The very first time that I saw Fall Out Boy was actually at this very same venue. The lineup was for the Honda Civic Tour in 2007 (a quite spectacular lineup for the time, with +44, The Academy Is…, Paul Wall, and Cobra Starship, sending even the most accustomed Warped Tour attendee into a fit of excitement). I was never sure if I’d see them back here again.
Lo and behold, they’re back. They’re better than they’ve ever been in their entire career. Their musicianship is on fire (literally, just wait until you see how much goddamned pyro they use during particular songs), and they have produced yet another hit of a tour.
As I’ve said in previous reviews of their shows, Fall Out Boy have always treated the show as a show: from start to finish, they focus on making sure that their audience is entertained from the very first artist, all the way until their headlining set graces the stage. Past openers have ranged from All Time Low, From First To Last, All-American Rejects, Twenty-One Pilots, and a plethora of other artists that have either made their mark on the scene or have become staples in it.
This time around, the first artist to take the stage was MAX (full name Max Schneider), the newest act to take up residence on Fall Out Boy bass player Pete Wentz’ newly re-launched label, DCD2 (formerly Decaydance). I think I had first heard MAX perform music a few years ago on a Nickelodeon show of some kind, but I knew the guy had an incredible voice. Turns out he’s got kickass stage presence too. The set had a very heavy pop influence about it, but it worked. For the first act up, and with minimal stage space, he had a massive amount of energy and a voice that got everyone’s attention. I look forward to seeing this guy the next time he comes around on his own tour.
Next up: Hoodie Allen. This was one of my most anticipated acts of the entire show. For years, I’d been told to see this guy, particularly because he frequents the Bay Area. After he took the stage, I understood why. Allen’s set was very high energy as well, with hip-hop fueled tracks leading the audience in a frenzy of excitement. A lot of people were in attendance for Allen, rapping and singing along to every word. While there was a large deal of hip-hop that dominated the set, a few of Allen’s songs ventured into pop-rock territory, and played out successfully.
Now let’s talk about what everyone THINKS is the elephant in the room: the truth is, Fall Out Boy picked a great co-headliner. The Internet was buzzing back in the spring when it was first announced that the band would be touring with hip-hop icon Wiz Khalifa. The bill didn’t seem like a perfect fit. But even if you’re not a fan of Khalifa’s music, or even a fan of hip-hop, his set is extremely entertaining. Wiz Khalifa is able to command the stage with a swagger and energy about him, without the cockiness that comes with a lot of hip-hop stars you see nowadays. His opening tracks included hits like “Roll Up” and “Black and Yellow”. I found this to be a smart move on his part, as it would get the attention of Fall Out Boy fans off the bat: play the hits first, then pull them into the lesser known material.
Khalifa’s set had a great flow to it. Its rhythm and pace were consistent, slowing down at the proper moments, only to speed it back up (and let’s not forget the two inflatable joints that were thrown into the crowd. A sight to remember.) His set culminated with the emotionally charged “See You Again”, a track that was recorded for the seventh Fast and the Furious film, released this past May.
Anticipation was in the air. Everyone was anxiously awaiting the moment of truth. The lights go out. Screams fill the air. The video screen finally lifts after what seems like decades, and there they are. The four gentlemen that fans filling the fifteen thousand seat amphitheater have been waiting all day and night for. “Sugar We’re Going Down” immediately gets everyone singing. The anthemic “Irresistible” follows, proving that fans are dedicated as ever, and WILL learn the words to a new album, after all of these years, and hang on every syllable that Patrick Stump ejects into the microphone. The pyro-filled “[The] Phoenix” follows.
The set continues through a cavalcade of Fall Out Boy songs, old and new, spanning the band’s entire career. At one point in the show, the band members venture off to the lawn seating, giving an acoustic performance of “Immortals” and “Young Volcanoes” to the mass of surprised fans that thought they settled for the cheap seats.
An aspect of Fall Out Boy that those who don’t attend the live shows need to understand is that even though a great deal of production can coat the tracks on an album like American Beauty/American Psycho, their live execution of songs like the title track and “Centuries” are pure, raw, rock n’ roll. Further evidence that the live set is a completely different experience from just pressing play and listening to an album.
My personal favorite moment of the night was watching the band perform Infinity On High’s “Thanks For The Memories”. The giant FOB LED-design that was plastered against the screen reminded me of that very summer in 2007 when I first saw them. It reminded me that Fall Out Boy are at the top of their game, and that despite the many hardships they’ve each detailed in their songs, writings, and even magazine interviews, there’s very little indication that they’ll be slowing down anytime soon. Keep saving rock ‘n’ roll, gentlemen.
The 'Boys of Zummer' concludes on August 10 in Los Angeles. Visit Livenation.com for more ticketing information.
This has been another Shameless Promotion.