Eight years ago I was sitting in my now-roommate Josh's bedroom watching him and his little brothers play Halo, because, you know, I sucked ass and got creamed every time I tried. We'd hooked up his iPod classic to one of those gaming chairs with the speakers in the side. I had just started really getting into music at the time; I grew up in Bowling Green, Kentucky on a farm where the only music I'd been exposed to fell either into George Strait style country music or classic rock. Of course, I was still in 8th grade. Josh and I had just started becoming friends, so we were still doing the whole, testing the waters thing when it came to music. You know, the whole, throw the whole iPod on shuffle and just say fuck it and hope the other guy likes it.
I don't remember the outcome of that game. I don't remember us doing anything that day besides play video games and listen to music. What I do remember is the first time I heard "Sugar, We're Goin Down" and how I half-demanded him to tell me what the fuck we were listening to because it was something unlike I'd ever heard before. It was pop/punk and I'd never listened to pop/punk or anything like it before. Fuck George Strait; I wanted to listen to this shit. I hate to be cliche here, but from that moment on my entire idea of what I liked about music changed. I wanted lyrics and hooks and pop/punk melodies from albums where you couldn't skip a single song, rather than those country radio hits that I'd been listening to my whole life. This is where it all began.
So today when Fall Out Boy came back off their hiatus I freaked. There'd been rumors of a couple off dates that they'd play; I was more than prepared to drop half my tax return to another trip to Chicago or to Skate and Surf in New Jersey even. I'd expected a couple off dates, but never a new single today. Never an album announcement. Never a tour that actually came to Nashville.
Today Fall Out Boy released "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark", the first single off of their new album Save Rock and Roll. The song itself sounds like a natural progression from what came off of Folie a Deux. However, the symbolism behind all of this is what makes me wonder what the whole album will sound like. The video of the single depicts 2 Chainz torching all the bands past albums; the new website has a picture of band doing the same. The release date of the new album is exactly 10 years after the release date of Take This To Your Grave. That couldn't have been by accident.
I remember an interview with the band on the release of Folie a Deux about how they wanted their songs to live in the vein of anthemic classic rock songs; they wanted their own "Back In Black" like AC/DC had. I feel like Save Rock And Roll, while this first single having a much more R&B vibe than anything Rock n' Roll, continues on that mentality. This is the album that will make or break them, and I'm definitely not betting on the latter.
The last two albums haven't been Take This To Your Grave part 2 or the From Under The Cork Tree sequel, but they have still been albums that distinctly sounded Fall Out Boy. They've had the lyrics, the hooks, the distinct Patrick Stump vocals. When they went out on their hiatus, they left on a perfect note. Look closely at the "What A Catch, Donnie" music video. In it, they're leaving everything about their past behind. They pay tribute to their old songs, but they know that with each album comes a changing band. I mean, at that point they were on a boat leaving behind all of the memorabilia from their past records. Now they're coming back for all of that stuff and lighting it on fire.
"My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark" tells us that they're even lighting the ashes on fire, but from those we will watch a new Fall Out Boy rise. No, it won't be exactly the same. They're not going to be that same band that I heard 8 years ago, though I still suck ass at Halo. But we're going to know it's them.
This past week Josh and I embarked on our annual trek to the Vans Warped Tour. This was our first year in St. Louis; we picked the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater over Riverbend because of the slightly different (better) lineup. This was the hottest Warped I’ve been to in four years and I have the bridging-on-sun-poisoning sunburn to prove it. We ran through the venue and saw sets by 25 bands and it was incredible. I’d say it was the best line-up in the four years I’ve been going. These are the bands we saw throughout the day:
Every Time I Die
Motionless In White
Make Do And Mend
I Fight Dragons
The Ghost Inside
We Are The Ocean
Four Year Strong
Pierce The Veil
Taking Back Sunday
All Time Low
New Found Glory
Miss May I
Sleeping With Sirens
We got to the venue at about 9:30 am to beat out the viciously long line of concert-goers. Doors opened at 11 and 11:15 we were happily greeted by Every Time I Die. Keith Buckley carried on his tradition in being an excellent frontman commanding the crowd and marching around the stage like a madman. We watched them play a great set which included my favorite song of theirs, “The New Black” as well as a newer song, “Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space”. They were very well received by the early rising crowd.
