Headliners: Paramore

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

"The first day is always a disaster," Hayley Williams said, two days into rehearsals for Paramore's latest U.S. tour. "So yesterday absolutely sucked."

Thankfully for fans of the prodigious pop-rock combo, things really came together the second time around. Williams promised a setlist fans can get excited about for the tour that arrives at LC Pavilion Monday.

The Franklin, Tennessee, band is touring in support of last year's "Brand New Eyes," their third and finest collection of adolescent anthems. Slick, smart and power-charged, their music is too pop to be punk and too empowered to be emo, even as each track crackles with the anger, fear and whimsy that those terms have come to signify.

At the center of the storm is Williams, an orange-haired poster girl for wholesome spitfires everywhere. She's passionate but controlled and angsty but supremely confident, commanding each song with a rock star's authority. She retains vestiges of a teenage churchgoer yet sings "The truth never set me free/ So I'll do it myself."

Given Williams' talent and magnetism, it's funny to think bandmates Jeremy Davis and Josh and Zac Farro were initially skeptical of bringing in a female singer. Of course, they were teenage boys at the time.

"We were all friends, so it wasn't like they thought I was this gross icky girl with cooties or something," Williams said. "Avril Lavigne was really popular at the time. We all enjoyed a lot of the same music. We wanted to be in a band together. The guys at the time were like, 'What if we end up being just another Avril thing? No one will take us seriously just because there's a girl.'"

In the end, Williams' talent won out. And kept winning out.

Over the course of two albums, Paramore rose to the forefront of the Warped Tour scene. By the time "Brand New Eyes" dropped last year, they were crossover stars, none more so than Williams, who began getting Gwen Stefani levels of attention around the same time Paramore opened for No Doubt's reunion tour last summer.

Williams has appeared on numerous magazine covers and recently contributed a solo track to the "Twilight: New Moon" soundtrack, and she sings the hook on the new single from rapper B.o.B. She said the increased personal attention hasn't yet yielded internal strife like what No Doubt chronicled in the "Don't Speak" video.

"If anyone's sensitive to it," she said, "it's me."

For Williams' part, she is eager to paint the band as equals and views the brighter spotlight as a way to help the entire group progress. Certainly, she's no longer lacking for respect these days from inside the band or out.

"It's not like I really have so much to prove anymore," Williams said.

She paused for a second to reconsider.

"It's fun proving people wrong when I want to."

When: 7 p.m. Monday, May 3

Where: LC Pavilion, Arena District

Web: paramore.net