There's a funny sentiment in one of the songs on the new My Chemical Romance album The Black Parade: Teenagers scare the death out of me. (We're paraphrasing.)
If it's true, the band must have been terrified on Sunday.
All around the band in Tampa's Ford Amphitheater on Sunday night were 17,500 screaming teenagers and fans - teens in mascara, teens in Mohawks and teens in the mosh pit. Their parents, too.
It was the 97X Next Big Thing 6 concert, the first of the station's annual year-end alt-rock extravaganzas to take place outside Clearwater's Coachman Park. The venue change turned out to be a pretty good thing for the 12-hour show, with two stages, wide walkways and an expansive lawn in the warm December sun.
You couldn't argue with the lineup, one of NBT's strongest yet. My Chem's The Black Parade is an operatic punk odyssey that sounds like it was written by five drama club punks who spent high school watching The Nightmare Before Christmas and camping out for tickets to Rent. Which is probably the case.
But from the moment singer Gerard Way strode onstage - ditching his goth drum major look for a conventional coat-and-tie ensemble - it was clear The Black Parade was written with larger venues in mind. My Chem led off with the album's first three songs, and every chorus screamed to be screamed.
You think of My Chem as a punk band, but onstage, they sounded at times like Queen, Bon Jovi, Coldplay, even Billy Joel.
Taking Back Sunday channeled their inner Stones for an outsized performance from singer Adam Lazzara, who whirled, stomped, break-danced and whipped the microphone cord around his neck throughout a frenetic 50-minute set.
Led by singer Jared Leto (yes, the actor), 30 Seconds to Mars has cultivated a worshipful following - many fans walked around wearing the band's trademark white, black and red. Love him or hate him, Leto knew how to whip the crowd into a frenzy, tossing roses into the mosh pit, even lugging his guitar and a microphone into the thick of the crowd for a solo performance. At the end of a riotous set, the band marched directly offstage, waving a flag, to sign autographs.
Angels and Airwaves, fronted by former Blink 182 singer Tom DeLonge, offered a handful of lengthy, pulsating, U2-like anthems, and the crowd devoured grungy radio hits by Canadian rockers Three Days Grace. Power-chord poppers OK Go brought down the house with a flawless performance of a dance routine for A Million Ways.
A few of the undercard bands could actually be called Next Big Things, like L.A.'s Shiny Toy Guns, and two bands from Chicago: Plain White T's, who got the mosh pit rolling with witty, melodic punk riffs, and Kill Hannah, whose fuzzy, thundering cover of Billy Idol's Rebel Yell got even the boomers in the crowd on their feet.
Also on the bill were Luna Halo, Say Anything, the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Shaun Morgan of the band Seether. Two local bands, Truly Sunday and Trace of Day, squeezed in tight, aggressive, early-morning sets on a side stage.
Jay Cridlin can be reached at (727) 893-8336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.