A quick author’s note before we dive in- this is a personal narrative from my experience at the Fall Out Boy MANIA tour. I apologize if the writing style is a bit more informal/stranger than usual. I hope this piece can be useful for anyone who has yet to have their MANIA experience (I’m looking at you, Europe!) or would like some insight into the world of Fall Out Boy pop up shops. This piece is INSANELY long, so I’ll make it a two-parter. If you’re interested in hearing about my Fall Out Boy pop up shop experience and meeting Pete Wentz, click here, or find an alternate link at the bottom of this text. Enjoy!
Fourth row seats are awesome. Fourth row seats for the Fall Out Boy MANIA tour? Absolutely incredible. May 1st, 2017, 10:04 am. Exactly four minutes after Ticketmaster presale started. I had them. Through presale merchandise purchases, impeccable ticket buying strategy, debit card overcharges, and good luck on my side, I had secured fourth row VIP tickets to Fall Out Boy’s MANIA tour at The Forum. The concert date itself wasn’t until November 17th, but that didn’t matter. I was passionate and over prepared. No matter how cool I try to make myself sound in retrospect, at the end of the day I’m just a music-loving 18 year old who’ll always go to great lengths for her favorite band.
This is a recurring theme in this story, but I can honestly say that the hardest part is always the wait. About six and a half months later, the day had come. I was in disbelief. On the drive through Inglewood I stopped about every five minutes to remind my friends, “Hey guys… this is actually happening… wow I love Fall Out Boy”. After we received our tickets at Will Call, we were presented with a commemorative lanyard which not only served as cool memento, but also our badge into the exclusive VIP lounge. In this case, it was a huge white tent in the middle of the parking lot. Unassuming on the outside, the tent’s bland exterior concealed the treasures within. The inside of the VIP lounge was far more than we bargained for. The entire space was purple lit, going along with the MANIA aesthetic. There was all sorts of Fall Out Boy memorabilia about. Platinum certified albums, old tour posters and VIP laminates, guitars and jackets belonging to the boys, Pete Wentz’s autographed One Tree Hill script, and even Fall Out Boy’s 2006 Teen Choice Award surfboard. This, combined with free snacks and a multitude of Instagrammable photo opportunities made the VIP lounge an incredibly cool place to hang out before the show.
When it neared 7 o’clock, we made our way inside the arena. We felt a rush of excitement as we walked past every security guard who gave us directions and verified our tickets. Once we got to our seats, we took it all in. Despite the fact that there would be a barricade and a security guard between us, we were maybe 15 feet away from the actual stage, tops. What was in front of us was impressive, but all that was behind us was truly breathtaking. The Forum seats over 17,000 people, and when we turned around, we could see almost all of them. Although I’ll never be performing sold out arena tours in a headlining band, when I turned around that night, I got to see that view. Pretty surreal.
The lights suddenly went down, breaking me out of my trance. Jaden Smith appeared on stage, branding himself as Syre. His trendy verses and sick dance moves really got the audience hyped for the rest of the show. Smith also had some surprise guest stars during his set, including a seemingly random fan who jumped onto the barricade to dance- who we soon found out was Justin Bieber, and a masked hero who emerged on stage during the performance of “Batman”, who (not so) surprisingly was revealed to be Fall Out Boy’s own frontman, Pete Wentz. Following Smith was alternative hip-hop artist Blackbear, who has garnered a bit of a cult following, and had people all over the crowd standing up in their seats. Fan favorites like “Make Daddy Proud” and “Do Re Mi” had everyone bopping, regardless if they were pre-existing fans or not. The MANIA tour's opening acts were extremely solid. I knew about both artists, and had heard one or two of their songs before, but I wouldn’t consider myself anything more than a casual fan. Seeing these two guys live made me question my standing. They are both extremely good performers, and I can definitely see myself listening to more of their stuff in the future. Plus, they were a very good intro to Fall Out Boy.
