“So, I’ve got the feeling that this night might be the best night of some of your young lives,” Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz said to the audience May 30 at the band’s sold-out Electric Factory show.
Returning from a nearly four-year hiatus with their newest album, “Save Rock and Roll,” the pop-punk veterans played a mix of both old and new favorites with verve and excitement. However, even though the crowd of mostly diehard fans received them warmly, they had a clear message — they’re not the FOB you used to know.
Joined by alternative rock band New Politics, Fall Out Boy set out on a small-scale spring and summer club tour before the album-supporting “Save Rock and Roll” arena tour this fall. New Politics’ performance style was unconventional; lead vocalist David Boyd was breakdancing and headstanding while singing at the top of his lungs. Then again, every band member had a level of energy and enthusiasm that had the whole crowd fist-pumping and head-banging.
Although their set was surprisingly short, this went fairly unnoticed because the audience was getting more and more antsy for the long-awaited return of their beloved icons.
Finally, Fall Out Boy appeared behind a large white curtain, and as soon as it was lifted, the crowd turned into a madhouse. With the first few notes of “Thriller,” the opening track off their 2007 album “Infinity on High,” fans began pushing, shoving and dancing all while attempting to get closer to the front. By the end of the second song, the band had seen enough.
“We have an odd request,” Wentz began before asking the crowd to ease up by taking a few steps back for the sake of those in the front. Similar conditions during past shows on the tour had led to countless injuries among fans, and Wentz’s request was becoming a familiar one. When the crowd failed to comply, guitarist Joe Trohman interjected, demanding his fans to “back the f— up, please.”
Nevertheless, the energy in the packed-to-capacity Electric Factory remained. Instruments and vocals were often drowned out by the crowd’s own gusto. Every song had its lyrics sung back to the band, no matter how new. “The Phoenix,” the first track on Fall Out Boy’s new album, sent the crowd into a frenzy of passionate screams and dancing as frontman Patrick Stump sang the band’s new mantra of “put on your war paint” into the microphone with vigor and scenes from the song’s graphic music video played on the screens behind them. However, it was old hits like “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down,” “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race” and “Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy” that sent the crowd over the edge, moshing and dancing as though it were Warped Tour 2006.
A dramatic change from the arenas that the band used to sell out, the intimacy of the venue allowed the band to interact with the audience. The band members themselves had a goofy attitude with not only the crowd but also each other. A previously passive and shy Stump joked with Wentz onstage and performed with a self-confidence entirely unseen before, likely brought on by his new fit appearance and brief tour as a solo artist. Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley, members of the same heavy-metal band during Fall Out Boy’s hiatus, were as intense as ever. Then the kicker to the reunion was the apparent coordination of outfits with an emphasis on gray skinny jeans.
“Where are all my dudes at?” Wentz asked, receiving a low rumble from the Electric Factory’s surprising amount of male patronage. “It’s been a long while since we’ve written a song for the f—ing dudes. So this one’s for you.” He then dedicated the band’s latest single, “Young Volcanoes,” an acoustic guitar-driven tune almost overwhelmed by the crowd’s rhythmic clapping and chanting, to his dudes.
Upon leaving the stage after performing “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark,” the first song that the band released post-hiatus, the crowd’s continuous chants of “Fall Out Boy” faded into a chilling repetition of the song’s chorus. Saving the album’s namesake track for the encore that followed, “Save Rock and Roll” was performed with Stump at piano, perfectly mimicking the part of the track’s guest vocalist, Elton John. The triple-split screen behind the band displayed pictures of famous musicians as they performed, adding an extra layer of mysticism and nostalgia.
The night came to an end as Wentz jumped into the audience to scream the end of “Saturday,” a fan favorite that sent the audience into a pandemonium even stronger than it was when the band had first taken the stage. The song, however, was largely a wall of noise and fast-paced instrumentals, reflective of Fall Out Boy’s earlier years, further mottled by the audience’s own screaming.
“Music never leaves you alone, and punk rock will always be there when nothing else will,” Wentz reassured the audience before the band’s departure from the stage.
Fall Out Boy will return to Philadelphia Sept. 8 at the Liacouras Center, backed by the band’s old friends Panic At the Disco and Twenty One Pilots.
Additional reporting by Azwad Rahman