Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Believers Never Die

Believers Never Die Tour Part Deux - Tsongas Arena in Lowell

So in the ridiculous style of schizophrenic Massachusetts weather, yesterday was 94 degrees in Lowell at 3pm. This would be the time that my band of merry concert goers and I decided to show up at the Tsongas Arena to see Fall Out Boy's latest tour. In a moment of brilliance (they don't happen often) I spent ten dollars and purchased a styrofoam cooler, ice, and 60 freeze pops. So the six of us were cool and less thirsty than those around us (though we were nice enough to give a bunch of freeze pops to random people in the line that looked hot) which turned out to be an important part of the night.

After getting into the arena a little after five, we made the decision to sit in the seats, stage left, rather than go down in the pit. We were hot, and it was warm inside, and we decided that having the ability to get up and get drinks and not be crushed by hundreds of people was a valuable thing. We made the right decision.

Hey Monday was up first. As I've mentioned before, I'm not hugely impressed by them. Cassadee has a good voice, and they're not bad, but there's not much that I feel distinguishes them from every other scene band out there at the moment.

This was the point when we realized that not being in the crowd was a good thing. Because after only about an hour of being in the arena, people in the crowd were passing out from the heat. Security guards were pulling them out one right after the other, a stream of overheated scenesters and preteen girls. Someone in security had the awesome idea of trying to get the kids water - at first they were squirting water into their mouths like baby birds in a nest, but then resorted to just trying to douse them with water that they were throwing on the crowd. It seemed to help a little, but people were getting physically ill.

Metro Station was next. The first time I saw them on the RRRGLT with Cobra Starship in January of 2008, I loved their music. It was good, it had a great dance beat, and it was fun. They were just starting to get big, and focused on their playing. I have a clip from that night of Trace Cyrus thanking some girl in the crowd for baking them cookies. I went out and bought the CD, as well as tickets to the show they were going to play at the Palladium that May. However when that show happened, I was sorely disappointed: they were a completely different band. They spent the night singing to their girlfriends off stage rather than the fans in front of them. They weren't as pulled together as they had been in January. I was hoping that they would redeem themselves last night. They didn't. Now, Blake and Anthony were great. Anthony is awesome to watch while he's drumming, and he looks like he's having fun. Blake is focused on the synth and keys. But Mason and Trace need to forget that they're "rockstars". Mason was wearing sunglasses. Inside. On stage. And Trace was more focused on stripping off his shirt than he was playing the guitar. Sure, part of rock and roll is the sex appeal, but you need to actually play some music. Also, spinning the guitar over your neck once is cool. Doing it upwards of five times in one set is not. Same goes for throwing the guitar to the tech when you could just as easily have handed it to him. I like their music, but Metro Station is just not enjoyable to see live anymore. Stop being rockstars, star being musicians again.

Next, after more passed out girls being pulled from the crowd, was All Time Low. I don't know any of their songs, and have never been able to listen to one all the way through. I will admit to having some kind of irrational aversion to their music. But I was totally prepared to give them a second chance last night, and was ready to hear them play. I was excited when I saw the appearance of a hot pink bass and bright green guitar! But wow did they fail to win me over. A few minutes into their set, bras started appearing on stage. Apparently this happens a lot, as one of the techs proceeded to come out on stage and hang them all from the guitarist's mic stand. But then, they proceeded to encourage the girls to start throwing them on stage. Which just ticked me off. Especially when they got their wish, and about 50-75 bras ended up on the stage, on mic stands and monitors. Now, I decided that there are probably two kinds of girls who would do this: sluts, and impressionable young teenage girls. The sluts can have their fun, whatever, but that leaves a whole bunch of other girls who are just doing what the guys on stage are telling them to do. And that is sad. There is no reason to be telling these girls that this is okay. Because really, what does throwing your bra on stage get you? Nothing. They're probably all just thrown away at the end of the night, and hell, bras are expensive! But I was going to look past this. Because they were making me dance, and it was fun, and it was all okay. But then came the crack about some members of Boys Like Girls being at the show, and how the crowd should really ply them with blow jobs because there's "nothing like oral sex to help the song writing process" (that is a loose quote, as I have no footage to prove them saying the words in that exact order, but believe me when I say I don't think anyone in the crowd, or the band, would deny that they had been said). Now really, I'm not a huge feminist. I went through that stage when I was fourteen but it's long gone now. And yet that comment just turned me off to the band entirely. Because they know who they're playing for, they can see the fourteen year-olds with their eyeliner and tutus, and they can't not know that these girls aren't old enough yet to separate joking about oral sex from thinking it's okay. There's a right way to do the sexy, dirty stage act to that crowd, and then there's a wrong way. All Time Low was the wrong way.

