Fall Out Boy, Paramore, New Politics
Walnut Creek Amphitheatre
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
January 18, 2007: The night before my 15th birthday, I stood in the cold in a hand-painted T-shirt with two older cousins, waiting for the doors to Raleigh’s Disco Rodeo to open for my first-ever club show. It was the "Friends or Enemies Tour," featuring Permanent Me, The Early November, New Found Glory and, of course, my personal favorite, Fall Out Boy. Much of my world revolved around Fall Out Boy for a rather intense period of time, and they were touring in anticipation of the forthcoming Infinity on High.
Photo by Brian Howe
Seven-year-old skeletons emerge from the back of the closet in the form of ugly handmade band merch
The second track on that record, “’The Take Over, The Break’s Over’,”
sports the bridge "Don’t pretend you ever forgot about me.” Despite my efforts to do just that, I couldn’t teach myself to forget Fall Out Boy. Fast forward seven years, and I’m a much happier, self-assured college graduate, with a gig that involves getting paid to write about music. Gone are the days of purchasing clothing from Pete Wentz’s Clandestine line, memorizing the band’s catalog and obsessing over every move they made. Still, when the opportunity arose to go see Fall Out Boy and Paramore’s Monumentour, I jumped.
The opening set Tuesday nigh's show, from the baffling Danish three-piece New Politics, was a mercifully short half-hour, with co-headliner Paramore taking the stage next. Even in my heyday of Fueled By Ramen
fever, Paramore never quite caught my attention. My mistake. Given news of the band’s line-up shuffles
, it wasn’t surprising to see the stage set up like it was The Hayley Williams Show. Three of her five band members stood on a high riser at the back of the stage, keeping them mostly out of view.
Indeed, Williams owned every second of the set. She has all the trappings of a bona fide pop star—the energy, the charm, the vocal chops. But Paramore’s music trends more toward “proper” pop-punk. She commanded the enormous stage and massive crowd as well as any arena rocker, running and bouncing all over the place as lights flashed and disco balls sparkled. Williams interspersed messages of positivity through the songs, encouraging the audience (which, let’s be real, included a lot of teenage girls) to keep going even when it got rough. Williams might not be your image of a riot grrrl, but she’s an intense, even inspirational figure in her own right.
—was Fall Out Boy. I quit the band cold turkey shortly before the release of its 2009 record Folie a Deux
, looking for something that felt a bit less forced (I fell head-over-heels for folk music shortly thereafter). I never listened to that record, or the more recent Save Rock and Roll—
a little out of bitterness, a little out of stubbornness. Indeed, I pretty much quit that “scene” entirely. Fall Out Boy pulled heavily (alas!) from these later records, and their ambition to save rock ‘n’ roll was clear: the show was a proper rock spectacle. There were shooting flames, enormous rotating screens, fireworks—these grand, sweeping gestures fit well with the band’s shift towards straight-up pop rock
At one point, Patrick Stump took a seat at a grand piano, where he led the outfit in the first verse of Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” Throughout the set, Stump seemed to pull typical rock ‘n’ roller gestures (the big over-the-head-clap, diva hands) as often as he strummed his guitar, which wasn't the Gibson SG I fondly remembered. One odd moment came during the drum “battle” between Stump and drummer Andy Hurley to some piped-in music. Hurley’s a monster of a drummer with a long pedigree in hardcore, so it didn't seem so fair or fitting to pit him against his bandmate.
I didn’t hear all my favorite FOB songs, but I still got a few. The notes of tunes like “A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More 'Touch Me'”
and “Grand Theft Autumn (Where is Your Boy)”
will probably be tattooed into my brain forever. Fall Out Boy ended the night with “Saturday,”
just like they did that night in January when I was about to turn 15.
I’ve changed a lot in seven years, and so has Fall Out Boy, but there are still a few things that come full circle and stay the same. Maybe it wasn’t everything, but it was enough.