Fall Out Boy and Paramore put on a pop punk powerhouse show
"The mother f*cking break is over!"
If you happen to be a Fall Out Boy hater, that six-word proclamation – yelled by Fall Out Boy bassist and lead lyricist Pete Wentz shortly after the band's opening number "The Phoenix" – was more chilling and terrifying than a tornado siren. Then again, if you happen to be a Fall Out Boy hater, you were also likely nowhere near the Marcus Amphitheater Saturday night, where the pop / punk rockers teamed up with Paramore for the Milwaukee stop of their joint "Monumentour." It's too bad because the duo put on quite the show, a nearly four-hour burst of music that left the loud, almost full crowd happily exhausted.
The Chicago-based punk rock quartet – including Milwaukee native Andy Hurley on the drums – became the face of the emo pop punk movement back in the middle of the last decade with hits like "Sugar, We're Going Down" and "Dance, Dance." The band soon went from pop stars to pariahs, however, as being the most recognizable pop punk rockers also made them the easiest targets when the angst-ridden genre began losing its cool. Not helping matters were Fall Out Boy's – mainly Wentz's – apparent pretentions of rock grandeur.
In 2009, the band went on the aforementioned mother f*cking break, going their separate ways before coming back with a vengeance last year with a new album, "Save Rock and Roll" – a bold title that either demonstrates breathtaking obliviousness to one's detractors or quite impressive trolling abilities – featuring several new radio hits.
If your eyes rolled at Fall Out Boy's album title, the band's performance (complete with intense fiery theatrics – dramatically rising on stage like heroes after audio clips about living one's dreams or fears – TV screens blaring "Save rock and roll" and Wentz's odd downer of an inspirational speech, talking about "it gets better" is a myth and "the dream is dead" before getting to his happy conclusion) would likely provide only more ammo.
As a former FOB fan back in my young high school days – back when I knew even less than I know now – I'd be lying if I said I didn't walk into the show with a dubious eyebrow raised.
However, the raised eyebrow quickly turned into a raised voice and a raised, pumping fist. After the vigorous, fittingly pyro-happy opener "The Phoenix," Fall Out Boy blasted into rocking renditions of hits old and new with "The Take Over, the Breaks Over," "A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More 'Touch Me'" and "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race." Each Mountain Dew-fueled rock number had the crowd screaming and bellowing out the lyrics alongside lead singer Patrick Stump.
After the equally rollicking "Alone Together" – sans the fake distortion and static on the radio recording – and "Death Valley," Fall Out Boy reached "Sugar, We're Goin Down," which had both the 17-year-old and modern day versions of myself – along with the rest of the crowd – cheering and singing along wildly.
The rest of the set solidly kept that level of excitement and fervor going. A fun little drum battle/duet between Hurley and Stump – to the tune of Jay-Z soundbites – gave Wentz and guitarist Joe Trohman time to sneak into the middle of the crowd, where they performed "Dance, Dance" before heading back to the stage for "Young Volcanoes" and "Just One Yesterday" alongside guest singer Lolo.
The show was topped off by another round of hits old, new and Queen. A fairly brief, straight-forward cover of "We Are the Champions" bounced into "Save Rock and Roll," complete with guest cameo by terrifying grim reaper. Fall Out Boy closed out the night with "I Don't Care" and "My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light Em Up)," plus a two-song encore of "Thnks fr th Mmrs" and "Saturday."
Near the beginning of the show, in between complements, Wentz talked about and lamented the lack of guitars and punk rock on the radio. Yeah, Fall Out Boy may not be the saviors of rock and roll … but based on their performance Saturday night, they do actually rock.
They had to as well considering the exhaustingly enthusiastic and entertaining set fellow headliners Paramore put on just before them earlier in the evening. It was a fast and furious collection of songs, the kind of ecstatically energetic set that earned its several explosive shots of confetti and streamers.
Performing in front of a wall of lights, the band opened with the recent hit "Still Into You," led by lead singer Hayley Williams buoyantly hopping, punching, kicking and bounding across the stage, dressed like a short, teal-haired mix between a heavyweight boxer and Tank Girl.
Williams and company nicely kept the energy level high throughout the band's set of hits across their now 10-year existence (a fact certain to make the millenials in the crowd feel old), starting off with "That's What You Get," the punky thrashing "For a Pessimist, I'm Pretty Optimistic" and "Ignorance." Williams noted that they play and write fast songs, and other than a brief cell phone-lit ballad break for "The Only Exception," that's exactly what they did, much to the crowd's audible enjoyment.
The caffeinated up-tempo mix of tunes thankfully didn't keep Williams from being social, however. Throughout the show, the lead singer engaged in some charmingly casual chats with the crowd, asking for permission to do a slow song, doling out the usual cordial thank yous and Milwakee shoutouts and even getting a little candid before "Last Hope," talking briefly about the "massive roller coaster" the band had been on recently (mostly referencing the rocky departures of Zac and Josh Farro and the shakeup that ensued, leaving the once five-part core band now just at three).
The highlight, however, came during the shark-smiling pop punk headbanger hit "Misery Business," when Williams searched out a lucky fan to pull on stage, handed her a golden microphone and let her sing and rock out the song's bridge and final chorus – plus a selfie, because this is 2014 and everything must be selfie-ed. It could've been a mess, but Williams' charming on-stage charisma and everyone's shared excitement – as well as the fan's knowledge of the words (phew!) – made it a pretty great, almost heartwarming moment.
Paramore closed out their set with a crazed, high energy go-through of "Aint' It Fun," which brought the house down – and the night wasn't even half over yet. Between Paramore setting the stage on fire and Fall Out Boy keeping it that way (literally), even the most crotchety skeptic (hello!) could find himself won over.
Fans arriving early – or I suppose on time – were also treated to Danish punk rockers New Politics, who not only impressed with their solid tunes – including their hits "Tonight You're Perfect," "Harlem" and "Yeah Yeah Yeah" – but with lead singer David Boyd's slick b-boy skills. "Dance, Dance" indeed.
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