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ATP! Live Review: PARAHOY! - Paramore Cruise (March 7th-10th, 2014)

Ahhhh! So Parahoy! was the most amazing experience ever. End of story, end of review.

No, but seriously, when I say that it's the best thing I have ever done, and probably will ever do, that's no exaggeration. At this point, I don't even think the birth of my first child could top it (sorry, future kids!). I will admit, I've never been one for a first-person account, but part of what made Parahoy! so truly special was the way everyone was invited to weave their own individual story on board. What was simply astounding - and potentially unrivalled - was the level of togetherness it provided. For us, as fans, for me, as a writer, and of course, for the bands. There is literally no other experience for music fans on Earth of the magnitude that the hosts, Sixthman, provide, and in all honesty it felt incredibly surreal throughout. For that reason, in order to do its personal elements justice, I needed to introduce this epic adventure (that I never wanted to end!) by speaking from the heart.

With the trip being so long and incorporating so many performances from the 6 bands, the DJs and the comedians, here are the highlights!

Day One:

Milling around waiting for a show to kick off is one thing, but doing it whilst waiting to depart Miami for the Bahamas in blazing sunshine is another. The blow of anticipation was certainly eased by the exploration of a ship that was to become home for the next four days. By the time 5pm came, there almost certainly wasn't a single passenger not on deck to greet Paramore as they stormed onto the stage, launching into a set of around an hour and a half (complete with an inevitable encore, of course!). With a set highlighting their now classic tracks - think "That's What You Get" and "Brick By Boring Brick," as well as a few unheard gems, Hayley, Jeremy, Taylor and co. gave enough to keep fans news and old positively gripped throughout. In all honesty, they probably could have stood up there banging on trash cans for the duration, the euphoria was at such a high that it wouldn't really have mattered. As it happens, the real percussion came in the form of Underoath's super-talented Aaron Gillespie - and it was awesome.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that the band's departure from the pool deck after nailing a rendition of 'Miz Biz' ("Misery Business" for the non super-fans among you) would have been anti-climatic, but you'd also be mistaken. If anything, this performance acted as a catalyst to high spirits across the high seas; the party atmosphere by this point most certainly on board. For some, after dinner meant Tegan and Sara, for others, it meant New Found Glory in the Stardust Theater. With a nod to the nautical nature of the night in their cover of "My Heart Will Go On," made famous by Titanic; this thankfully less tragic rendition formed part of an unmissable, energetic endeavor which saw the band emphatically declare everyone as their "room-mates," as opposed to simply just fans.

Day Two:

With a foray of activities on board both band orientated and otherwise, it would have been physically impossible to take part in everything on offer. Whilst some nursed hangovers from a late night of partying at Friday's 80's themed events, others were straight back into the partying spirit. Whether you watched the hilarious Belly Flop contest with Jeremy from Paramore and comedian Doug Benson, or held out for the awe-inspiring Paraoke hosted on the pool deck by the bands themselves (won by a stunningly talented 14-year-old girl named Taylor), there was literally no opportunity for boredom throughout the day whilst waiting for the bands to start up once again.

Of course, when New Found Glory took the opportunity to perform on the pool deck under a starlit sky, their crowd pleasing greatest-hits style set was plenty to remind everyone why they were really there - for the music, and their shared passion. That isn't to say that the evening's comedic relief in the form of Doug Benson and Jacob Sirof is to be at all discounted. Complete with some brilliant, audience-assisted heckler put-downs and some frankly NOT teen friendly jokes, the significant audience present were then more than equipped for a great night (albeit a somewhat classier one...) at the highly coveted ParaProm, DJed by none other than Bad Rabbits.

Day Three:

With most of the day dominated with a trip to the cruise's very own private island, Great Stirrup Cay, it was a welcome break from the fun and frolics of the cruise itself. With the ship being the never-ending party that it invariably was, a chance to relax in beautiful clear waters on a Bahamas beach was a perfect way to prepare for Paramore's second and final set of the voyage. Of course there were events to take part in - from leisurely snorkelling, to a giant water slide and even a flip-cup tournament with Bad Rabbits, but for the most part, it was a great chance to prepare for the evening's entertainment.

