This Fall Out Boy show was HOT! Without taking anything away from the band or their performance, my description, in this case, is literal. The band relied on a bit of pyro. OK, a LOT of pyro! Fire shot up from the stage, sparks rained down from the ceiling, and flames even blasted out from the end of Pete Wentz’ bass guitar.
Fall Out Boy brought their “Mania” Tour to the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, TX on Sunday, September 25, 2018, and, other than the flames and a large video screen behind them, the stage was sparse. The amplifiers were hidden from view. Other than a runway jutting out to the other side of the arena, that was it. Did I mention there was a lot of pyro?
The back screen featured random video montages, everything from a pair of llamas playing a game of Fortnite during “Grand Theft Autumn/Where is Your Boy,” to scenes from the movie Big Hero 6 during “Immortals,” and to an amalgam of people, animals, and cartoon characters displaying the middle finger during “I Don’t Care.”
I describe this lack of cohesive stage visuals to emphasize that, all pyro aside, the show was not reliant on a fancy light show, complicated theme, or an overly impressive display. the explosions and fire were just punctuations. The emphasis was on Fall Out Boy’s music – and not in a technical, musical way. The songs were an expression of joy. This was a party and Fall Out Boy was providing the soundtrack.
Singer Patrick Stump, surely one of rock’s most unpretentious frontmen, was a focal point and his ebullient energy was way more interesting than any stage props could be. He was in fine voice, running around the stage and out onto the runway with an unlikely swagger and showmanship. Later, a grand piano appeared on the stage and he launched into a stripped-down solo version of “Young and Menace.” Here the audience was relatively quiet, allowing Stump’s soulful vocals to shine.
The hushed audience during this number was a sharp contrast to the rest of the evening. Overall, I was amazed at the crowd, primarily made up of young female fans. They sang all of the words. Yes, ALL of the words to ALL of the songs, head tossed back and at the top of their lungs. The smile on Stump’s face said all there was to say.
From the obvious hits like “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” to the newer songs like “Lake Effect Kid,” the guys played a relatively long 24 song set, with a career-spanning variety of tunes. Somehow, they were able to turn the somewhat cavernous Frank Erwin Center into something much more intimate. “I Don’t Care,” “Dance, Dance,” “Thnks fr th Mmrs” and a cinematic “Uma Thurman” provided plenty of opportunities for fans to dance and shake. “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race” was a particular highlight in fan participation.
That’s not to say there weren’t surprises (besides the aforementioned bass guitar flamethrower). At one point, drummer Andy Hurley magically appeared at the end of the runway and launched into a percussive hip-hop infused drum solo on a stage that slowly raised him into the air, giving fans on the second deck a straight-on view. He was soon joined by guitarist Joe Trohman, as Wentz and Stump emerged from the back of the stadium and stood on their own rising stage, which eventually took them face to face with fans on the third deck. Obviously, these guys do not suffer from vertigo. They ran through several numbers as dancing LED lights surrounding the base of the two stages created imagery recalling the random videos playing behind the band on the main stage.
FOB ended the show with “Centuries,” and encored with “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” and “Saturday,” leaving the audience drained but happy.
FALL OUT BOY PHOTO GALLERY
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Rapper Machine Gun Kelly seemed a strange choice as an opening act for Fall Out Boy. Everything about MGK’s set seemed an antithesis to the headliner’s. The stage setup, the music, and the attitude just didn’t seem to speak to an audience of mostly younger alt-rock Fall Out Boy fans.
That’s not to say his set was bad. Quite the opposite. He put on a dynamic and energetic show. And I think that the audience wanted to like him. It just seemed to be an awkward appreciation. But that did not stop the boy from trying.
With his name brightly illuminated behind him, his stage was flanked with backlit risers and often punctuated with smoke as he strutted and rapped through a set of upbeat rocking tracks backed by a live band consisting of drums, bass, guitar, and DJ. He frequently ran from one side of the stage to the other, jumping atop speakers and twirling his mic or hitting power chords on his guitar.
One of the set’s highlights sparking appreciation from the audience occurred when he leaped off of the stage and took a lap around the floor of the Frank Erwin Center, directly interacting with members of the audience. Removing his shirt towards the end of the set and displaying his tattoo-covered torso also elicited a strong vocal reaction.
A cover or Weezer’s “Say it Ain’t So” seemed out of place before seamlessly morphing into MGK’s own “Let You Go.” And there was an obvious squeal of recognition during his recent hit “Bad Things” with Camilla Cabello singing the chorus (prerecorded) – lifted from celebrated Austin band Fastball’s 1999 hit “Out of My Head.”
MACHINE GUN KELLY PHOTO GALLERY
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Just as Machine Gun Kelly was a stylistically odd choice, opener Nothing, Nowhere made it three for three on the musical diversity meter. The Massachusetts emo-rapper and his band were dark, both literally and melodically. At the start, the crowd seemed confused by the mysterious man with a mic, but as the set progressed, the crowd dialed in. There is something inherently interesting in this guy and I’m looking forward to exploring his work and his journey.