When eighth grade me asked my dad if I could go to a concert for my favorite band, I didn’t imagine that he would want to chaperon my excursion. Fall Out Boy had just come out with their seminal album, From Under The Cork Tree, and I knew the Chicago-based band would likely not return to the state of North Carolina for years to come.
Having convinced one of my friends (who was wholly unfamiliar with the band in question) to accompany me to the show, I trembled with excitement as our car neared the coliseum. I did not expect my dad to park the car in a nearby lot, and I certainly did not expect him to walk in the concert venue with us. When you’re in the eighth grade, nothing is more uncool that acknowledging the fact that you have parents.
My dad ended up standing with my friend and I for the entirety of the evening. He handed us both earplugs, and we laughed at him for being a geezer. Then, the music started. Turns out the earplugs weren’t such a bad idea after all.
We watched opening bands The All American Rejects, Hawthorne Heights, and From First to Last (whose lead singer eventually quit to pursue a solo dubstep career under the moniker, Skrillex) before Fall Out Boy took the stage. Despite the fact that the tickets said the show was for “all ages,” my eighth grade homie and I got an earful from the frontman Pete Wentz (who doesn’t even sing, just writes lyrics), who dropped the F-bomb every other word. What I found to be more uncomfortable than the profane language, however, was the fact that my father was making a big show out of how much he disapproved of the language. In the eighth grade, the real cool kids don’t care about bad words, so naturally, I was worried about my street cred.
What broke my heart the most about the performance was the live performance from vocalist/guitarist Patrick Stumph, whose voice cracked severely and consistently throughout the whole show. I never wanted to believe that I could be duped into liking a band whose talent was more studio-crafted than genuine.
Although today, I would say that I have a tangible appreciation for the group’s songwriting abilities (as demonstrated in the attached Youtube video), their departure from organic/raw pop punk in order to pursue more generic pop-rock with pop/hip hop influences strikes me as less endearing and more artificial.