Fall Out Boy: Boys of Zummer Tour
There's nothing quite like a Saturday night in your hometown. If you are privileged enough to have 25,000 fans show up to see you perform, it's even better. Fall Out Boy returned to Chicago like reigning champions and their ardent fans accepted them with open arms this past weekend on the Boys of Zummer tour which also features sets from Wiz Khalifa, Hoodie Allen, and DJ Drama (with a little help from MAX). Khalifa's set was well received highlighted by "The Race" and the sing-a-long number-one single "See You Again" cued the crowd perfectly for a larger-than-life performance by Fall Out Boy. Right from Andy Hurley's double-kick drum opening of "Sugar We're Going Down", the band captured and elevated the crowd to a heightened status this writer doesn't see often- and I've seen U2, Michael Franti and the Rolling Stones in recent weeks. I've witnessed Fall Out Boy six times in the last 24-months from a club in Indianapolis, to Riot Fest to the 1,100 seat Metro to Tinley Park last summer to the Lincoln Hall album release earlier this year and back to the Tinley Park amphitheater. 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 are on this current trek. Playing to more than 25,000 fans exactly one year after their co-headline jaunt with Paramore, Fall Out Boy are wired like a band at the peak of their powers. During the opening number, "Sugar", the four locked into a groove that never subsided for 90 tight-and-tense minutes. "The Phoenix" was furiously performed while the crowd ate 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're every bit as invigorating as they have ever been.
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". On the latter, I watched a 9-year-old girl in front of me singing along to every last word as she thrust her arms forward delivering it with this same intensity as the band on stage. 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. Back in January the song was fully fleshed out and electric, but it was every bit as potent here on acoustic guitars and 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.
The Tinley Park venue holds a place in their hearts. Patrick 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. No matter the size of the hall, their fans have been amongst the best I've ever shared space with. They know these songs, they know this band and it makes the unwarranted noise of hatred dissipate into thin air, because the love outweighs the hate. 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've ever recorded and "Favorite Record", a perfect pop song I hope to see live one day.
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's a song that doesn't sound like anything they have ever done before and since its release more than two-years ago, who else has been able to mimic it? No one. 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 in the last two years 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 has been chronicled and is spilled out onstage each and every night through their music and if you catch then the Boys of Zummer tour, you will see 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". I found 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. Eight 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.
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: Boys of Zummer Tour
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