When I first heard 19-year-old Chloe Moriondo (they/them)’s 2021 album, Blood Bunny, I was instantly intrigued. Chloe, who is from Detroit, MI, found success through their YouTube channel (like many of Moriondo’s counterparts in this age bracket), currently has three million subscribers on the platform and over 130 million video views.
While it goes without saying that the resurgence of pop punk music has been moving to the mainstream for the past couple years, I’ve felt like it hasn’t really been done justice. Sure, there are fragments of this sound in Olivia Rodrigo’s 2021 debut album, Sour, which I reviewed here, but Sour certainly felt a bit more “current,” – a contemporary take on the genre that truly got me into music at the level I’m at today: but this time, the audience is a generation of kids who have been stuck inside for almost two years, staring at their phones.
Blood Bunny sounds like it could have been released in the early 2000s: “I Eat Boys” sounds like Simple Plan’s “Welcome To My Life,” “I Want To Be With You” sounds like a bonus track off of All Time Low’s 2011 album, Dirty Work. These two references make sense, considering Moriondo managed to get both groups to appear in their recent music video for the track “Favorite Bands,” where they’re both name dropped: along with Paramore, Pierce the Veil, and others. “Bodybag,” my personal favorite off of Blood Bunny, sounds like “Ordinary” by Avril Lavigne. So I really like reminiscing on these pop punk artists of my childhood, if you can’t tell!
Though my first concert ever was attending a Jonas Brothers concert when I was in middle school, I spent the majority of my teenage years begging my parents to drive my friends and I to the city (Chicago) to see artists like The Maine, All Time Low, and Mayday Parade at one of the many small, general admission venues scattered throughout the city: I think I’ve attended the House of Blues over a dozen times solely for those three bands I mentioned above. There was always a sense of camaraderie I felt attending those shows: everyone shoving themselves into the pit, squished like literal sardines, backs to butts and all. The crowds were sweaty, loud, and oftentimes, mosh pits would unfold: I always got out of the way, though.
Since Moriondo seems like they are incredibly inspired by these musicians who also drove me to become passionate about music and experiencing it live, I anticipated a similar energy while attending their show at The Roxy this past week. It was night one of two sold out shows at the venue: I was happy to check out California native Wallice‘s opening set beforehand: whose tracks like “23” and “Hey Michael” got the crowd warmed up for Moriondo’s set: I honestly enjoyed Wallice’s performance as much, if not more than Moriondo’s.
Moriondo’s hour long performance felt incredibly polished: not necessarily a bad thing, but also something I wasn’t anticipating from a musician who I find to be vulnerable in the music they release. They were incredibly bubbly, giggly, and smiley: absolutely smashing the stereotype that people who play (or listen to) punk or emo music are depressed, low-energy people. The elements of pop punk shows I fell in love with as a teenager were a bit more subdued: the crowd was certainly more relaxed (which is neither here nor there), and while Moriondo had several moments of jamming out on acoustic and electric guitars, there was a lack of banter and crowd engagement that I found enjoyable in this specific genre of music as a kid.
The moment where I felt like there was true, unexpected emotion oozing from Moriondo was towards the end of the set: where a large majority of the audience held up pink pieces of paper reading “when I’m with you nothing is wrong” – a reference to Moriondo’s song “Strawberry Blonde,” (the original lyrics are “when I’m with her, nothing is wrong”). For whatever reason, after they intro’d the song, and I looked around to seeing the crowds holding up their pink slips, it took Moriondo longer than usual to look up from their guitar: as if they knew something special was about to unfold and they were bracing themselves to react. As they looked up, you could see the tears instantly start to well in their eyes, smiling from ear to ear and telling the crowd they loved them. It was a really special and intimate moment: it’s not like that was an easy project for fans to put together. It was interesting to see the most emotional moment of the night during Moriondo’s set wasn’t during their own performance.
It’s possible that Blood Bunny was created in a specific time period of Moriondo’s life where they no longer feel emotionally connected to the subject matter: and while not all of the songs are inherently sad, I felt like there were moments of raw emotion I felt on the album that didn’t really exist in the live performance setting. As I mentioned in the beginning of this story, Moriondo is only 19-years-old, and I’m sure that they were learn how to emote onstage with due time and many more years of experience.
Moriondo’s headlining tour continues into the end of November and in 2022 in Europe: check out the dates here.