A Dream of Middle School Angst: My Chemical Romance at Moda

Almost ten years since their breakup, legends of pop-punk My Chemical Romance are back for their official reunion tour, returning to Portland for the first time since 2011 at a packed Moda Center. Words by Bren Swogger and photos by Emma Davis.

The night had been one years in the making. For some, it was a night they never thought would come, a dream dreamt a decade too late. And for others, it was a chance to relive the dream of childhood, of middle school angst and a time long lost.

My Chemical Romance was a staple of many’s younger years, and they continue to be a gateway into the emo phase for many kids today. Following a series of singles released in 2012, the band—to the heartbreak of many—announced their breakup in 2013.

But now, almost ten years later, the legends of pop-punk are back for their official reunion tour, and the dreams of so many finally get to see the light of day.

Inside the packed Moda Center arena, the floor was split. Though the back was filled with rows of seats, the front half by the stage was all standing general admission. Surrounded by a wall of fans stacked up to the rafters in the bowl, the effect was that of an intimate club show sitting in the middle of the arena. The crowd, pushed up by the stage, became part of the spectacle as the rest of the arena watched their passion and reactions in full view.

Moments before the band’s long-awaited return to the Portland stage—their first here since 2011—the anticipation was at its absolute peak. Chants of MCR! MCR! filled the room, as flashing red lights and a distorted drone sound began to come from the stage.

As the sound crescendoed, the lights finally cut to black, and the return of My Chemical Romance had commenced. 

MCR’s Reunion Tour has been one of surprises so far. The band’s setlist never remains the same night to night, and much in the same way, Gerard Way’s outfits are constantly changing. The lead singer has been pulling out some iconic looks, including gender-bending with dresses on multiple occasions, as well as coming to the stage in a full ghost sheet. 

But this time, in Portland, he keeps it simple, emerging in a green camo army jacket and a t-shirt from their opening band, Youth Codes.

Kicking the show off with their comeback single, “Foundations of Decay”, emotions in the crowd ran at a record high. Fans from the front row barricade all the way to the back of the nosebleeds were on their feet, hugging each other, tears in their eyes, as they screamed the lyrics together. 

After 10 years out of the spotlight, My Chemical Romance were back and better than ever. Through their ever-changing, hit-after-hit 18 song set, they never once showed a sign of slowing down. Their stage-presence was a constant barrage of energy, always sitting at a 10 as Gerard Way screamed, paced, jumped, head-banged, and sang with his entire chest. 

And their fans—crossing generations from middle school to middle aged—united to live a dream long lost, finally come true.

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Emma Davis
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