Paramore's recent success on the charts hasn't translated to the live arena.
The band scored its first No. 1 record in April with its self-titled fourth album but still drew far less than a half-full house to the SAP Center on Friday night.
The roughly 5,000 fans in attendance tried their best to make up for all the empty seats, including those in the completely curtained-off second deck of the arena, showering the band with enthusiasm and affection throughout the 100-minute show.
Vocalist Hayley Williams and her crew certainly have a die-hard fan base, yet this San Jose show underscored many of the reasons why Paramore is having a difficult time building upon its core group of followers.
The group's harmless, unremarkable and derivative music works fine on the radio -- dished out in single servings, sandwiched between, say, Train and Maroon 5. Yet, less is more when it comes to Paramore. The 21-song set the band delivered on Friday translated to one long, monotonous and repetitive evening of musical mediocrity.
Paramore simply has no signature sound. It has found success by making music that is similar, but inferior, to other top pop acts. It got to the point in San Jose that I found myself hoping that the band would play more tunes that sounded like bad Taylor Swift because those songs were so much better than the ones that sounded like bad No Doubt or Avril Lavigne.
It's too bad, since the band's stage show is certainly adequate.
Williams, 24, has improved onstage over the years and now stands as a fairly convincing front woman. She's pretty and appealing, full of energy and enthusiasm, interacts well with the crowd and slings her vocals onstage with the same degree of professionalism that she does in the studio. Watching her perform, it's easy to understand why so many predicted she would have left Paramore for a solo career by now. (If that ever happens, let's just hope that she hires different people to write her songs.)
Meanwhile, the rest of the band has seen significant lineup changes, with original members Josh and Zac Farro departing in 2010 and the remaining two other members of the Tennessee trio -- bassist Jeremy Davis and guitarist Taylor York -- come across as nothing more than faceless sidemen onstage, playing roles about as significant as the three actual sidemen that support the group on tour.
Opening the show with a double-shot from the new album -- "Grow Up" and "Fast in My Car" -- Paramore took great delight in revving the engine early and often. Unfortunately, the band never bothered to shift out of neutral. Songs such as "That's What You Get," "Daydreaming" and "When It Rains" came and went, without really taking us anywhere.
Paramore tried to juice things up a bit, adding a few stripped-down acoustic numbers, bringing out a high school choir during "Ain't It Fun" and even adding a nice snippet of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" to "In the Mourning." And Williams certainly went out of her way to compliment the sparse crowd.
"This is absolutely the best show yet," she told the audience.
The show ended with a balloon drop and confetti cannons being fired. Yet this colorful crescendo felt anticlimactic -- much like the band's music.
Follow Jim Harrington at Twitter.com/jimthecritic, Facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.