with the crowd in-between songs, making inside jokes, dragging fans for throwing weird things at him, and talking about his dreams and music. It was an intimate, small concert, and him talking to us created a very cozy, home-like environment. There were no choreographers, no stage set-ups, and no visual effects, but the vigorous reckless energy the band brought to a room full of kids made up for it all. With a performance like this, everyone gets charged with movement but ends up leaving in tears — it sure was an emotional rollercoaster for many.

          The crowd went crazy when the first chords of “Young and Doomed” played, which is a debut single that was released this April. The title speaks for itself; it’s a song that everyone can relate to, to some extent, and that’s why the audience loves it. It’s about how we all drown in our fears and pretend everything is fine. Hearing this live, it was a moment of youthful desperation captured in a 4-minute song with explosive instrumentation, conveying hopelessness and doubtfulness. It’s also impossible to not mention the playful line Iero added to the song, ‘And I promise that I’m not okay,’ as all the fans lost it there. It’s an obvious but very smart reference to “I’m Not Okay” by My Chemical Romance.

          Songs like “Fever Dream” and “Medicine Square Garden” took us somewhere else. They are done in Frank Iero’s fashion — aggressive punk melody, simple yet hard-hitting lyrics, and a voice full of passion. These tracks definitely stand out live, and both blew our minds and fulfilled our expectations of what Iero’s new album should sound like on stage. Bringing keyboard — an instrument Iero’s project were definitely lacking — in-between verses, the band managed to create exciting live songs with quite mysterious atmosphere.

          Last but not least, hearing “New Day’s Coming” and “24K Lush” in real life was quite a revelation to all of the fans. They are heartwarming tracks with a faint note of nostalgia. In contrast to many aggressive and punk-driven songs like “No Fun Club” or “Dear Percocet,” these two gave everyone a moment to slow down and reflect. ‘Let that new day barrel over us,’ sings Iero. People simultaneously holding flashlights and each other’s arms in hope for a better day to come. The message here was clear: whatever obstacles are ahead of us, we will overcome them — so leave the past in the past. Combining quite inspiring lyrics with light instrumentation, the band moved everyone to tears.

          Although I had seen Iero play with different bands three times, this show was an eye-opener for me and many of his other fans. It was the manifestation of sincerity and vulnerability. His songs portray fear and hopelessness as they are, not belittling or glorifying them. Iero has this artistic free spirit you can feel through his music — he allows himself to completely lose it and live and breathe art, poetry and music.

          Barriers are set to protect us from danger, but they also hold us and limit us, and that night Frank Iero proved that anyone is capable of pushing through them. It felt as if this year, Iero finally overcame his musical and mental boundaries, letting himself go wild on stage; and that is something everyone should witness. You can check Frank Iero’s website for upcoming tour dates.