On a hot night in July, approximately Warped Tour degrees outside, thousands of Fall Out Boy fans took over Riverbend Music Center. I, myself, being one of them. Attempting to maintain my professionalism, my inner teenager was giddy. Fall Out Boy has been one of my favorite bands for as long as I can remember. I sometimes try to suppress this notion or think that it’s somehow embarrassing to be a fan, but let’s be honest – I’m a big ole fan. I even have a Fall Out Boy tattoo, thus I am the one who seemed fitting to cover this show, and I am oh so grateful.
After getting stuck in a decent line of traffic, this elder emo’s calves were burning trying to hustle my way to the box office to pick up my ticket. As I made my way through the crowd, I was met with the echoes of a female vocalist, and her band: Carr. I always love when there’s some girl power happening at an emo show. The band had just the right amount of edge and sass to kick the night off. It’s always difficult to woo a crowd when the sun is out, but they were doing the dang thing! (With cameos from their blowup doll bouncing around in the pit.)
Fans sang and bobbed their heads along to the house music playing in between sets, appealing to the crowd with artists like Say Anything, Head Automatica, My Chemical Romance and more.
Royal & the Serpents, or RATS as their backdrop stated, really knew how to work the crowd. With an “I pledge allegiance to the drag…” line in their song, the crowd was captivated pretty quickly. Not being familiar with them, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But their energy was killer, and they knew how to get the crowd involved. She had the right badass energy that pulls you in. Lying on the stage, kicking her feet in the air, she had the angst and rage we all needed. Building the energy, they closed out their set with a song I’d definitely heard whilst scrolling through our frenemy known as TikTok. This got more fans up and dancing, proving they were the perfect support prior to Bring Me the Horizon.
As the rain swept over the entire venue, an overwhelming eruption of screams let out from the folks on the lawn. They were definitely getting drenched and, I can only assume, loving every second of it. I was lucky enough to be under the covered pavilion and getting the waves of mist flowing under the structure while my brother was enjoying my old lawn tickets. Sorry, bro. But also, you’re welcome. With no weather delays, Bring Me the Horizon (BMTH) hit the stage. Hard.
Screaming erupts again. It all came back to me: the screaming of girls for the one and only Oli Sykes. I forgot what it was like to watch BMTH live. The easiest way for me to describe him these days is an alternative Harry Styles. I was shocked to see that he’d swapped out his tanks and skinny jeans for high-waisted slacks. But, of course, he was still phenomenal. Starting strong, with attempts to form a mosh pit in the pit – and I respect it – he screamed in his British slang to get the crowd going. A man true to his word, Oli made his way out to the lawn to dance and sing with the fans. They held up their end of the bargain to create a mosh, and he was in the thick of it with the fans. As the camera followed his stroll through the thousands of people high-fiving the lead singer, there was one moment that made me tear up a little as he hugged a fan on his way back to the stage. It was as if he knew in that moment that she needed that hug. It was a wholesome moment and reminded me why I love experiencing live music so much. It brings joy to my soul. Even the support bands came out into the audience to check out BMTH’s set.
Now, the moment we were all waiting for, Fall Out Boy was up next.
I often refer to Fall Out Boy as my guilty pleasure band or the band that I fangirl over. (And trust me, this is a bold statement. I am not the type to fangirl). The truth is I owe a lot to Fall Out Boy. I don’t really believe in “guilty pleasures.” I like what I like, and I’m okay with that. There’s something about the band that takes me back to hearing “Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy” for the first time. Adding their discs to my CD organizer alongside my NOW CDs and lugging it around everywhere I went. Listening to the albums on my Discman. Begging my parents to allow me to go to their concerts. The thing about Fall Out Boy is that they’re what introduced me to a wider variety of music.
Growing up, I was susceptible to the popular radio hits. I vividly remember throughout school turning on the radio, flipping through the stations and knowing every song on every station. I’ve always absorbed music and loved it. I was growing up in this age of emo, pop/punk craze that was hitting the airwaves, and I was hooked. Skinny jeans, black eyeliner, swoop bangs, studded belts – it was the era, and I was a fan. Fall Out Boy was who opened my eyes to this side of music, which eventually led me to more alternative rock, indie rock, singer/songwriter, folk, etc.
I was explaining this to someone the other day, and I always feel like I have to justify why I adore this band, and this person told me, “Just think what your life would be like had you not listened to Fall Out Boy.” They’re right. What would my taste in music be had I not picked up that FOB album all those years ago?
Back to the show…
The stage was set. Literally. The sun had gone to sleep, but we were wide awake and ready to rock. The place was buzzing in anticipation of Fall Out Boy. Fall Out Boy’s new cover of “We Didn’t Start The Fire” with appropriately updated lyrics for their June 2023 release was playing. Confused as to why their own song was playing over the speakers, but knowing better, I assumed it was all a part of their plan.
