Fall Out Boy: Carling Brixton Acedemy, London; Sunday April 1
Pretty boy Pete and the other three return to milk more dollars from the stadium-emo cash cow
You know when gasping young girls are being carried out of the heaving pit before the gig’s even started that you’re in for a rough night. But before the gaudy hip-hop intro has even finished, preceding even the opening chimes of ‘Fashion Sense’, a line of casualties builds behind the bouncers, marking Brixton’s fall to Fall Out Boy. They’re going wild before it’s even begun, but this ain’t a scene, it’s a goddamn arse rape.
If FOB now reside on the Def Con 1 of credibility, nobody’s told this Academyful of panda-eyed footsoldiers. This is what happens when everything goes right for a subculture founded on things going wrong. Emo’s long gone, and Wentz’s move to LA has led them from dour pop punks towards polished purveyors of stadium entertainment. They’ve become – shudder – the new Red Hot Chili Peppers, and it’s not a pretty sight.
Emasculated frontman Patrick Stump is bigger than ever, huffing and puffing his way through, while drummer Andy Hurley looks happy to be Fozzie Bear. But this is Wentz’s show, now more than ever. Deny it as he might, his rolled-up left trouser leg, diamanté-studded hoodie and polka dot bass tell a different story. Wentz is an evil genius. He pisses off just the right people – the ones he doesn’t need – and is able to bask in the adulation of the ones he does; one foot safely in the emo blogosphere so he can use the other one to roll with Timbaland and act it up as Hollywood’s new playboy.
Spinning-bird-kicking across Brixton’s stage like the spawn of Gene Simmons and H from Steps, he’s now far more famous than any of his songs. Fall Out Boy got a long way on two choruses, and with ‘Infinity On High’ made one of the most garishly Marmite follow-ups of all time – all Babyface collaborations, flirting with Jay-Z, and calls of “hallelujah”. The hits barely stop throughout tonight, but they look ashamed of it, trying to play down the glitter, with ‘Thriller’ and ‘Thnks Fr Th Mmrs’ reined in to something less than their tasteless power. It’s like they’re trying to pay their dues to the boys’ club when their true destiny lies in the hot tub.
They do, however, drag out a fat friend, known as ‘DIRTY’, to get spanked on the arse with a pool cue, but it feels like space-filling in a show that clocks in at little over an hour. Fall Out Boy want to be real rockers, but they can never go back. Next time we want Jay-Z, or a serviceable lookalike. We want articulated hospital beds. We want pyrotechnics, costume changes, revolving drum risers, socks on cocks. Come on Fall Out Boy, it’s time to get off the pot or piss in it.