Fall Out Boy Unleashes Mania Upon the Queen City
Mania Tour shook CLT
Words by: Jessie Harris | Photos by: Ricky Thigpen
The crowd in Uptown Charlotte on Friday night was huge, with people gathering all around the Spectrum Center in anticipation for Fall Out Boy’s Mania Tour. Upon entering the arena, the stage was set in a T shape, with the platform spanning most of the ground floor. A third of the arena was blocked off, and though the night was not quite a sell out, the room began to quickly fill around 7 o’clock.
Opening for the band was Jaden Smith, son of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, of Hollywood acting fame. He brought his rap set to Charlotte with an aggressive stage performance, reminiscent of Kanye and even Kendrick Lamar at some points, but with his own personal flair, of course. Set to the backdrop of some of his most famous music videos, (see “Batman” and “Watch Me.”) Smith commanded the audience’s attention. Though he is a mere 19, he looked as if he had been performing most of his life… which he has. Beginning his acting career at age 4 and his rap career at age 14, Smith is a natural when it comes to stage presence and even the most skeptic of critics can find something amusing about what he brings to the night.
Just before Fall Out Boy took the stage, Blackbear momentarily took the lead and brought his crazy musical experience to the eager Queen City audience. As a singer songwriter and musical producer, Blackbear himself, Matthew Musto, presented the crowd with a mix of most every genre, to be honest. Witnessing him for the first time was interesting, but personally I think his band is what made the performance something to be remembered. The guys sported fun instruments like a tenor sax, keyboard, drums, and even a keytar at one point. I could listen to them groove out for a while. They brought a jazzy, funky feel to Musto’s hip hop lyrics, and with a huge fan base, as made evident by loud cheers, Blackbear had everyone in the room on their feet.
After the first two acts, everyone was ready to take a trip down FOB memory lane, while also getting a glimpse into the future mania they have yet to offer. Beginning their set with the upbeat “The Phoenix” off of their 5th studio album, “Save Rock And Roll”, the band came out with guns a-blazing, but more like fire and fireworks a-blazing. FOB’s 22 song set had a good mix of early singles off old albums and current songs off their new and unreleased record. Despite having a release date that has been pushed back a couple of times already, the new singles have been a hit with fans. Bassist and Lyricist, Pete Wentz, made sure to point out that the delay wasn’t due to anything besides simply wanting to make everyone’s new favorite record versus just a good record in the grand scheme of things.
The first part of the night included lots of fire and a lot of their most recent radio hits, including “Immortals” and “Centuries,” with a couple of older songs thrown in like “Hum Hallelujah” and 2004’s breakout hit “Sugar, We’re Going Down.” “Centuries” featured shocking images of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking his infamous bow of the knee during the National Anthem, as well as other revolutionary figures like Muhammad Ali. New singles, “Young and Menace” and “The Last of the Real Ones” went over well, with most of the crowd singing along to every word.
Towards the middle of the night, the band disappeared for a quick moment only to return suspended from two stages in the middle of the arena. With Wentz and Patrick Stump (vocals and guitar) on one stage and Andy Hurley (drums) and Joe Trohman (guitar) on the other, those not fortunate enough to be in the front row got a show that was nothing short of memorable. With the stages rising to almost two floors high and a killer drum solo by Hurley, this was easily the highlight of the night for me. Singing classics like “Thnks fr th Mmrs” and “Dance, Dance” the guys had the room in an uproar of excitement and happiness.
After a short video intermission, featuring weird talking llamas, the guys came back to end their set by giving a literal middle finger to society with their hit “I Don’t Care,” featuring a montage of celebrities and movie bits in which actors and viral YouTube stars shot the camera a stern middle finger gesture. It was pretty comical, but really kind of stressed the essence of who FOB is in that they’ve never really given a care as to what the music industry or critics had to say about them or their music.
The guys ended their long set with “Grand Theft Auto/Where Is Your Boy” and new hit “Champion.” FOB again made a moving political statement with another video tribute featuring Princess Diana and focusing on their steadfast lyrics, “If I can get through this, I can get through anything.”
To end the night, FOB came back with a three song encore, beginning with their mega hit “Uma Thurman” and highlighting her various movie roles over the years from Pulp Fiction to Kill Bill. That guitar riff was unreal live and coupled with a wild firework and pyro show, it was something I’ll keep in the back of my mind for a while. Smoothly transitioning into the appropriate “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark” and finally concluding with the uber nostalgic first song I ever heard by them, “Saturday,” the show ended perfectly.
Fall Out Boy is super surprising still to this day and what I took away most from this awesome experience is that this little Suburban band that humbly began playing house parties in Chicago, could still be the same good ole boys from 2001 today. They are still just four dudes playing their hearts out every night and sweating the words from the bottoms of their souls… but in an arena setting to hundreds of thousands of fans. It’s just so cool to see fame come to a band worthy of it and see dreams lived out to their fullest. That’s what making music is all about and has to be so surreal for them. Fall Out Boy has always made music with their fans in mind and will continue to do so despite any setbacks. They are set to release their new LP “Mania” in early 2018. Catch them on tour at one of their dates below.