By: Sophie Francis
Even walking around the venue (The Spectrum Center, home to Charlotte’s own Hornets and the biggest shows in the Queen City), I could tell that this was a Fall Out Boy concert. Brightly colored hair poked out above Fall Out Boy t-shirts reaching back to 2001, the year the four-man pop punk band started making music. That being said, the lines were filled with fans, ranging from those who were there from the start of the band to those that grew up with FOB playing in their house (I proudly identify with the latter). With 16 years in the industry, lead singer and guitarist Patrick Stump, bassist and front man Pete Wentz, lead guitarist Joe Trohman, and drummer Andy Hurley are no stranger to touring. When released (January 18, 2018), Mania will be Fall Out Boy’s seventh studio album (with 13 others, including live recordings, greatest hits compilations, and remixes), and will likely be their sixth consecutive top 10 album. I grew up on Fall Out Boy; I knew the words to Thnks fr th Mmrs (Infinity on High, 2007) before I had an IPod to listen to music on, so I’m sure you can imagine my excitement walking into the building.
The show opened with Jaden Smith, yes, that Jaden Smith. I had never heard his music before, but I had high expectations, and rightly so, considering his parents’ legacy. He started with Batman, and I can’t say I was all too impressed. The best part of his set was probably the video behind him; it was shot beautifully. He went through 3 or 4 songs, and left the stage with spotted applause. Next was Blackbear (stylized blackbear), 27 year old Matthew Musto from Daytona Beach. Musto provides a new spin on the hip-hop scene, remixing smooth beats and both singing and rapping over them. Blackbear opened with Idfc, complete with getting the entire crowd to throw up their middle fingers. His already first-rate set was completely electrified when Musto started shredding an acoustic guitar, something of a fable in the music industry. I was completely taken aback, and by the end blackbear had the whole crowd on their feet.
The energy in the room was palpable. Parents and kids alike were jittering with excitement as crew members prepared the simple set: three mic stands and a drum set in the back center on a platform. The lights went out, and everyone was dead silent. The adrenaline inducing intro to The Phoenix (Save Rock and Roll) blasted through the speakers and everyone went insane. The bass pumped through the stadium as everyone screamed the words to the timeless classic. Fall Out Boy proceeded to playthrough some of their best songs throughout the years, including Sugar, We’re Goin Down (From Under the Cork Tree) and Save Rock and Roll (title track, my personal favorite). As the last chord of the latter faded out, the staccato notes of The Last of the Real Ones pierced the silence. Being the first song off of Mania that they played, everyone was curious to see how they would perform it live, and it was just as it is on the recording. It was Young & Menace that got interesting. As the last notes of The Last of the Real Ones Faded out, the lights when black. When they returned, Hurley and Trohman were nowhere to be found, and Wentz was off in the shadows. Stump launched into an unreleased acoustic version of the song on the piano, with minimal bass support from Wentz. Phone flashlights went up, and as everyone picked up on the cadence, the audience was a single voice.
After the Young & Menace remix, Kendrick Lamar’s Humble came through the speakers, confusing everyone in attendance. It was then that we discovered where Trohman and Hurley had gotten off to, but we heard them before we saw them. A platform began to rise from the ground, the guitarist and drummer in tow. Hurley was absolutely destroying his drums, keeping up with the remixed rap songs in ways I have never heard before, and he was quickly joined by Trohman. Not much later, Wentz and Stump were on a different platform, also being raised a good 30 feet in the air. From here they performed Dance, Dance (From Under the Cork Tree) and Thnks fr th Mmrs (Infinity on High), easily two of their most well-known songs. As they came down, Wentz attacked Stump with a hug, sending the crowd into a frenzy and serving as a beautiful homage to the duo’s long-time friendship.
The main show finished with Champion, the third and final single released from Mania, as the band had their final waves and walked off stage, the crowd wasn’t finished, and neither were they. After two straight minutes of cheering (I’m not even exaggerating, it was ridiculous), they came back out with three more of their most upbeat songs. As the last chords of Saturday transitioned out, the band gave final waves and bows and turned their backs on the legions of screaming fans in the Queen City.
Overall, the Mania (stylized M A N I A) tour was electrifying, although the pyrotechnics were minimal (as compared to other concerts of that size I’ve been to in the past), the music hardly needed it. Fall Out Boy pioneered the pop punk genre in 2001, and it is refreshing to see them keeping up that reputation 16 years later. If you get the chance, I would highly suggest getting out the see the tour, but tickets are going fast. It’s an experience you don’t want to miss.