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FOB’s Mania Tour: Sneak Me a Wristband

I’ve been waiting for years to see this hazy purple stage. Everyone in the room can feel the hip-hop energy infused into the stadium. Along with actor/rapper/Hollywood legacy Jaden Smith and R&B rapper Blackbear, Fall Out Boy is about to present quite an eclectic show. I’ve been a die-hard fan of the band since the Save Rock and Roll era, and even I didn’t see this lineup coming. Perhaps the band is proving that they belong in an alternative section of the alternative scene, where pop-punk and rap come together in perfect harmony. This mashup of genres is indescribable, but I’ll try my best.

Unfortunately, I missed Jaden Smith’s set, but I made it in time for Blackbear’s performance under his Mania-purple snake logo. He sang through some of his biggest hits, including “Chateau”, “Idfc”, “I Miss the Old U”, and the spirited, aggressive breakup anthem “Do Re Mi”. Sadly, I could hardly hear Blackbear’s real voice through the auto-tune filter on his mic. The guy can pull off interesting beats, he can write some witty lyrics, and he’s an energetic performer, but I don’t really know if he can sing. His saxophonist probably had the strongest presence on that stage, jumping around during his solos and constantly running up and down platforms. After ten or twelve songs, Blackbear went “ghost.” (If you didn’t get that reference, go listen to the end of “Do Re Mi”)

In anticipation of the headlining act, I was nearly hyperventilating. After watching countless interviews and listening to all of their albums on repeat, I was about to see my favorite band perform live. And suddenly, before I can fully prepare myself, I see them rising out of glowing purple trapdoors- drummer Andy Hurley, lead guitarist Joe Trohman, and then the front-men, for lack of a better word; Pete Wentz, the man who built armor for car-crash hearts and penned ballads for the Youngbloods, and singer/guitarist Patrick Stump, the most soulful punk on his side of Lake Michigan. A rush of feedback crackles over the speakers, a few bursts of pyro explode upstage, and the show begins.

Patrick’s rallying cry, “Put on your war paint,” soars over Andy’s steady beats on the opening track, “The Phoenix.” Then, they launch into “Irresistible,” a hit that (I promise) sounds even bigger in an arena. Afterwards, they reward the audience with a fan-favorite off of 2007’s Infinity On High, “Hum Hallelujah,” complete with confetti during the last chorus. Pete introduces the next song, “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” with a backstory- “In that movie that Ryan Gosling was in, called ‘Drive’, where he says, ‘For the next five minutes, I’m going to take care of you, no matter what happens’…I feel like, for the next hour and a half, you guys are f##king ours.” The audience roars during the first chords, and screams the opening lines over another pop of confetti. Columns of flame shoot like sparklers as the song winds down. The band performs “Alone Together”, “Immortals” accompanied by visuals from Big Hero 6, and then the hard-hitting title track of their last LP, American Beauty/American Psycho.

Next comes the fist-pumping mega-hit Centuries with bursts of fire and smoke, and footage of football stars is cut together with volcanic eruptions in the background. At this point, in true FOB fashion, Pete invites a fan to film the next song, “Save Rock and Roll” from backstage. Patrick hits every emotive note with power and his signature rolling vibrato, as the rest of the band screams into backup mics for the final refrain. As Patrick sprints back to the piano, Pete takes the opportunity to describe a new love song, “The Last of the Real Ones”. He tells the crowd that each of us can find someone “whose flaws meet up with your flaws.” Then, Patrick belts out a show-stopping, stripped version of the band’s controversial comeback song, “Young and Menace” under a purple spotlight.

Suddenly, the focus shifts to Andy, sitting on a B-stage and tapping it out to a medley of hip-hop hits by Kendrick Lamar and Lil Uzi Vert. This drum solo gives the band time to move onto suspended platforms above the audience, from which they perform the bass-driven “Dance, Dance” and the then-unreleased single “Wilson”. Despite the fact that none of us had heard it, everyone was singing along by the end. FOB literally wins over the crowd, playing brand new songs while suspended fifty feet above us. They bang out the pop-punk masterpiece “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” before returning to the A-stage. During this short break, the Mania llamas emerge and shoot T-shirts out of canons.

As Joe busts out the riff of “I Don’t Care”, the screen behind him is a montage of middle fingers. FOB has always been famous (or infamous) for their goofy music videos, and I guess they still don’t take themselves too seriously. Under red, action-movie-esque lasers, the band begins “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race”, the unlikely radio hit from their era of ten-word titles. Patrick leads the sing-along bridge, urging us on as the audience takes over. When the song ends, the band plays a short instrumental that none of us recognize. Then, we sing along to the a-capella intro of “Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy”, FOB’s first-ever mainstream single. Trust me, the band still has some raw punk rebellion pulsing through their system.

Before the next song, “Champion”, Pete speaks about the band’s efforts to be a force of positivity in our tumultuous times- “This song is about when you turn on your computer, your TV…and it seems like there’s not much to look hopeful for. And we thought about how that’s not the case. Sometimes those things just are not getting the attention. So we wanted to come to every city… and find somebody who was doing good, and try to give them some attention.” At every venue, FOB selected a fan-nominated Champion of the Mania Tour, met them, and donated to their charity via the Fall Out Boy Fund.

Pete also addressed the delayed Mania album- “In general, it’s really cool that we can have like a flying stage and big pyro and all that s##t, but none of that really matters without the heart of the whole thing. And that’s why we decided to push our record back three months… because we wanted to play songs for you guys that we really believed in…Thank you for being patient.” They do one more song, “Uma Thurman,” with scenes from Uma’s movie Pulp Fiction in the background, before taking a picture for their social media and retreating backstage.

But the show isn’t over yet. The band returns with a forceful encore of “Light ‘Em Up” with explosions in all the right places. They close the set like they always do, with 2003’s “Saturday. This oldie features Pete’s hardcore screaming over the final chorus, and somehow it never actually gets old. They say good night, and suddenly, it’s over. Everything in my life will go back to normal, and yet I will never be the same. Fall Out Boy’s music is personal. It makes you feel a lot more understood and a little bit less alone, which is why it sounds great blaring from your cheap headphones at home. But now I know from experience that it’s also theatrical and fun enough to fill a stadium.

The band knows how to pull out all the stops of a spectacle- moving platforms, mood lighting, lasers, and electrifying pyrotechnics, without taking the focus off of what really matters, their music. Andy is still a dynamic drummer who can keep up with Joe’s fast-paced, melodic guitar. Patrick’s vast vocal range is only getting bigger, and Pete is still delivering the inspiring speeches that made his band relatable a decade ago. The Fall Out Boys are back and better than ever. Catch them on the next leg of the Mania Tour. And while you’re at it, sneak me a wristband, because I’d love to experience this show again. They’ll be hitting Australia and Europe, and then returning to the US-

Tour Dates- https://falloutboy.com/tour

You can get tickets here-

https://www.ticketmaster.com/Fall-Out-Boy-tickets/artist/854398

You can watch the show that inspired this article here-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfEq5lS3FWs

And listen to their new album, Mania, out now-

Apple Music- https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/m-a-n-i-a/1229821606

Spotify- https://open.spotify.com/album/0EXuEIWBG8U9iBK8LsLgRi