Who'd have thought there'd be a day when popped-collared preppies and eyeliner-clad emo kids put aside their differences, joined hands, and swayed harmoniously to the same tune?
Ok, well maybe not joined hands, but there was definitely harmonious swaying.
It was impressive to see the diverse group of fans who gathered for the Honda Civic Tour at the Verizon Wireless amphitheatre on May 18th. From restless 5 and 6 year olds on their parents’ shoulders to the kids in all black with skin tight pants, to the teeny-boppers in Hollister mini-skirts and everyone in between, Fall Out Boy’s appeal appears to be universal.
The show opened with Cobra Starship who, though not yet a household name, definitely has rock star potential. As the first band to go onstage at 6 o’clock, they were not met with the largest reception.
As guitarist Ryland Blackinton commented, “I see a lot of blue seats, but where there’s not blue seats there’s sexy people, and we appreciate that.”
This playful tone was kept up through the entirety of the set and of all 5 bands that performed, Cobra Starship was probably the most entertaining. Musically, they have an interesting punk/rock/electronic sound enhanced by Victoria Asher on the keytar. The rest of the band consists of singer Gabe Saporta, bassist Alex Suarez, and drummer Nate Navarro. In addition to their current claim to fame, “Snakes on a Plane (Bring it)”, the band also performed up-beat party songs like “The Church of Hot Addiction” and “Send my Love to the Dancefloor, I’ll See You in Hell (Hey Mister DJ)” that began to get the crowd warmed up. Gabe’s energy was also apparent as he was constantly leaping around on stage.
The band’s between song banter, however, is really what made them stand out. At one point, a dildo was thrown around on stage accompanied by Gabe exclaiming:
“Oh my God, can you imagine reaching for a towel and finding a giant dildo?” to which Ryland replied: “It’s like when you go to the refrigerator in the morning and reach for the orange juice…and instead there’s a dildo!” Other onstage antics included a performance from “Ryland’s magic butt” (when the guitarist dramatically turned and violently shook his ass) and teaching the crowd to do “get their fangs up.” Cobra also shook things up by bringing both William Beckett from The Academy Is… and Paul Wall up to sing parts of their set.
The black sheep performer was obviously Paul Wall who’s southern rap stylings just didn’t seem to fit between the collection of pop/punk bands surrounding it. The audience seemed confused for the most part while he belted out his hits such as “Break ‘em Off” and “I’m Throwed.” However, by the end of his set he managed to get most of the crowd cheering for the finale which was the popular Nelly hit “Grillz.”
The Academy Is... followed Paul Wall like the calm after the storm to the delight of the audience who was brought once again to their feet. Singer William Beckett’s soothing vocals were a breath of fresh air accompanied by Mike Carden and Michael Guy Chislett on guitar, Andy Mrotek on drums, and Adam Siska on bass. The venue was lulled with the familiar pop/rock melodies of “Slow Down” and “The Phrase that Pays.” The group was obviously a crowd favorite, and the younger fans were especially appreciative and stood on their seats to sing along to the first tunes they had recognized all evening.
By the time +44 came to the stage, the audience was restless for the main event. The majority of seats were filled and it had started to get dark. An amusing diversion between sets was the capability to send text messages that would appear on the big screens above the stage. A couple that got the best reactions read: “Where is my mom?” and “Who is FOB?”
The band received a good reception, due possible in part to the familiar faces of Blink 182’s singer and bassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker. Other band members were guitarists Craig Fairbaugh and Shane Gallagher. The white sheets and black light effect they used on stage was very cool visually and Mark kept the crowd laughing with comments like “Hey St. Louis, nice work on that Arch” and “Fuck ya I pulled up my own socks, Fall Out Boy pays people to do that shit for ‘em but I do it myself.” His voice is undeniably punk but also undeniably Mark Hoppus, which makes it difficult not to expect “All the Small Things” as each song passes. The band has to be given credit, however, for creating a more soulful, mature sound with thoughtful lyrics as in “Lycanthrope” and “Baby, Come On.” They did throw the crowd a bone, however, by performing the Blink 182 classic “What’s My Age Again?”
Needless to say, by 9:30 when the headliner came out, fans of all ages were on their feet and chomping at the bit. The set started on a rather serious note with bassist Pete Wentz’s video “Displace Me” which encourages fans to participate in an event of the same name on April 28th to protest the war in Northern Uganda. The video includes footage of African citizens who have been displaced from their homes as well as videos of Wentz as a child which drew screams of joy from an overanxious crowd for whom, despite four other performances, the real show was just getting started.
They weren’t disappointed. Fall Out Boy delivered, musically as well as theatrically. For their entrance, the band was literally propelled up through an opening in the stage accompanied by an array of lights and pyrotechnics which continued throughout the show to favorites like “Dance Dance” and “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down.” In addition, Pete Wentz and lead guitarist Joe Trohman filled the show with energy by leaping on and off of amps and jumping into 360’s. While some might argue that this decreased the musical quality (it’s not very easy to play an instrument while upside down in mid-air), the crowd loved every minute of it. Drummer Andy Hurley remained upstage for most of the show, managing to keep the upbeat tempo despite sporadic flames shooting up around him less than 10 feet away.
As the most popular band member is usually the lead singer, it was surprising to learn that the object of the crowd’s affection was not rhythm guitarist Patrick Stump, but bassist and frontman Pete Wentz. At 27, he is the oldest and yet most appealing member. Playing most of the show with his black hood up and his baby-face in a pout, Pete ran the show. When Pete talked, the crowd listened. When Pete sang, the crowd swooned. If Pete said “jump,” the crowd would ask “how high?” While the other band members remained somewhat passive in regards to the crowd, the bassist got personal more than once. After explaining that the show would be filled with controversial language, he proceeded to announce that “Spiderman 3 sucked.” It was obvious by the crowd’s ensuing shrieks that Pete could do no wrong.
Between the crowd’s adoration and the band’s energy, a great show was almost inevitable. Their music, while mainstream pop/punk for the time along with bands like
Panic! At the Disco and My Chemical Romance, has relentlessly catchy tunes, a fun dance beat, and the unique vocals of Patrick Stump. While these elements tend to draw the typical 12-14 swooning teenybopper crowd, Pete Wentz puts just enough emotion in the lyrics to attract the kids with tight black tees and thick rimmed glasses…not to mention anyone in between who just happens to like what they do.