Friday, December 19, 2008

Fall Out Boy: Live From the Chicago Theatre

I tried so hard to get into the Fall Out Boy club show at Harper's Ferry in November, but orgo lab, a rainstorm, and a complete lack of parking in Allston left me soaking wet and unhappy with no music. As a consequence, I was very excited when Fuse decided to sponsor and broadcast their show at the Chicago theater.

The curtain rises on "Thks Fr Th Mmrs". I'd first like to point out how annoying of a title that is to type. I get the whole reference to a break up by text message, but wow. I had to look up how to misspell a title. Anyways, this is how I wish the whole show went. The band is playing. There are lights but no pyro, and the focus is on the music. Pete Wentz is channeling Ryan Ross's makeup, but it's okay. The band rocks the song, plays it well, and puts enough energy into it that I wish I was there.

Next is "Thriller." It keeps up the same high powered energy. It's good. Really good. Also, I've always really loved the line "fix me in 45," because I spent a lot of the summer between high school and college being unhappy and angry. But I'd get in my car, put in Infinity on High and let FOB entirely change my mood back into something alright. It's a highly self aware lyric.

Next is "I Don't Care," and a part of me feels like this should have been the first song, or that it might have been in the live show. A white curtain pulls up, the band name is in huge letters at the back of the stage, it's a high powered song... it just feels like a show opener. Also, I feel like this would have been the smart song to open up with. It's almost as big as "Thks Fr Th Mmrs" and is their current single, the one on everyone's minds. Now here they've added pyrotechnics and strobe light guitars, and really, I don't like it so much. I don't hate it, but it's a little distracting. But again, they throw so much energy into the song that it's really hard to be unhappy.

"I'm Like a Lawyer With The Way I'm Always Trying to Get You Off" is next. Another title that would be really obnoxious to write over and over again (which is, I assume, why they marketed it as "Me and You" when it was a single). Pete starts it off with a little intro about how everyone eventually falls in love, and it made me realize how much of the in between song chatter they must have cut out of this. I love the little snippets of conversation or throw outs to the crowd that come in between songs - it's part of the live experience. Either Fuse has cut out almost all of it, or Fall out Boy doesn't talk on stage, which I can't believe is true. There had to have been some kind of "How are you feeling tonight?" or some kind of verbal interaction between band members during the set, but it's missing, and it's absence it noticed. The end of the song is a little awkward, because there were obviously parts that they let the crowd sing, but that have been muted out because editors for some reason feel like the only thing you should hear the crowd do is cheer.

"This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race." There are some strangely placed pyrotechnics. And the sound editors (mixers?) have gone overboard with Joe and Pete. They pretty much mute out all of Pete's screaming and they change their voices a lot. Let's be real - Pete and Joe are awesome with their instrumental chords, but not so much with their vocal chords. Yet we still love to hear them scream it out in their own voice, not a mutated voice that the producers feel is more melodic.

Patrick just screamed something that sounded like "sing it out" in a very Pete-like scream, and it confused me. It wasn't bad, just unexpected.

And here come the bear dancers. Yeah. Bear dancers. The song is "Headfirst Slide into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet," and I feel like it might be a good song, but I can't pay attention to it because there are dancers dressed up like bears. They're acting out some scene of heartbreak. I think. It's done in a weird combination of modern and lyrical and cheerleading. I just don't know. But unlike the pyrotechnics, which I'll put up with, I hate this. It's distracting and it really takes away from the music. I go to concerts (or watch them on TV...) for the music. I want to see the band, not a stage act. I'm disappointed in whoever decided this was a good idea, because it wasn't.

"Americas Suitehearts." Pete thanks Fuse, and of course they air that. I really enjoy the song. The chorus is heavy on the guitars and the noise, but in a controlled and measured way. It's also nicely balanced out by the quieter verses. They release some confetti (multi colored and people shaped) and I've always felt confetti should really be an end of show thing, but it's alright because of one shot that they get of Pete. It's framed with just his face at the very right of the frame, smiling quietly with the garish purple streak of makeup running over his eye. The rest of the frame is black with red, green, and blue falling confetti, and it's perfect. It's a quick shot, but it's the kind of clip that for a small second lets you in on how it must feel to be up on the stage and caught up in the music.

"Sugar We're Going Down." This time, they let the crowd singing at the beginning take over the sound and it's perfect. Again they turn down Pete's screaming and show a lot of badly dancing scene kids. Also, the strobe lights are crazy enough to make me fear for any epileptics in the crowd.

"Dance Dance." I'm a sucker for strong bass lines. There's a shot in here that I love, on the last "I only want sympathy." The camera is moving forwards through the crowd towards the stage on level with everyone's heads, as though you're actually walking forwards through the crowd. You can see the entire stage, and these two pyrotechnics displays are waving back and forth behind the band. It's a nice shot that sends you into the crowd and splits the screen between the normal kids of the crowd and the rock star quality on the band members. Love it.

The last song is "Saturday," which was the first Fall Out Boy video I found on my own. I'd seen Sugar and Dance, Dance, but this was the one that I searched out because I was interested in the band. I loved it because it held both a story line and the rough scenes of playing in some little basement. They perform it well, but the fans go stupid and start getting up on stage and being obnoxious and distracting. One girl at the end who is particularly obnoxious and hangs off of Patrick's neck does an awesome stage dive. Except she gets what's coming to her, because when you dive that hard into a crowd of small, screaming, preteen girls, they're not going to catch you. She dives straight into the floor. On another note, Pete's screaming is great, and I love how the hardcore screamo part of him still gets to come out and play sometimes. However it looks like he tries to actually sing at some points and the sound engineers totally mute him out. Hah.

And then, with a big flourish of drums, it's over. It wasn't a bad hour of TV, but I feel like it could have been better. I'm not sure how much of it to blame on the band and how much to blame on whoever pieced together the footage. However I can say that whoever did edit this has very obviously never been to a scene show, and doesn't know what it should feel like to be there.

I'll do better.

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