My friend hung out with Fall Out Boy, drank with them, and then together they watched a dude pee out of a window.
That story took place in 2003 in Madison, Wisconsin after the band had played one of 280 shows they would perform that year. My friend told me this fraction of a story a few years later, when Fall Out Boy started to rise with “Sugar We’re Going Down” in 2005. I remember this was one of the first “I was there” moments I had ever heard.
I also remember — vividly — pantomiming a microphone in my college dorm room and lip-synching to that song frequently. My friend’s love for Fall Out Boy started to reflect onto me. We shared the shit out of this band, so much so that an entire evening’s plans would consist of going over to each other’s places, drinking Sparks, putting on Fall Out Boy, and pretending that we were in the band. We were in our early twenties. We were in a tiny state school in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin, posting lyrics as our AIM away messages, untethered to any kind of aesthetic or cultural code — Twitterless, clueless, hapless, and really pleased with ourselves, in general.
Fall Out Boy made sense when I was actually fuelled by ramen — even when I probably was a little too old to think that “I’ll be your number one with a bullet / A loaded God complex cock it and pull it” was a thoughtful, economic lyric. Back then, it was a mix of environment, low emotional intelligence, and this tether I had with this friend. I don’t know if you oblige any of your friends with loving a band they love, but maybe your obligatory love turned into something real but as soon as that tether stretches too far, the simulation starts to collapse and all the love you had for Fall Out Boy becomes just another thing from your past like final exams and Donnie Darko and Sparks. Thks fr th mmrs.
Presumably, there were a handful of other people like this, like me at Fall Out Boy’s show at Subterranean Lounge in Chicago. We are in Group 2. Presumably, there were three groups in attendance for their first show back since 2009.
Ninety-five percent of the crowd was in Group 1: The Fans. They are die-hard and steadfast, many of whom waited hours in the cold to be at the front of the line, still many more with black X’s on their right hands, frequenters of r/falloutboy, and total pop-punk, Finch-loving, lip-syncing-in-their-dorm-room “Believers” — the official honorific for Fall Out Boy fans.
Then there’s the 1% of the crowd / 95% of the world in Group 3: The Who Cares group, the Fall Out Boy LOL group. They didn’t like them back in 2007 and sure don’t give a shit about them in 2013 especially with a record coming out called Save Rock and Roll (are you kidding me?) and a video featuring 2 Chainz for some reason. To Group 3, they are some R&B-arena-pop-punk band here to ask Maroon 5 or Imagine Dragons for an easement on their land. It’s Entourage but they’re a fucking band: Vinnie is bassist Pete Wentz, Eric is singer/guitarist Patrick Stump, Johnny Drama is drummer Andy Hurly, and Turtle is guitarist Joe Trohman.
Fall Out Boy’s performance at SubT last night left each group really pleased with themselves, in general. Near the end of the almost two-hour set of hits, rarities, and one new song, Wentz preached on the microphone, “There’s lots of stuff about [our reunion, our show, our album] that will be written on the Internet. Don’t let them tell you how it was. Take a snapshot of this moment and remember how this was for you.”
This kind of critical girding is normally pretty insufferable, but for Fall Out Boy it made sense…in a kind of doltish way. This intimate show at a 375-capacity venue was a singular moment for everyone there, band included. “It feels like my first time, you got me so nervous,” said Stump, fit, and dressed initially in a fedora and thick-rimmed glasses. After an (in)definite hiatus, this was the band’s first show in over three years. No matter what group you’re in, this was a moment to remember for how it was for you, whether it amounted to a trip to Chicago from Philadelphia only to get screwed out of a ticket, a snarky joke that got hella traction on Twitter, or really made you want to text your old friend.
Wentz — whose outfits devolved from a black cowl-necked leather vest, to a hoodie, to a t-shirt that read “CHASE ME LIKE THE BEATLES GET ME HIGH LIKE BOB MARLEY” which looks to be something based on a Tweet of his — stage-dived just as opener “Thriller” kicked in — a reminder to the crowd (and perhaps themselves) that, yes, they once got a cosign from Jay-Z.
From the balcony, the crowd ebbed and flowed with arms outstretched (so many X’s on the hands) for the first half hour. “We wanted to do this show here, where people bleed, sweat, and crowd-surf,” said Wentz and oh was there crowd surfing. Fall Out Boy may be nerfcore compared to any hardcore band, but you cannot control a room full of catastrophic emotions brought on by pop punk.
Girls’ wrists floated up to their foreheads as they closed their eyes and sang, and guys barreled toward the stage toppling the kids in front — and vice versa. If you had it on mute, it looked like a Minor Threat show c. 1982 DC. During “Arms Race” I counted five people crowd surfing. During “Dance, Dance”, six. Keep in mind, this is coming from a band that wrote and performed a song called “I’m Like a Lawyer with the Way I’m Always Trying to Get You Off (Me & You)”.
Skipping over their song-titling game for now, Stump’s voice was the highlight of whole show. Previously, his croon could be shaky, pitchy, unsure whether to do the Justin Timberlake thing he tried to cop on his solo LP Soul Punk, or the New Found Glory thing we all are familiar with. Last night his hybrid R&B/adenoidal pop punk voice sounded like he found a new wheelhouse. Stump took the smooth runs of ”Me & You” and the worthy power ballad “What A Catch, Donnie” with the same stroke that he commanded “Arms Race” and “Dance Dance”.
New single “Light ‘Em Up” and previous single “I Don’t Care” push the band in a direction that I really don’t like, angling for the slow-mo Bud Light commercial rather than the (relatively) more preferable Phil Colins-y mid-tempo jams and snot-nosed kiss-offs. They sounded fine, but move too far into party rock for these hearts-out emo kids, and you could see it in the crowd: Zero crowd surfers.
Though it was Stump’s show through and through, Wentz continued to chew the scenery behind him, even though the precision of camera-shy Hurly and Trohman is what makes Fall Out Boy sound like a canned, major-label project to begin with. The compression on their albums can be unlistenable at times, but when you see FOB in a small club like this, you can tell they put in the work. The band is on beat, on pitch every step of the way — small potatoes for a lo-fi hardcore band, but for a rock band that’s eying the Top 40 in 2013, an air-tight live show like fun.’s is crucial.
Group 1 sweated with the band all the way to the encore, screamed at every opportunity, called for Wentz’s final article of clothing to come off, engaged in the kindest push pits around. They sang along to every word, shit-eating grins on their faces, even when a guy in a Napalm Death t-shirt kicked them in the head. It was the biggest night of their year, and one could probably say that about Fall Out Boy, too.
Group 3 just LOL’d at the whole damn thing.
Group 2 is going to share this with a friend and probably be like, “Remember that time when we…”
Photography by Brian Sorg
I Slept With Someone in Fall Out Boy and All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me
A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More “Touch Me”
Dead on Arrival
This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race
Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner
I’m Like a Lawyer with the Way I’m Always Trying to Get You Off (Me & You)
Tell That Mick He Just Made My List of Things to Do Today
Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy
Calm Before the Storm
What a Catch, Donnie
The Take Over, the Breaks Over
I Don’t Care
My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘Em Up)
Sophomore Slump or Comeback of the Year
Beat It (Michael Jackson cover)
Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down
Chicago Is So Two Years Ago
Thnks fr th Mmrs