But Cobra Starship was the right way. Full disclosure, Cobra Starship is my second favorite band, losing the top slot to Weezer. Yes, I own a purple hoodie. Yes, I have seen them four times. I have an autographed copy of their AP cover from the Warped Tour signing. But that is because they are awesome. Gabe Saporta knows exactly what we want, and hands it to us with a smile and a pie in the face. He commented last night that they're only able to do what they do because of the fans, who "get the fucking joke." Because really, Gabe Saporta has laid out his plans for everyone, if only you listen. He's laughing at us and with us through it all. From "Being From Jersey Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry" : "success has it's price, but can you hear me know that I'm dumbing myself down... I won't forget from where I came, but it's time to take over." Gabe has taken the entire band and has made it a mirror on the scene, from too long song titles to neon sneakers. They overdo the 80s stage sets and the keytars in response to the 80s love that the scene has clutched onto. Their songs are making fun of the "party queens" and the "girls with brooklyn haircuts," but we love them for it. This is not to say that I don't think that they love doing what they're doing. I honestly feel that this has all given Gabe and his crew the power to be doing exactly what they want to be doing. Somebody needed to be there laughing with us, and that's Cobra Starship. I absolutely love it. As for last night, they were great. Gabe's voice is maybe a little less far reaching than it used to be, due to surgery on his vocal chords back in January, but it doesn't make them any less awesome. If you haven't gotten it by now, I'm all about the live experience, how a band makes you feel when you're watching them perform, and Cobra is absolutely the most fun band to go and see. They will make you dance and they will make you sing along and you will love every damn second of it. They communicate with the crowd, and each member has their own unique stage presence. They have fun. Gabe does the sexy prancing around stage bit that the others before him had done, but the fact that he's doing it in jest makes it so much better, and far less disgusting. And when a bra got thrown on stage, Alex Suarez kicked it right back off. That is exactly how it should be done.

Next up, Fall Out Boy. I have been a Fall Out Boy fan for close to four years, but have never been able to actually go to a show. I was beyond excited, but the set started slow. There was this big projection of police riots and business suits, which was followed later in the set by Pete Wentz discussing Wall Street, and another video of how we all need to rise up and change the world of the high powered executives and change our lives etc, etc. This is another "live show experience" thing that ticks me off. I bought tickets to a concert, not a political rally. Keep my politicians out of my music, and my musicians out of my politics. BUT, I will admit that I overlooked this a little more than I would have normally, because beside those huge guys standing at the edges of the stage in SWAT team uniforms were Joe, Patrick, Pete, and Andy. Joe and Andy said a grand total of nothing to the crowd the entire time. Pete spent the first three songs looking tired and moody. Patrick came out wearing a white wig. But it got better quickly. They kept playing the intros to songs and my head kept reeling at the fact that songs that had previously been confined to headphones and car stereos were now crashing through an entire arena. I was blown away. I'd always felt that in live recordings on TV, Patrick's voice was a little weaker than it was on the CD, but I was absolutely proven wrong. His voice is amazing and so, so powerful. And they sweep you away into the show with both the stage presence and lyrics, so that when I was standing there, screaming along at the top of my lungs just like every other person in that arena, I believed every word that was flowing out of my mouth. I will never believe in anything again, I don't care what you think as long as it's about me, and why don't you just drop dead? Fall Out Boy is made for large crowds to live along with. They were amazing live.

But. I got a weird feeling. Like this is it. I've felt, since Folie a Deux came out, that "What a Catch Donnie" was written as a funeral dirge for the band. And there was this strange feeling of finality, of sadness and tiredness. I have nothing, no proof, not even a whisper that they are taking time off. I pray that they will be around for many, many years, providing me with the same music that let me get through that horrible summer between high school and college, and those times when I was pretty sure that miserable was my permanent setting. I love Fall Out Boy, and they make the music that lets thousands of kids stand in an arena and all be a part of the same, big something. But I feel that maybe they might take some time after this tour, take at least few months and cool off. Rest up and get ready for the next big thing.

They ended the night with "Saturday." This was the song that made me first listen to FOB, that awesome video with the Queen of Hearts and Pete Wentz hanging from the rafters screaming in some basement. It was the best way it could have ended.

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