The Believers Never Die Part Deux traveling circus includes openers Cobra Starship, Metro Station, All Time Low and Hey Monday, and will relocate to nearby Pompano Beach on April 21 (take that, Boca!). Though the night is mostly chock-full of gayish feel-good dance-rock-pop, in truth FOB's set is disturbing -- at least to the idea that they're a bunch of sellout fags with nothing important to say. I caught the Las Vegas stop in early April and can happily report that at long last the band has done something even scarier than merely encouraging kids to mosh out: They decided to take themselves seriously. Never known for being the most stellar live act even among a messy pop-punk crowd, this was the first FOB show I've seen where they seemed to want to sound not just good but great. That means more often than not both bassist (and onetime Out cover boy) Pete Wentz and guitarist Joe Trohman actually stood still and played rather than fly around in their usual aerial skate park routine (don't worry, they still move around plenty).
But I doubt it's their aural skills getting Florida fundies hot under the collar. After a long and impressive commitment to riling up both kids and their parents by acting as gay as possible, this tour's political content went from understated to flat-out in your face. (This isn't a huge surprise: In 2008 the band ponied up $50,000 to fight California's Prop 8 and headlined a Rock the Vote concert at the Democratic National Convention.) In Vegas, Wentz proclaimed the best things about 2009 were having gotten "that cowboy" out of the White House -- and Blink-182's reunion. Before playing "America's Suitehearts," Wentz preached about a culture that teaches girls to diet themselves to death only to be airbrushed even skinnier should they be famous enough to land on magazine covers. The opening third of the show is acted out as a political satire -- in costume -- and, later on, graphics on stage spelled out a call to action for kids to rethink a culture of corporate greed.
After a recent review slammed the band for speaking out, Wentz blasted the idea that their fans are too young or stupid to hear such complicated concepts:
IM GOING KANYE AND GOING ALL CAPS ON THIS ONE.... IF YOU DONT WANT TO HEAR IT STAY FOR THE FIRST FEW BANDS AND LEAVE. THAT WONT GET US TO SHUT UP. WE DONT CARE. I BELIEVE OUR FANS AND THE PEOPLE IN THE CROWD DO GET IT. I DONT CARE IF THEY ARE OLD ENOUGH TO VOTE OR 14. TO CHANGE THINGS WE NEED EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES ON BOARD. WE DONT HAVE A SOLUTION. WE ARENT SHOVING A POLITICAL AGENDA DOWN YOUR THROAT. ALL WE WANT TO DO IS CAST A GIANT SPOTLIGHT ON AN ISSUE AND MAKE IT ABOUT THE PEOPLE NOT THE NUMBERS.
From my vantage point, the kids don't need to be told twice. Much of the material off last year's Folie a Deux was overtly, and obviously, political, and during "(Coffee's For Closers)," an angry, alienated and conflicted song about hope and betrayal, the Vegas crowd all raised their fists in the air to sing along: "A change will come."
And never fear, queers: They haven't stopped climbing all over each other in order to get their rant on. Wentz and singer Patrick Stump finish that song with the most formal of courtship moves: a waltz.
-- SHANA NAOMI KROCHMAL
Previously > The Second Coming of Mika
[Ed note: For some silly reason, people seem to be confused about the tone and even content of this post. While I was too busy scratching my head about "the controversy," Shana was wise enough to write this response:
hey, just for the record: i am as queer as a three-dollar bill, as the saying goes. i'm even more of a fag than pete and just about as sarcastic. (and i don't think fag is always a dirty word, either.)
i wrote approximately 38749 blog posts about how much i love FOB and what pete has to say while i worked at Out, and then convinced everyone there to put him on the COVER of the magazine (where, yup, he called himself a fag. to make a point.).
by all means, please love or hate my writing, my opinions, my taste in music, as loudly as you want. but if you think i was saying something BAD about fall out boy in this post, you missed the point (though i'm glad you're all up in arms at the idea someone might be being homophobic).
i think this band -- and most of its fans -- are among the smartest, most awesome people on the planet. please don't prove me wrong.]