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Fall Out Boy Comeback Tour Hits Boston

pat b&w

Fall Out Boy
NK
May 26th 2013
House Of Blues Boston 

Fall Out Boy. There’s a lot to say about this band, but nothing that hasn’t already been said before. And that’s why I’m ending this review right here. Or at least I should, because it’s probably going to be a lot longer than it needs to be, so here’s the short version:

Fall Out Boy returns from four year hiatus. Announces new album and club tour. Tour sells out in seconds. Band releases Save Rock And Roll, which debuts at #1. Band makes triumphant return to Boston in ridiculous fashion. Show includes teenage girls lining up in the freezing rain 12 hours prior to doors opening, Pete Wentz wearing leather pants and some sort of kilt, a lot of flashing lights, and Patrick Stump completely stealing the show.

If that last sentence didn’t make you gag and you’re still reading, here’s the unabridged version:

The show started with scores of people standing in line in the wasteland that exists behind the House of Blues. I’ve seen long lines at this venue, but never one that wrapped all the way around the building like this. The box office had opened at 3PM to allow fans to pick up their “will call only” tickets, and it was obvious that hundreds of fans had arrived much earlier than that.

Despite the line, everyone seemed to make their way inside in time to catch the opening set from Long Island’s NK (formally know as North Korea). The group is led by Ryan Hunter, the charismatic former lead singer of Envy on the Coast. Hunter’s previous band was an underground favorite that had unfortunately called it quits after only two albums in 2010. Hunter is joined in the band by Envy guitarist Brian Bryne, as well as Dilinger Escape Plan drummer Billy Rymer.

NK's Hunter and Bryne

NK’s Hunter and Bryne

“Diverse” would be a good way to describe the band’s sound, as they bounced from Rage Against The Machine-like aggression to Incubus-esque polish, even including a slowed-down “island jam” towards the end of the set. The band’s performance was surprising in that it sounded almost nothing like any of the member’s previous work. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it also means it will be an uphill battle to establish the same type of fan base Envy On The Coast once enjoyed.

After thanking Fall Out Boy for the opportunity to open the show, NK made their way off stage as the countdown to the headliners began. There was very little movement in the crowd, as those who had waited hours in line for a good spot had already staked their claim to the prime viewing spots. As the break carried on past the standard half hour, everyone in attendance began to get antsy, until the lights and music finally cut off and a spotlight illuminated the giant white screen covering most of the stage.

Behind this screen, the shadows of the four band members could be seen as they made their way on stage to Jay-Z’s spoken word intro to “Thriller”. Soon enough, the white screen fell to the floor, revealing the band behind it and inspiring even louder and more ear-splitting shrieks from the crowd.

Lead singer Patrick Stump bounded up to the microphone to start the song while Pete Wentz jumped off a riser at the front of the stage and started spinning in circles like a top. Stump’s booming vocals, Wentz’s theatrics, the falling curtain and all of the flashing strobe lights made for an appearance completely befitting of a band that seems to relish this kind of spectacle.

While some things never change (Wentz’s penchant for showboating instead of actually playing the bass), some thing’s certainly have since the band’s early days. Lead singer Patrick Stump, for example,  has always seemed rooted to the microphone stand and entirely uncomfortable in front of the screeming masses. There was also a time when he wasn’t that great of a singer. What a difference a few years and a couple of gold records makes.

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The newly slimmed-down Stump literally stole the show, rendering Wentz an unlikely supporting character. When not belting out the huge choruses that make up most of the band’s songs, Stump was racing from one end of the stage to the other or jumping up on the risers, all the while keeping up with his responsibilities as the band’s rhythm guitarist.

Stump commented at the start of the show that he was starting to loose his voice and he would need the crowd’s help in singing along. If this is what his voice sounds like on a bad day, it’s hard to imagine what it sounds like on a good day. Stump handled just about all of the set’s 20 songs with ease, and if there were times when he was off, the crowd was too loud for anyone to notice.

The band did include all of their biggest songs, many of them coming early in the set, including “A Little Less 16 Candles A Little More Touch Me”, “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race”, and “Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy” (and wow does this band have some obnoxiously long song titles).

While it was nice to hear the hits, it was all of the non-hits the band played that made the set special. These tracks included “Disloyal Order Of The Water Buffalo” and “What A Catch Donnie” – both from 2008’s Folie a Deux. While the album may not have been as well received as their previous work (and was a big reason they went on hiatus), I think these tracks stack up well against anything else they’ve done, and the rest of the crowd seemed to agree based on their reaction.