Not everyone had the same ideas, however. Up to 100 kids opted to stay behind on board to snag a front row view, and by the time the masses assembled once again, some were severely exhausted from heat. It goes without saying that for most, this was soon forgotten as Paramore came back once again to wow their captive crowd. For any hardcore fans; this was the ultimate, an assortment of songs of a calibre they'd been begging for. It was a setlist which incorporated modern favorites and then later, the dream - treats from their debut album, All We Know Is Falling, such as "Franklin," "Conspiracy" and "Never Let This Go," and Riot's "Miracle," which until now had seemed like a distant memory. Revisiting simpler times, interspersed by anecdotes of a coming-of-age for the band which went on right before our very eyes. And, for those of us who were merely teens, like them, when the first couple of Paramore records were released, Hayley's words resonated even more deeply than imaginable. There has certainly been a lot of growing up for this group, much like with the rest of us, but this was a night which really reminded us all why they never gave up. Some fans went all out and moshed or danced, others chilled in the hot tub or even the balconies. But it didn't matter. All that mattered is that they all sang their hearts out, screamed at the top of their lungs, and ultimately were there to witness this ridiculously special treat. With an encore which lead straight into "Part Two" from "Let The Flames Begin," this breathtaking goodbye was symbolic of how far they've come. To have been there to witness every step of their journey, is an honor. Needless to say that night nobody - NOBODY - left disappointed.

Although Paramore's performance arguably couldn't be topped, the night was rounded off by a brilliant performance from Shiny Toy Guns, followed by Paramore's bassist Jeremy Davis providing the ultimate finale in the form of a rave. The theme for the evening was 'White Out, Glow Out,' and with a sea of glow sticks against beachy tans, Jeremy's DJ skills were well received. Although not to everyone's taste, nothing was able to spoil the incessant surprises in store, nor the unbelievable atmosphere.

Day Four:

The morning began with something of a sense of foreboding - the end, after all, was nigh. But that didn't stop anyone from making the most of it. The sweltering heat of the 1pm sun wasn't enough to put off New Found Glory from their third and last show of the weekend, nor was it enough to stop the dancing and singing now synonymous with this boat. The guys were shortly followed by Tegan and Sara, whose electro-acoustic vulnerability provided an emotional end to their time on the trip, and highlighted their brilliance further to their frankly adoring fans.

Next, Paramore's Q&A Session, although somewhat of a challenge to hear, provided a fascinating insight into their world, including their past and futures. Let's just say there may be another Parahoy - and perhaps even some kind of Egyptian Pyramid show. So, PARAmids 2015, anyone?

Anyone who knows Paramore knows Hayley and Taylor's mutually favorite band is mewithoutYou, and whilst their erratic and unique style may not have been consistent with the rest of the artists on board, their twilight performance in the theater really did provide proof that diversity can never be a bad thing - especially when Miss Williams joined them onstage mid-set.

With that, the musical aspects of this cruise, this experience of a LIFETIME, were suddenly over, and the guests retired to enjoy pajama night for one huge (drunken) slumber party. But what wasn't over was the memories created. The friendships forged, and even the romances that bloomed, among each of the 2500 passengers from over 30 countries in the world. Parahoy! brought together people from all walks of life, who would otherwise never have met. It sounds lame, cliched and cheesey all in one, but for those who weren't there, you will never understand - it was quite unlike anything else. Between the awesome bands, the beach, the parties, the headphone disco, the theme nights, the impromptu band forming, the midnight singalongs, high-fiving cruise celebrity Rainbow Beard, "washy washy, happy happy," and so much more, it's something the lucky fans - and bands - will never forget.

Until next time, Parahoy!

- Claire Louise Sheridan

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