The lights go down once more. The crowd screams louder than it has all night. Moment of truth. Purple tsunami waves flash on the screen along with a countdown. Twenty seconds. Ten. Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Flashes of fire and smoke begin to burst from the stage. The forcefully orchestrated string melody of “The Phoenix” begins to blast through the speakers while Andy Hurley keeps time on the drums. Fall Out Boy emerges from underneath the stage on rising platforms, running to their spots the second their feet touch stationary ground. Patrick Stump is stomping to the beat while leaning into the mic, Joe Trohman is stage right, jumping and twirling around with his Signature Telecaster, and Pete Wentz is… well, being Pete. The bassist slash frontman is playing his guitar while strutting around stage and occasionally motioning to the crowd, getting insane cheers and screams. The energy in the room is at an all time high. I feel the heat every time the pyrotechnics go off, and I swear they’re almost close enough to burn me.
Once the opening song is done, there’s a pause from the band and a lull in the crowd. It’s very slight, and fueled by the fact that we all have crazy amounts of energy and nowhere to put it… yet. Pete gives a short speech about how we’re on a ride together for the next two and a half hours, and then they continue on with “Irresistible”. This is the part where my personal concert experience goes from great to unforgettable. The night before, I decided to print a last minute sign for the show. Pretty girls with witty signs always get seen, right? I had hastily typed out a sign in caps, boldface, and italics that read “I PAID $600 FOR THESE SEATS AND ALL I GOT WAS PETE WENTZ TO NOTICE ME”, as an ode to my determination and a subtle nod to their limited edition MANIA shirts, as well as their 2006 song “I Slept With Someone In Fall Out Boy And All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me”. Timing it to the beat of “Irresistible”, somewhere between the bridge and the final chorus, I lift up my sign. I make eye contact with Pete Wentz himself. After reading the sign, he flashes me a smile, taps his leg, and raises his arm up to the sky. He watches on as my friends and I all scream in happiness, smiling and nodding at us again as he struts over to the opposite side of the stage. Even though I was extremely starstruck, manners were not lost on me. During the opening notes of “Hum Hallelujah”, I quickly scribbled something on the back of the sign using the handy pen I brought in my bag (precisely for situations like this one). Halfway through the song, I raised up my crappy scrawled sign that read “THX PETE”, which he noticed too. The fangirl in me died a little more. Since we had seats on the side of the stage he played, Pete kept acknowledging the members of my party for the remainder of the show. A nod and smile here, a glance there to make sure we knew the words to the newest and the oldest songs, and various attempts to toss me his guitar pick (all of which, sadly, went over my head) were the cherry on top of an already amazing night with my favorite band.
Heart eyes for Pete Wentz aside, the MANIA tour was one of the best yet. I’ve been to Boys of Zummer and Fall Out Boy’s 2015 Almost Acoustic set, but this show was easily my favorite. The setlist was amazing, a perfect mix of old and new music. My personal favorites included “Hum Hallelujah”, “Grand Theft Autumn”, “Save Rock ‘N Roll” and new release “Last Of The Real Ones”. Because the Los Angeles show was on November 17th, all current MANIA singles had already been released, and we were treated to a live performance of every one out so far, including brand new “HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T” which had been released only two days prior. My only complaints about this setlist is that it was missing fan favorite “A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More Touch Me”, and for this particular show, “Alone Together” was skipped in favor of “HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T”. Also, they didn’t play enough Folie A Deux, but that’s a disappointment I’ll forever be used to. All in all though, these are miniscule things, and I still consider the MANIA tour setlist to be the best I’ve heard live. Furthermore, because the new album has a great aesthetic, the visuals for the tour were absolutely on point. Projections of huge purple waves, celebrity photo tributes during “I Don’t Care”, “Save Rock ‘N Roll”, and “Champion”, as well as smoke, fire, and a beautiful display of light during Patrick's piano rendition of “Young And Menace”. Thanks to a team of dedicated fans, the Fall Out Boy MANIA Tour Project came to life. Thousands of small purple papers were passed out before the show, which were then placed over smartphone flashlights during the song, creating a beautiful wave of tiny purple lights throughout the whole venue.
The night was ended by the band’s trademark closing song, “Saturday”. Pete Wentz came out in a vintage Lakers jersey, doing his well-known screamo and fan hand holding. While Patrick sang his heart out during the final chorus of the song, blasts of purple and white confetti exploded from stage cannons, making for a picture-perfect end to a perfect night.
After the show, I was exhausted, yet satisfied. I thought I’d had my fill of Fall Out Boy for months to come, but it turns out that the universe had other plans.