Few bands have evolved and grown into their own skin the way Fall Out Boy has while reinventing themselves all the way. Despite seeing shows with longer set lists and more intimacy, they have never been more fine-tuned as a live act than they were on their 2015-16 tour. The DVD/BluRay contains the entire concert with staggering and astonishing visuals and a DTS 5.1 Surround mix that puts you in the thick of the action. During the opening number, "Sugar", the four members lock into a groove that never subsided. "The Phoenix" is furious while the crowd eats up "A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More "Touch Me"", "Dance, Dance", "Alone Together", "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race" and "Thnks fr th Mmrs". Each and every song shared in a push and pull with the audience. While many of these songs are obligations from the band to the fans, they are invigorating and reflective of their power as a live entity.
Touring in support of their number-one album American Beauty / American Psycho, the band showcased several of the songs throughout the show including "Irresistible", the Motley Crue influence title track (whose rhythm is hell on wheels in concert), the dance-floor inventiveness of "Uma Thurman" which featured a special guest spot by Whiz Khalifa and the lead single "Centuries". American Beauty / American Psycho was a surprise record no one was expecting and more importantly, it's a continuation of Save Rock and Roll. Fans should look upon it like a sister record much like U2's Zooropa, the follow-up to Achtung Baby made during a break on the Zoo TV tour in early 1993. The most surprising of the new numbers came from the band's acoustic set, done on the lawn, for "Immortals", which was featured in the Disney animated film Big Hero Six. Acoustic guitars (and a little bit of rain) showed the band flexing their musical muscles with an unexpected arrangement. Guitarist Joe Trohman's acoustic guitar threw shades of the blues over the crowd. Throughout the course of the entire show, Trohman's playing was on another level. His talent and expands with every record and tour and the DVD/BluRay is a testament to his mega talent.
The show features a good amount of the banter recorded that evening. Stump dedicated "Young Volcanoes" to "any kid seeing their first show". Stump saw Midnight Oil, Hothouse Flowers, Ziggy Marley and Paul Westerberg at the venue in August of 1993 and Pete Wentz reminisced about seeing Jimmy Buffet at the venue. The show had no missteps, only my selfish desire to want to see more. Their excellent American Beauty / American Psycho record was represented by five songs, all of them upbeat numbers, but the real heart of the record for me lies in the mid-tempo numbers, that reflect the heartbeat of the band. The whistle melancholy of "The Kids Aren't Alright" is one of the best songs they have ever recorded and "Favorite Record", a perfect pop song I hope to see live one day.
The BluRay/ DVD contains 17-songs in total and there are three bonus music videos; "Centuries", "Irresistible" and "Uma Thurman". The video is crisp without spastic edits occurring every few seconds, allowing you to take in the show as if you are there in person. The real highlight of the DVD/BluRay is the DTS surround track that is strong enough to be a demo disc for home entertainment purposes. The 5.1 and Stereo tracks are equally impressive.
Fall Out Boy is a band whose music, lyrics and performances captivate and that's something you can't argue with. They're innovators, because no one else sounds like them. You may not like it; you may not be moved by it, but you can't tear them down. They're continually seeking new and inventive ways to turn a song on its head and there is no greater example than "Uma Thurman" which is a minor miracle unto itself. Their ability to fuse a classic television theme song with a frantic and shuffling rhythm would have the music press singing their praises if they were any other band. After surrendering themselves to producer Butch Walker and the road a few years back, Fall Out Boy is a band reignited with a force I couldn't have imagined. It's easy to reunite, cash the check and play festivals. It's another thing to build a band from the ground up again which is exactly what they have done. Their gift, to take the template of a rock n' roll song (bass, drums, guitars and vocals) and blend it into something that sounds distinctively like Fall Out Boy. Like Rush before them, they create a sound that is wholly their own, yet they don't receive their dues. Their albums are an unapologetic and immaculate melting pot vessel for their dreams and desires.
I'd be remiss to not mention the encore performance of "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)" because the sheer adoration of the audience. Here is a song that does not sound like anything they have ever done before. Stump's vocals eschew sentimentality and are fueled by pure hellfire, which led into the evening's finale of "Saturday" from 2003's Take This To Your Grave, which found Wentz in the pit in front of the stage. Fall Out Boy is a band that matters because of the way they humanize themselves on the concert stage. Never once during any of the six performances I have seen since 2013 have I felt there was a single hollow moment as they continually pushing boundaries, capturing imaginations and also delivering knock out performances night-after-night. Their struggle spills out onstage each night through their music and if you saw the Boys of Zummer tour, you saw them at the peak of their powers.
The highlight of the show was a searing performance of Thriller from 2007's Infinity on High. The laser focus and two-fisted speed metal drumming of Andy Hurley was complimented by Joe Trohman's fist-punching stout guitar chords. Pete Wentz added to the bottom-end with his bass and pushed the crowd into a state of frenzy with some vintage stage leaps we all can only dream of while singer/guitarist Patrick Stump crooned soul in an open letter to their fans "I can take your problems away /With a nod and a wave". Watching the video, I find myself caught up in this flawless moment with the underlying theme of self-assurance and gratitude few could pull off with a straight face. It took me back to the first time I saw the band in 2007. I went into the venue with no expectations and I never realized how much I needed this music in my life until the music filled my veins with answers I had been seeking. Nine years later Fall Out Boy is still delivering an empathetic tour de force evening of music. The music is filled with resolve, written by fans for fans. They exhibit their dreams and desires and share them with, us, the listeners. No one will ever grasp how good Fall Out Boy are; how dexterous they are at their instruments, how altruistic they are on stage and how damn hard they work to craft their albums and concerts. If you aren't willing to feel this music, witness the reaction from 25,000 fans and feel alive, then I feel sorry for you. Every time I watch Fall Out Boy in concert, I feel like I'm in on a secret that few others are aware of; that they're one of the best damn bands working today and the The Boys of Zummer Tour: Live in Chicago DVD/BluRay is living proof. Get your copy here.
Anthony Kuzminski is a Chicago based writer and Special Features Editor for the antiMUSIC Network. His daily writings can be read at The Screen Door. He can be contacted at tonyk AT antiMUSIC DOT com and can be followed on Twitter
Fall Out Boy: The Boys of Zummer Tour: Live in Chicago