Fall Out Boy in New York City
Whether you’ve been a diehard fan since day one, gave up on them when they got big, or have hated them all along, there’s a good chance that you have some pretty strong opinions regarding Fall Out Boy. The most hated and beloved band in today’s pop-punk/alternative/rock/whatever you call it scene, Fall Out Boy has gone through some drastic changes in the past five years, from Chicago unknowns, to underground favorites, to multi-platinum stars. November 16th 2008 marked another step in the bands evolution, for it was the release day of their 5th full-lenght album, Folie a’ Duex. While it will be difficult to match the success of their past two records, Folie a’ Duex has received generally positive reviews, and the band’s rise to pop prominence in 2009 is almost assured. Their show at the Nokia Theater in Times Square served as a CD release party, and in typical Fall Out Boy fashion, it was bigger and more elaborate than anyone would have expected. From on-stage camera men, to dancing bears, to a surprisingly strong performance from frontman Patrick Stump, this show pretty much had it all.
While the doors were scheduled to open at 7 and the show was to start at 8, that was more wishful thinking, as hundreds of fans waited in the snow and bitter cold for an additional 45 minutes and then saw opening act Tyga take the stage around 8:45. The 19 year old rapper did what an opener is supposed to do in this situation, keep it fun and keep it short. Tyga, along with a second rapper and an MC performed for only about 20 minutes. The set included a cameo from Barack Obama, or at least a masked impersonator of the President-elect, as well as bits and pieces of a number of different pop songs. Throughout the set, an obnoxious advertisement for Nokia was displayed on the stage’s LED backdrop, a reminder of how overly corporate the show seemed at times. While Fall Out Boy themed Nokia banners lined the balconies, the corporate sponsor had helped keep the face value of tickets to only $10. For the lucky fans who were able to avoid the ebay route and score tickets at this price, I doubt the sponsor’s presence was too much of an issue.
After a relatively short wait between sets, the curtain opened to reveal Fall Out Boy, who began the show with “Thnks Fr TH Mmrs.” While this is one of their biggest singles, the crowd didn’t exactly erupt, for that reaction was reserved for the start of the next song “Thriller.” The last time I saw Fall Out Boy was nearly two years ago, before the release of Infinity on High, and at that time, they were an “ok” live band, at best. Even this was a big improvement over the first time I had seem them, right after the release of From Under the Cork Tree, when they were a relatively terrible live band. At this show, Patrick’s vocals were spot on, and the instrumentation wasn’t bad either, especially considering Pete Wentz’s relative disinterest in playing bass. Despite the fact that this was a CD release show, the band would focus mainly on material from their last two albums, playing only three Folie a’ Deux songs.
An element of this show (and I’m guessing any Fall Out Boy show) that can’t be ignored is just how much Pete Wentz feels he needs to talk between each and every song. I got the idea Wentz has a general idea of what he wants to mention beforehand, but most of it comes across as being completely off the cuff. Sometimes it works, and sometimes his comments and quips miss completely. leaving the crowd, and even the rest of the band, itching to get back to what everyone came for. On this night, Wentz touched on subjects raning from Twighlight, to the New York Giants, to high school bullies, to Cobra Starship frontman Gabe Saporta’s upcoming vocal cord surgery. Wentz’s ramblings did lead to a good deal of crowd interaction, which is never a bad thing, and it was obvious the band was enjoying playing at a venue that is more intimate than most of their tour stops.
While Fall Out Boy would go on to blast through “Take Over, The Break’s Over” and “Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner,” the spectacle began with Folie a’ Deux’s first single “I Don’t Care.” The band was joined on stage by two backup dancers and strobe lights flashed on and off, as did the bands instruments, which were outfitted with their own LED displays. After playing more older material, including Take This To Your Grave’s “Chicago Is So Two Years Ago,” the band debuted another new track, “Head First Slide Into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet.” At this point, the band was joined on stage by the two original back-up dancers, as well as two more dancers, both dressed as bears. Talk about over the top. The third and final new song Fall Out Boy would play was “America’s Suitehearts,” this time with only the band members on stage (thankfully).
At one point, Pete stopped talking long enough to allow Patrick to tell a story, this one about the first time he spent time on his own in New York. While the band thanked the crowd for being so enthusiastic and commented on how New York had always been one of their favorite places, the crowd was somewhat of a disappointment. While everyone seemed to know all of the words, they only sang them for about half of each song, and then seemingly lost interest. This changed slightly with the last two songs of the set, From Under the Cork Tree hits “Sugar We’re Going Down” and “Dance Dance.” As an intro to “Sugar,” the band played a spirited cover of Estelle’s “American Boy.” This was after they had already played “the oldest song they knew,” that being their cover of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”
After a very short time off stage, the band returned for the encore to play “Yule Shoot Your Eye Out,” just in time for the holidays. Of course, this was not until Pete Wentz could deliver another monologue, this one about Gabe Saporta. An interesting fact: Wentz wears currently wears a Midtown wrist band with the lyrics “God I wish I could hate you for the rest of my life” inscribed on it. Midtown is the criminally unappreciated rock band Saporta left to form Cobra Starship. After waxing nostalgic about Midtown, Wentz would help toss bucket fulls of candy canes into the crowd before closing the show by putting down his bass and grabbing the mic for set list staple “Saturday.”
While Fall Out Boy continues to close shows with the same song they have for years, little has remained the same since their Take This To Your Grave days. Their new record is certainly the most wide ranging and ambitious of their career, and arguably their best. While they are sure to go on to tour arenas around the world in the coming year, their record release show in this intimate Times Square venue was a memorable “only in New York” experience. The day before, the band had put on an impromptu accapella performance in Washington Square Park, and after this show they would hustle across the street to Virgin Megastore to sign thousands of autographs. While they have grown in stature and popularity, it is refreshing to see the way that Fall Out Boy interacts with theirs fans, both inside and outside the venue.
Fall Out Boy Setlist:
Thnks fr th mmrs
Take Over, The Breaks Over
Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner
I Don’t Care
Chicago is so Two Years Ago
A Little Less 16 Candles
This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race
Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet
I’m Like a Lawyer
I Slept With Someone In Fall Out Boy
Grand Theft Autumn
Sugar, We’re Going Down
Yule Shoot Your Eye Out