Another of the show’s high water marks came in the form of “Hum Hallelujah” from 2007’s Infinity On High. Wentz dedicated the song to Boston, saying the city had “been through a lot over the last month”, and then stepped aside to let Stump’s soaring vocals to once again steal the spotlight.

pete and pat

While primarily focusing on newer material, the band did dust off a few choice cuts from their landmark 2003 effort Take This To Your Grave, including “Tell That Mick He Just Made My List Of Things To Do Today”. Many of those in the audience may have been under 10 years old when the record was released,  but that didn’t stop these songs from inspiring huge sing-alongs that at times made Stump’s presence seem unnecessary.

The set came to a close with two more  solid performances, beginning with a  lively rendition of “I Don’t Care”, the Folie a Deux lead single that may have been a radio flop, but was very well received on this night. They then transitioned into current lead single “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)” – which has not suffered the same fate as “I Don’t Care”, selling over 1 million downloads since its release.

After making their way off stage for a quick break before the encore, the band returned to play “Save Rock And Roll” while the screens behind them displayed images of rock legends like the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, and Johnny Cash. While it seems ridiculous for a band like Fall Out Boy to be insinuating that they are carrying on in the same tradition as these heavyweights, you do have to appreciate the ambition. During the song, Stump did his best to channel another legend, pounding away at the piano and covering the vocals sang on the album by one Elton John.

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Bringing down the curtain on the show was the duo of “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” and “Saturday”, the Take This To Your Grave track that has served as the band’s set closing number for as long as anyone can remember. As is the norm, Wentz put down the bass during this song to climb into the crowd and pass the mic to those who had dedicated their entire Sunday to being close to the stage for the 90 minute set.

The band then took their bows and made their exit while many in the crowd lingered, hoping to find a stray guitar pick on the floor or the friends they lost track of at some point during the set.

If you were at the show, you would probably agree that Fall Out Boy’s comeback is looking like a huge success. Of course, when you are a band that was as big as Fall Out Boy was, you’re always bound to have a dedicated fan base that sticks with you and can help you pack smaller venues like this. The real test will come this fall, when the band embarks on a national arena tour, which will provide a good indication as to whether this comeback is going to be short-lived on whether the band really is primed to return as one of rock’s biggest acts.

Top Ten Records of 2008

December 29, 2008 Leave a comment

I’ve always liked “Best Of” lists, but I’ve always had a lot of trouble compiling my own. In 2005, I made a list of the year’s 25 best records and gave a reason why for each. I’m not nearly that ambitious anymore, and I certainly didn’t hear 25 albums worthy of making such a list this year. That is why I’m going to present you with my Top Ten of 2008. I know, they are completely subjective and you might think all of these records such, but  that’s ok, because everything on this list captured my imagination and reminded me why I still buy cds,  at least for a little while. So here they are:

1) The Gaslight Anthem, The ’59 Sound. Simply an amazing record that captures the spirit of Bruce Springsteen, modern day punk, and everything in between.

2) Fall Out Boy, Folie a’ Deux. It’s hard to justify putting a band like Fall Out Boy on this list, but they’ve simply never let me down. Folie a’ Deux is pure genious.

3) The Matches, A Band in Hope. The most creative and original band I listen to somehow manages to “out-weird” their previous efforts.

4) Alkaline Trio, Agony and Irony. Openning track “Calling All Skeletons” is easily my favorite of the year. I listened to this record non-stop all summer.

5) The Academy Is… Fast Times At Barrington High. Never would I have though this band would make it’s way on to a list like this after their laughable last record, but Fast Times was the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the year.

6) Bayside, Shudder. Classic Bayside.

7) Jack’s Mannequin, The Glass Passenger. I still haven’t decide if I like this or their debut record better, but both are excellent.

8. Funeral For A Friend, Memory and Humanity. The band’s top-notch guitar and drum work is aided by pristine production and Matt Davies’ simple yet supurb song writing skills. This record is a huge step back in the right direction after 2007’s disapointing Tales Don’t Tell Themselves.

9) Coldplay, Viva La Vida or Death And All Of His Friends. I never liked Coldplay in the past, but this record changed that instantly. It’s refreshing to see a band achieve the success that they deserve.

10) Valencia, We All Need A Reason To Believe. This is one of those records that, on the surface seems like another happy and upbeat pop-punk record, but on the surface turns out to be much darker.

Fall Out Boy in New York City

December 18, 2008 Leave a comment

hpim03341 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 ishpim0316 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). 

hpim0325At 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.” 

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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
Thriller
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
Beat It
America’s Suitehearts
Sugar, We’re Going Down
Dance Dance

Encore:
Yule Shoot Your Eye Out
Saturday