Friday, November 28, 2008

Looking Back On Fall Out Boy Fandom

In high school I was the most pretentious music snob in the world. This does not mean that I am not one now, but back then I was really intense. I thought I was super anti-conformist by bringing the conformist “emo” look to my high school, and I listened to bands that I and (what I believed to be) about twenty other people in the tri-state area knew. One of these bands was Fall Out Boy. Pre-“From Under The Cork Tree” album stardom, they were my best kept secret. Their music filled my headphones with the perfect excuse to avoid social situations and their lyrics seemed as though they were written to be quoted all over my angsty Livejournal page.

Then all of a sudden, pop music decided that pop/rock was the new bubblegum and that Fall Out Boy was the new NSYNC. Out of nowhere, all the same kids who made fun of me for my skinny jeans and Tim Burton inspired outfits starting wearing FOB t-shirts to school. At first I was obviously pissed because I felt like my favorite band had sold out to mainstream radio and that their unique and original flavor was lost. Everywhere I went that damn “Sugar We’re Goin’ Down” song was playing and I felt like slitting my wrists and bleeding all over the band paraphernalia I had collected over the years.

Being the Hot Topic poster boy that I was, I couldn’t listen to the same music that everyone else did, duh. When all hope seemed to be lost and my ties with Fall Out Boy looked to be completely severed, an incredible turnaround happened. Always the avid fan, I was in on the gossip scene revolving around the band. Rumors were circulating that Fall Out Boy would be performing a secret headlining show at The Knitting Factory, one of the most intimate concert venues in New York City. On The Knitting Factory’s website, there was a headlining band listed by the name of “Saved Latin” on the day that FOB would allegedly be performing. I figured, “What the hell, I might as well buy tickets and if it’s them then great, if not then maybe I’ll discover a new band to replace these burn outs.”

After a few local garage band type opening acts, I was beginning to get restless. The Knitting Factory after all is no larger than my kitchen, so needless to say that with a couple hundred sweaty people pressing up against one another it was slightly uncomfortable. Every other time I had been there it was for a band that literally a handful of people knew, so I was not used to not having the space to, oh I don’t know, move my arms and maybe breathe? FOB fans, however, are pretty diehard, so even just a rumor managed to sell out the venue within one day of tickets going on sale. To my luck and pleasant surprise, the rumors were correct.

The concert was incredible. I was in the third row and felt like I was on stage with the band. If I had the ability to reach my arm out, I could physically touch them and their instruments. To say it was the most intimate rock concert of my life would be an understatement of epic proportions. Guest musicians such as Travis McCoy from Gym Class Heroes, Gabe Saporta from Midtown/Cobra Starship, and Mikey Way from My Chemical Romance all joined the band on stage throughout their nearly two hour set. To my delight, FOB decided to also play the majority of their first album, the one that made me fall in love with them from the very beginning. Intertwining those songs with songs from their new release made me actually appreciate the musicality behind it, rather than write it off as a sell-out record. As it turned out, I actually kind of liked it. Once I get passed my pretentiousness, I realized that “From Under The Cork Tree” was actually a phenomenal record, and to this day I can honestly say it is my favorite Fall Out Boy album.

The high of the night never died down. During “Dead On Arrival” I started to crowd surf, only to have lead singer Patrick Stump scream sing into my face as the security guards were pulling me down. I felt like a complete bad-ass and I stopped caring about how many other people liked this band, because I knew I had a connection with them through this experience that could not be shared and was exclusive to me.

When the concert was over, I hung around the venue and was chatting away with Mikey Way for a while before Fall Out Boy came out. I ended up being pressed in the hallway by the door directly on bassist Pete Wentz, causing my hormones to spin out of control while externally trying to play it real cool. I made small talk with him and congratulated him on the success of the band before shaking hands and parting ways. I was literally on top of the world.

Looking back on it, I realize that as sad as it is, my love for Fall Out Boy would have died had it not been for this concert. Even today as my music change has completely shifted away from the genre that Fall Out Boy does, I eagerly await their new releases and always support them by buying whatever record they put out. True, if I discovered them today I would not be the devoted fan that I am, but ever since that March night in high school, I’ve felt a loyalty to them that I just can’t back out on. I’ve pre-ordered their new album “Folie A Deux,” which has already been hailed by various music publications as one of the best albums of 2008. And when they tour again, let’s be serious, I’ll most likely be one of the first people on Ticketmaster buying myself a seat in whatever gargantuan stadium they play in next.

Going to the Knitting Factory that night was probably one of the most significant concert experiences of my life because it was as if my favorite band came into my living room and performed a private show for me. Now, watching Fall Out Boy play sold out stadiums like Madison Square Garden and then thinking back to that night makes me feel like I have a secret - and no matter how many thousands of fans they may have, that night will forever be mine.

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