My Chemical Romance
Summer isn’t a good time for angst. School, a common source, is out, and black clothing gets awfully hot in the August sun. More so than usual, it’s a time when pop music is devoted to the carefree, the frivolous. On the other hand, the shortening of days that accompanies summer’s wane can darken anyone’s mood. “The summer’s killed by the fall,” laments Ville Valo of H.I.M., one of the acts playing the traveling music festival Projekt Revolution. Well suited to laying summer to rest, the tour gathers a passel of alt-rock bands united by tortured souls, mournfully catchy melodies, and aggression-venting guitars.
Some of the acts manage this formula more artfully than others. Although tour founder and headliner Linkin Park has largely abandoned the cumbersome rap-rock of the band’s blockbuster first two records, the brooding reveries and gradually ascending anthems that fill its new album, Minutes to Midnight, can’t get by on chiming guitars and electronic textures alone. Fortunately, the rest of the main-stage roster helps flesh out Linkin Park’s two-note ennui. The emo-punk band My Chemical Romance released one of last year’s standout records, The Black Parade. Ostensibly a concept album about death, its real subject is the extravagance of 1970s arena rock. Evoking Queen’s theatrical choruses, Cheap Trick’s razor-sharp sarcasm and guitar hooks, and ELO’s symphonic pop, the band pushes its vision to the grandiose, thrilling limit.
The lineup also includes Taking Back Sunday’s taut, tuneful punk; H.I.M.’s ghoulishly elegant goth-metal; and Placebo’s lonely-android cyberpunk. They may be a depressive lot, but these bands make alienation, anxiety, and existential despair as much fun as a summer love song.
Projekt Revolution September 1st at 12:45 p.m. $24.50-$70. First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, 19100 S. Ridgeland Ave., Tinley Park; 312-559-1212, ticketmaster.com.
Photograph: Chapman Baehler