The house music shuts off and the floating smile/frown sign is glowing, a beacon in which we all were mesmerized. Their signature red curtain. We knew. It was happening. A short monologue comes over the speakers, and the excitement is infectious. I want to bottle up this moment. These are the times I get emotional. I live for this shit: the dark stage, the crowd screaming, the phones ready to record the opening number. We’re all united in this moment. We’re here for the same reason: to forget the woes of the real world and to be transported through the decades of the storylines that Fall Out Boy has so graciously given us over the past 20 years.
There I am, still trying to pretend to be cool, calm and collected. And there they are Patrick, Pete, Joe and Andy, like old friends. The journey has begun. Opening with their recent hit “Love From the Other Side,” pyrotechnics were a blazing. This show was on fire, literally. And I could feel the heat from my seat during “The Phoenix.” Pete’s notorious flame torch bass was something I had forgotten about from previous tours, but it was good to see it hadn’t left their repertoire!
During the show, we were transported through different eras. (See what I did there? Taylor Swift can’t monopolize this word; although I will say, it was interesting to see that the friendship bracelet trend had swept this show as well. Pete was even passed a bracelet from the pit.) We got a glimpse at nods to each album, to various music videos, and to the inside jokes or Easter eggs within the Fall Out Boy fandom. They didn’t stick to specific albums when they were playing; they spread the love, ranging from “Evening Out With Your Girlfriend” to “So Much (For) Stardust” and everything in between. The red curtain was back for the classic “Sugar, We’re Going Down.” We traveled under the sea for “Uma Thurman,” “A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More ‘Touch Me,’” and then this is when some of my favorite moments occurred. Andy’s drum riser was pulled down stage, the foursome got pulled in together closer and the lighting rig lowered to create the feeling of being at an intimate venue, with a smaller stage footprint. It felt like we were back in their “Evening Out With Your Girlfriend” and “Take This To Your Grave” days, playing tracks off of these albums. I was in heaven.
The stage opens back up, and our new pal Blitz the Doberman’s giant floating head is creeping its way onto stage with the guys. Bobbing his head, floating around, being a real alpha dog, if you will. He mouths the lyrics to the songs from Folie à Deux (one of Fall Out Boy’s most underrated albums, in my opinion, treasure before its time), as Pete and Patrick interact with this ginormously glorious, borderline nightmare-like creature. We then are greeted by an evil, Snow White-esque tree of sorts and hear more from the newest record, So Much (for) Stardust. Fans light up their phones, covering the flashlights with pink paper to create a sea of pink for “Fake Out.” I had forgotten how we did this with purple during the MANIA tour.
In classic Pete Wentz fashion, he makes Patrick feel awkward on stage, and Patrick is set to play solo on the piano. If you’re doubting that this man isn’t singing live, believe me, he is. Hitting us with an amazing medley of “What A Catch, Donnie” (I almost cried) into “Golden” (almost cried again) into a wild cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” (which is a special song for me – cheesy, I know, but it’s my parents’ song). Let’s also take a minute to state that Patrick CRUSHES sounding just like Elton John while he serenades us with Elton’s verses on “Save Rock and Roll.” As the song ends, Pete jumps up onto the piano, and pulls up a black curtain, and he “disappears.” Then the band breaks into a cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” and my wheels are turning. Where did Pete go? Ozzy had that weird bat fiasco back in the day; Pete disappeared like a bat; he has that bat tattoo – his old brand Clandestine Industries; all of this has to mean something. I’m connecting the dots. I see a Pete lookalike on the stage above the evil tree. And yet, somehow, Pete is now playing live from the front of house. What an entertainer!
As we cruise through this show, the guys make a reference to “Favorite Record,” and here we are – a live debut of this hit from the American Beauty/American Psycho days – a treat to witness as the guys confess that they’ve never played it live, so it was the best they’d ever played it.
There’s more heat and pyro, of course. We’re hit with the anthem “THNKS FR TH MMRS,” one of my faves since, well, that’s what’s tattooed on my arm. And at the very end, an all-time classic, we hear “Saturday,” another favorite of mine. I love when they close their shows with this. Pete gets to scream like he used to when they first began. He makes his way into the pit to crowd surf a little, and then it rains confetti. There’s so much confetti. You can barely see the stage with all the smoke and black and white confetti. It’s a beautiful way to end a beautiful night. Collectively, we as an entire audience have somehow lost our voices screaming along to all of the songs, old and new.
And just like that, it’s time to slowly inch our way from our seats to the hellaciously packed parking lots to sit in traffic. I sat in my parked car for close to an hour before being able to whip my Jeep into a moving line of traffic. On this night specifically, I was making my way to DJ an emo night, so I was ready to continue the angst, and this was helping to fuel my rage.
Until next time, Fall Out Boy. THNKS FR TH MMRS.
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