Around 11:35 we ran over to see if we could catch a bit of Funeral Party’s set. They actually were having technical difficulties and were late starting, but we got there just in time to catch “Finale”, the song I wanted to see.
Afterwards we ran over to see Motionless in White who always seem to put on a good show. We walked up to “Creatures” and they played some newer songs after that. Chris Motionless was the incredibly nice guy on stage as he always is, complimenting and thanking the crowd in between each of his screaming songs.
For Today was next on my makeshift schedule. Honestly I haven’t listened to very many of their songs, but they put on an incredible show and it definitely made me want to look up some of their discography. Their frontman did a great job of getting the crowd going with buildups and handclaps. They played a newer song “Fearless” and it really impressed me with the crowd chanting the introduction and it made for a great experience.
We ran over to the new Acoustic Basement trying to get a glimpse of Make Do and Mend’s acoustic set, but the tent was so full we couldn’t really get in there.
Since we didn’t really get to see Make Do and Mend we caught the tail end of Ballyhoo’s set, which was pretty cool, but pretty forgettable. They seemed like your average pop/punk band.
Next on our line-up was I Fight Dragons. I had heard a couple songs off their debut EP in the past, so I was well aware of the way they molded 8-bit instrumentals into their songs. Notable moments include a SNES controller, as well as what could have been a Guitar Hero guitar (not sure on this one) being thron into the performance. They played “The Faster The Treadmill…” off their EP and I was pleasantly surprised. Their nerdy bravado came across great and they sounded really good.
We left I Fight Dragons to try and catch a glimpse of The Ghost Inside. While either I missed or they didn’t play “Engine 45”, the song I wanted to hear, they put on a good show. They played a track from their debut album which sounded really good, but, being unfamiliar with the band besides their latest album, I don’t remember the name. We were able to catch “Outlive” and a couple other songs though. Jonathan Vigil’s stage presence came across very well to me and the rest of the crowd.
Josh had wanted to see We Are The Ocean, a band that I wasn’t familiar with, so we walked over there after The Ghost Inside finished. Now even though their crowd wasn’t very large they played an amazing show. I was really impressed with their brand of pop/punk and the way the lead singer took command of what was there of the crowd was really impressive. He really got everyone singing and clapping along and it was one of my favorite experiences of the day. They played a song called “The Waiting Room” and it really got the crowd going. Josh was thoroughly impressed as well.
I had heard good things about a band called Streetlight Manifesto so when We Are The Ocean finished we walked over and checked them out. Their blend of Ska was really fun. It seemed as if they had ten people on stage with various brass instruments. They mentioned they have all of their music free on their website, so I’m definitely going to have to check that out and get more familiar with the band. If you like fast paced Ska/punk you should check these guys out.
At 1:45 we walked over to Tilly’s Stage to check out of my must-see’s, Senses Fail. With the crowd they brought it really didn’t make much sense why they weren’t playing main stage, but they brought a flawless performance. Buddy Nielson commanded the stage with awkward, but funny, humor between songs as well as with 10 years of experience in getting a crowd going. They started the show with “Rum Is For Drinking, Not Burning”, the song that got me into the band, and carried on with other favorites such as “Calling All Cars” and “Can’t Be Saved”. They also played new song of their latest EP, “War Paint” which really drove home with an impressive vocal performance by Nielson. You can tell this band is doing what it wants and knows what it’s doing.
After Senses Fail we ran to the Kia Soul Stage, one of the two main stages this year, and caught the end of Four Year Strong’s set. We caught “Manic (R.O.D.)” and they performed it great. The crowd chanting “Rise or Die” really hit it hard and got everyone into the moment, course everyone was pumped to see them anyway. They had a huge drawing. They played “It Must Really Such To Be Four Year Strong Right Now” and closed the set with “Wasting Time” which ended their showcase very well.
