So I went to NYC last night to check out Fallout Boy - and was frankly blown away. Why, you might ask? Quite a few reasons. I got into the band from a rough combination of hearing on the radio and/or seeing the video for "Dance Dance" back when that was originally released - and followed their musical output very casually over the ongoing years, and didn't really jump in fully with the "Hey, a new album, let's go out and grab it with all due haste!" fervor until their #4 "Folie A Deux" came out. Ironically, this was the album that derailed them into a hiatus - an album that back then they wouldn't even play songs from when trying to tour it because they were literally booed off stage. And yet, last night, songs from that same album were met with rousing sing-along enthusiasm - so what was happening 5 years ago? Beats me, but back to my original thought.
Fallout boy have always struck me as a pop-punk band that maybe scrubs and polishes their tracks a tad much - sure it sounds like catchy pop-punk candy to the ear, but how many bands can ever manage to make their live show sound as good - let alone better - than those polished studio tracks? Fallout boy did - and that's the blown away part. Stump's vocals were on point, on key, and full of expression, and his band was tight and on point all evening long.
They opened (naturally) with current disc's lead track "The Phoenix" and frankly knocked the building down from the get go. And then they threw a canny curve ball - on the album's sequence, second song and first single "My songs know what you did in the dark" comes next - they opted to NOT roll straight into that, and instead deliver a rousing 1-2 punch from album 2 - a punch going right back to their overly-long song title heyday, with "I slept with someone in fallout boy and all I got was this stupid song written about me" rolling right into "A little less sixteen candles, a little more 'touch me'" And as maybe-obvious but still fun curveballs go, it worked quite well. All the while the anticipation for them to do that one built, but they kept making the audience forget that neatly with the stack of fun songs that followed.
From the tabloid/media/press ripping "This ain't a scene, it's an arms race" to the sappy-but-fun 80's-inspired "Miss Missing You", they cover all the bases - and while any band can use a photo montage on stage, the running reel of off-beat couples that ran while they played "Alone Together" made an already poignant track work even better. Mid-show, they even pulled out a little ace in the hole - Pete Wentz took the mic and offered a rather humility-filled thanks to the Ramones, Green Day - bands like those who came long before they did which, as he put it "Basically invented what we're doing up here tonight" - and then pulled the surprise of having Marky Ramone come out and do drums for them while they did covers of "Blitzkrieg Bop" and "Sedated." A few times Stump's vocals seemed to drop too low - at times I wondered if they weren't having tech issues - then I realized - the mic is working, he's just nervous as hell more than likely. Still, a good little way to break up the middle.
Ever the band to be tongue in cheek and make fun of themselves, they paused at the 3/4 mark with an interview clip that was basically someone (am guessing a much younger Iggy Pop, have not been able to track down the source) making fun of people who do encores. This followed with the group doing a b-stage acoustic set - including one of their debut album tracks - which the whole stadium knew by heart even so - giving a nod of respect to a crowd which by cursory glance were probably pre-teens when "Take this to your grave" was released. After a manic, hands-blurring-across-the-pads drum solo, they kicked back in for one more old-school favorite "Dance Dance" and then proved handily that whatever force of nature had people booing them in 2008 had thoroughly disappeared with the crowd going nuts and singing right along with more energy than usual for "I Don't Care" - and then, they dropped the anticipation and let fly with "My songs know what you did in the dark" complete with just-subtle-enough flame-blasts behind them. Live show pyrotechnics can seem overblown and just a distraction - so it's nice to see them used in a limited, just enough to spice up the show kind of way. A rousing 3-pack of "Save rock and roll", "Thanks fr the Mrmrs" and "Saturday" closed out a truly amazing show. Amazing enough to hope they keep doing this for a long time to come.