Photos also by Ryan Dombal
Fall Out Boy
Tuesday, December 16
“You motherfuckers don’t know what Twilight is?!” That’s Pete Wentz joshing with the audience after his reference to the famed “vampire romance novel” was met with shrugs. He sounded surprised. Maybe he shouldn’t be. “Sugar, We’re Going Down” broke three years ago, and there’s a big gap between freshmen and juniors–between Twilight and Anything But Twilight. Right now, Fall Out Boy are trying to bridge that gap: the same one that swallowed Blink-182, and twisted Green Day into Hall of Fame devotees. They just might pull it off.
The four friends from Chicago’s upper crust were celebrating their new LP, Folie à Deux, which is about as self-consciously absurd as its title. It features a string interlude, Elvis Costello, and an immense power ballad with its own career-spanning reprise (all mercifully absent from the gig, btw). But Folie à Deux doesn’t court Grammys as much as it fucks with convention to suit its own snottiness. Wentz is a dad now, but he’ll still make a Bush/ShoeGate parody and post it on his blog.
At the core of Fall Out Boy is one of the most successfully complementary relationships in modern pop: lyricist Wentz and musical prodigy Patrick Stump. Conventional wisdom holds that Wentz gets the Perez headlines while Stump gets things done, but it’s more complicated. These two are classic best friends: the one who never shuts up and the other one who listens along, a little annoyed but mostly thankful someone else is talking. The playful, old-married-couple jibing was ripe last night. Wentz: “People don’t really say the word ‘cinema’ anymore.” Stump: “Actually, it’s used a lot in England.”
But still, the best banter–and there was a lot–was all Wentz. On higher education: “You don’t need to go to college, just read books–I learned that from a movie called Good Will Hunting.” On football: “I’d get my teeth knocked out at Thanksgiving dinner if I didn’t root for the Cowboys.” On Stump: “He’s the world’s best wing man.” Well, shucks. The only awkward moment came when Wentz prodded his best man into leading the chatter. “I’m a bad storyteller,” Stump insisted, before telling a story pretty badly. Wentz is hated and loved. Nobody hates Stump–which is exactly why he needs Pete Wentz.
For all his blog hogging and peacock face paint (tonight: a “b” and an “x” over each eye for new son Bronx), Wentz is a remarkably modest bass player. Whether his rudimentary strums are due to lack of skill or an excess cunning doesn’t really matter. They work. Same goes for the rest of band backing up Stump’s increasingly soulful and confident vocal leads. Newbies “America’s Suitehearts” and “I Don’t Care” rubbed up against tried-and-true’s “Sugar” and “Grand Theft Autumn” without incident. And with his love life relatively squared away, Wentz is turning into a sort of celebutant ombudsman; “Let’s hear it for America’s sweet hearts, I must confess: I’m in love with my own sins,” goes “Suitehearts.” The grinning, sinning scribe introduced it as an ode to Britney Spears.
Folie à Deux translates to “a madness shared by two.” It’s stupendously pretentious. But the band knows it’s stupendously pretentious, so it’s almost endearing. And during the show, Wentz seemed to have a genuine folie à deux moment while humoring a vocal teenager near the front. “He wants to go on stage,” relayed Wentz, before stepping outside of himself and quietly adding, “Me too. That’s all I ever wanted.”–Ryan Dombal