Fall Out Boy Rip Through Their Catalogue of Anthems at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center
Sometimes it’s fun to take a step back and chart an artist’s career trajectory. That cursory career overview offers tremendous insight into musicians and their pension for reinvention. That’s especially true for Fall Out Boy, a group that started as a pop punk outlet for a couple of Chicago punkers enthralled in the hardcore scene. It began as a side project; these days it’s anything but.
It doesn’t take much to trace Fall Out Boy’s career path at all. Just take a look at the crowds that flocked to their shows back in 2004 — mostly emo kids and teens pretending to be on the cutting edge of punk rock. Compare that to the crowd that packed Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Oct. 28, and you’ll see some of the old guard all grown up, but you’ll also see fresh faced teens who were probably busy finger painting or watching “Arthur” reruns when “From Under the Cork Tree” first blew fans away in 2005.
If anyone needs more proof of Fall Out Boy’s meteoric ascent to mainstream juggernauts, take note of the openers for the “Mania Tour,” which is in support of the album of the same name originally scheduled for a September release before getting pushed back to January 2018. Back in the old days, you might catch some obscure emo act trying to whip fans into a fervor with a bunch of unknown tunes full of even lesser known lyrics. These days, Fall Out Boy have connections that run just a little deeper, tapping Jaden Smith and blackbear to kick things off right. Smith’s set bubbled with the energy you’d expect, but his banter in between songs lacked the kind of headliner presence one would expect at an arena like the Barclays. Still, he managed to keep the atmosphere steady and even obscured himself in complete darkness at one point. Blackbear followed Smith with a strong set full of sharp lyrics and great lighting.
But it was those four boys from Illinois who had the crowd in the palm of their hand from the moment they rose from under the stage like phoenixes, a show of theatrics that led into the opening number of “Phoenix” off “Save Rock and Roll.” That clever bit of imagery isn’t lost on Fall Out Boy die-hards, with the 2013 album serving as a rebirth of sorts for the group after a middling fourth album and subsequent hiatus in 2009.
The band tore through 21 songs over 90 minutes, sprinting through a setlist that ran the Fall Out Boy spectrum, from the anthemic “Grand Theft Autumn/ Where is Your Boy” off their 2003 debut “Take This to Your Grave” to four cuts from January’s eagerly awaited “Mania.” Of course, it was the more well-known cuts like the irresistible “Sugar, We’re Goin Down,” the up-tempo melancholy of “Dance dance” and the sinister build of their most popular “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race” that really had the Barclays Center rocking. Couple that with confetti and pyrotechnics galore, and it’s clear Fall Out Boy have mastered the metamorphosis from crusty pop-punkers to bona fide showmen.
Lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Patrick Stump found himself in rare form all evening, with one exception during “Save Rock and Roll,” where he found himself trying to imitate Elton John’s iconic vocals on the track. It didn’t go terribly, but it wasn’t a homer either, and the Fall Out Boy community have come to expect only the best from the band’s fearless leader and composer. Otherwise, Stump really was the star of the evening, making even the most elaborate theatrics look easy.
The sonics were stellar all night, and although the visuals were a step or two behind, they were still stunning in their own way. Two additional elevated stages made it easier for fans in the nosebleeds to watch the crew do their thing, and T-shirts rained down thanks to little parachutes. A giant video screen also projected images all night, with an homage to Tom Petty coming in clear midway through the night, although looking around the crowd it’s hard to tell if anyone in attendance understood the late icon’s significance. There was certainly something for everyone at this shindig, a soiree that climaxed with the group’s closing sprint of “Uma Thurman,” “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up) and “Saturday,” a cut that ended things with the hugest of throwbacks. As the fans tiredly fled the Barclays Center, the electricity in the air was still palpable, and it was clear Fall Out Boy have mastered the art of the arena performance.