Fall Out Boy fans prove emo’s far from dead

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Fall Out Boy are not a name that you would necessarily associate with the music scene of 2015. For many, they’re a band consigned solely to the dead subculture of ‘emo’ which was at its peak in the years between 2005 and 2010. But if you were to survey the scene at the 3 Arena last Thursday you would be forced to admit that emo is very much alive and well. Black clothes and intense fringes were the order of the night and once everyone had endured a set by the puzzling choice of support act, Professor Green, the excitement was palpable.

After a three-year hiatus Fall Out Boy reformed in 2012 and have released two albums, Save Rock and Roll in 2013, and American Beauty/American Psycho earlier this year. It was no sure thing that their former fanbase would be there for them upon their reformation. The emo youth culture is associated with tweens and teens and with most of their original fans in college or their early twenties by now, there was a risk that they would be too mature to reconnect with their former heroes, but this was far from the case.

Save Rock and Roll debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 200 chart in America with Rolling Stone calling their comeback “a rather stunning renaissance”. Their show at the Olympia last year sold out in less than half an hour and tickets for this gig sold briskly too although ultimately did not quite sell out most likely due to the much larger venue.

Sold out or not, Fall Out Boy’s fans made themselves known in the 3 Arena only adding weight to my suspicion that former emos shout the loudest. Yelling and hollering at every roadie that appeared on stage I wondered if there’d be anything left for the band. How wrong I was. Opening with a classic, as soon as the first chords of Sugar We’re Goin’ Down rang out the cheers and screaming filled the arena and I was right there with them, “woo”-ing and singing my heart out.

As it turns out an emo’s crush on Pete Wentz never really dies, it may have lain dormant for a few years but as soon as I clapped eyes on him I was transported to my pop-punk past and he was once again my one true love. I wasn’t the only one who reverted to a former self. The group of friends are ones I met after their teen angst peak but with hands on chests singing about their “car-crash hearts” they were no longer PR professionals and science graduates but their fifteen-year-old selves belting out lyrics that meant everything to them. It was like a real life #ThrowBackThursday.

The set was a mix of old and new with acoustic versions of Immortals and Young Volcanoes right in the middle, followed by an impressive solo by drummer Andy Hurley which included a cover of Trap Queen which was as confusing as it was impressive. Singer Patrick Stump’s voice was at its pop-punk best and his diction has improved immensely since I first saw the band in 2008.

A cover of Beat It gave lead guitarist Joe Trohman a chance to show off his immense skills. Fan favourites Dance, Dance and Where Is Your Boy Tonight all made an appearance and were greeted with the expected mania. The encore was a perfect mix of old and new with the upbeat hit from their comeback album My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark’s slick production perfectly balancing the grit and vinegar of Saturday, a song from their first record with a huge nostalgia factor for a lot of their fans before an incredible screaming finale courtesy of bassist Pete Wentz. This was the first time they had the chance to bring their full show to Ireland and the pyrotechnics and huge screens made all the difference.

Post-show I talked to some fans to see what they thought of the gig and ask why they’re still fans in 2015. I first approached some younger fans hoping to find some for whom the new albums had been their introduction. Unfortunately my luck was out on that count as everyone who’d talk to me had been a fan since at least 2005 or so.

Olly (16) has been a fan since Sugar We’re Going Down was released in 2005 and had only good things to say about the band and their new work, “I actually like some of their new stuff better as it’s more my style… tonight exceeded my expectations, it was my first time seeing them and they were so, so good.”

An older fan, Sadbh (20) had maternal feelings towards the band as she saw them for the first time.

“I kind of felt like a proud mother, almost like they were my kids and I was like ‘that’s it boys!’,” she said.

Her pride was palpable if a little confusing considering she’s at least a decade younger than the band.

Her friend Kelly welcomed new fans discovering the band.

“I think fans have to be adaptable to change and I think it’s really great that there’s a whole new generation of Fall Out Boy fans and this is their first Fall Out Boy album and I think that’s so sweet,” she explained.

Robert (22) was the oldest fan I spoke to and had a lot to say about their new material and longevity.

“I think their new stuff is written for arenas and is a lot more sing-songy and that works live but a lot of their punch is in their older songs when they were more emotional but obviously they’re more removed from that now that they’re stars,” he said.

“I think their hiatus built hype unbeknownst to them and they’ve managed to keep it going although I don’t really know how. I think it’s nostalgia coupled with new music that’s pretty good so it’s that combination that’s kept them afloat so far.”

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