Anti-Flag was next up over on the opposite main stage, the Kia Rio Stage. Being my very favorite performance of the 2009 Vans Warped Tour, I was extremely excited to see the band again. They played favorites such as “This Is The End (For You My Friend)”, “Turncoat”, “The Press Corpse”, and “Die For The Government” as well as “Death of A Nation” and “One Trillion Dollars”, the latter of which I was very surprised to hear. Chris #2 went on quite a banter about respecting women, at one point telling girls that at any point in time a misogynistic prick comes up to them and tell them to “Show me your tits”, that they should spit in his face and tell him to fuck off (Ironically All Time Low played this very same stage later that day). Right before playing “Death of a Nation” Justin Sane called out this crowd member with a huge Mohawk and commanded him into leading a huge circle pit. Note, that this was right after he made fun of the same crowd member for messing up during the chant counting 1, 2, 3,4. Sane yelled, “He may not be able to count to four, but he can lead this circle pit like a motherfucker.” Other notable events were appearances by the green power ranger and Spiderman in the pits. All in all, Anti-flag played one of the most solid performances of the entire day and reminded me why I got into punk music in the first place.
We watched Mayday Parade on the Monster Energy stage after Anti-Flag closed their set. Now, honestly haven’t listened to much of Mayday Parade since Jason Lancaster left the band, but the old favorites I knew that they played I loved. “Jersey” sounded as great as it did the last time I saw them at Warped 2010 and they really got everyone moving during “Black Cat” and everyone went wild during the bridge. While they didn’t play “Three Cheers”, I was happy to hear “Jamie All Over” when they closed their set with it. Though their newer songs don’t do much for me, their performance made me want to give them a second listen.
Pierce the Veil was up back on the Kia Rio Stage so we headed to their set once Mayday finished their thing. We walked up during their performance of “The Boy Who Could Fly”, just in time to watch Vic Fuentes serenade a girl with “Yeah Boy And Doll Face”. Their new song “King For A Day” was excellent, and even though Kellin Quin wasn’t back from visiting his daughter yet they did his part justice. “Bulletproof Love” was surprisingly good to hear and they closed their set with “Caraphernelia”. Their playing was very well done and matched their studio performances.
Next we ran over to Taking Back Sunday take the stage. We got there just in time to hear they come out to the Lion King introduction. John Nolan and Adam Lazzara’s chemistry onstage is unmatched by any other band’s lead and backup vocalists. They came out strong to “El Paso” and carried into “Error: Operator” and “Timberwolves From New Jersey”. They sounded as good as I’d seen them in Nashville on their last headlining tour and I was happy about that. “What’s It Feel Like To Be A Ghost?” and “Cute Without the ‘E’” were done great, however Lazzara seemed to get a little upset during the performance after a remark from one person in the crowd, shouting, “You might see a bunch of skinny motherfuckers ‘round here swinging mics but they’re not me. I’ll pop you in the face and swing it back.” They closed the set with “Make Damn Sure” and at the end of it Lazzara made sure to throw and hang mic up into the rafters above the band. It was pretty climactic.
By this time of the day we were dead and walked to get food. We caught a song of Breathe Carolina’s while I was getting my ten dollar double cheeseburger and it sounded fine. Very poppy .
After my over-priced cheeseburger I wanted to walk over to see what all the fuss over Title Fight was about. Though I hadn’t heard much of their music, I wasn’t very impressed with their performance. Though they played their songs with what seemed technical proficiency, they lacked much bravado and didn’t do much to hype the crowd; they really just played their songs. If I was more familiar with the band it might have been different, but they didn’t catch my eye/ear.
Transit was supposed to be playing next but their set time got delayed and interfered with the rest of my schedule so we unfortunately weren’t able to catch their set.
However, we were able to catch a really good set by All Time Low. Now, I’ve said on many occasions that All Time Low has been on a major decline since Put Up Or Shut Up. However, this being the third time I’ve seen them, they put on a really good show. Like everyone says, they really copy the Blink antics with wisecracks and talk about blowjobs and bras thrown onstage. Though with all of this they played their songs flawlessly. I was unhappy that they never played “Coffee Shop Soundtrack”, but newer songs like “Damned If I Do Ya”, “Time Bomb”, “Reckless and the Brave”, and “Weightless” were performed very well. They played a couple older songs such as “Jersey Rae” and “Dear Maria” which the crowd was ecstatic to hear. They drew a great crowd and no one who came to see them left unhappy.
We got to New Found Glory just as they started “All Downhill From Here” and I was pumped. The band wore matching New Found Glory basketball jerseys and played in front of their “Pop Punk’s Not Dead” backdrop and really played their stuff perfectly. I’m not the biggest NFG fan, but I do them a decent bit. Regardless they played really well, even throwing a cover of Green Day’s “Basket Case” into the mix. They closed the set with “My Friends Over You” and ended things perfect. I ended up having Chad Gilbert’s guitar pick throw literally to my feet which was pretty awesome.
We raced from main stage to main stage to see Miss May I throw around some screams and growls. I really only know “Forgive and Forget” by the band, but newer songs “Hey Mister” and “Balled of a Broken Man” shimmered in their own ways. The most memorable part of the set, and one of the most memorable of the day, was when frontman Levi Benton corralled the crowd into running what he called not a circle pit, but a marathon pit, around the entire stage. Now at this point Josh and I were sitting on a hill overlooking the crowd and the stage so we had the most perfect view of this amazing sight, especially when those in the marathon pit took off in opposite directions and clashed in the middle, opposite the stage.
Now, Rise Against was the main reason we went to St. Louis instead of Cincinnati for this year’s Vans Warped Tour. Although they played a majority of songs off Appeal To Reason and Endgame, (“Collapse”, “Help Is on the Way”, “Re-Education”, “Satellite” and “Savior”) older songs off Sufferer and the Witness “Ready To Fall” and “Prayer of the Refugee” were done really well. Tim McIlrath took control of the crowd and got everyone off their feet for the whole performance. Each song was completed seamlessly and I was very impressed. They closed the set much to my happiness with “Give It All”, one of my favorite Rise Against songs. Though they lacked anything off The Unraveling or Revolutions Per Minute in their setlist, they put on a hell of a show.
When we got to The Used a little late after finishing Rise Against’s set they were in the middle of one of their newer songs. Bert McCracken’s stage presence and vocals were done well throughout the performance, belting out favorites such as “The Taste of Ink” and “All That I’ve Got”. At one point, what looked like a sixteen year old girl flipped off McCracken and he yelled to her, “Fuck me? Fuck you.” as well as other banter. He had her pulled onstage and told the crowd that she said The Used was her least-favorite band ever (even though they obviously weren’t) and the entire crowd booed her. It was really hilarious. I’m sure she loved the attention and he let her stay onstage the rest of the performance. I had heard that Bert wasn’t able to scream anymore, and sadly this was true. However his singing was done about as well as it was in his studio performances. They played “Pretty Handsome Awkward” well, and for the song Bert told the crowd they were playing “The greatest song ever written” and they played the intro to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” which led into “A Box Full of Sharp Objects”. It was really great.
We caught the tail end of Sleeping With Sirens set as they closed with “If I’m James Dean, You’re Audrey Hepburn” and Kellin Quinn did his vocal duties flawlessly. Though I’m not really a fan of their music, they performed their song very well.
Now, there was not one band better to close the day than Yellowcard whose music is the epitome of summer. Newer songs “For You, And Your Denial” and “Always Summer” were done great making me even more excited for their new album in August. Even though it had been 106 degrees all day the crowd pulled out whatever energy they had left and went absolutely crazy for Yellowcard. “Lights and Sounds” was done very well and the band slowed things down for a bit and pulled out “Only One” and absolutely killed it. They closed with “Ocean Avenue” and ended the day absolutely perfectly.