Fall Out Boy, Paramore keep rock alive

Posted: July 01, 2014

Rock and roll has been saved!

Or so Fall Out Boy declared Friday when the band's co-headlining tour with fellow pop-punk rockers and Grammy nominees Paramore came to Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden.

There were turbulent lights and triumphant pyrotechnics. When not displaying riot scenes, the above-stage monitors displayed the words "Save Rock And Roll" - the title of Fall Out Boy's 2013 fifth album, their first since 2008. The concert started, as does the album, with "The Phoenix," a song about rising from the ashes and battling for rock.

Rock has continued to slip off the radio and down the charts. Hip-hop dethroned it long ago, and, led by AVICII and Skrillex, electronic dance music, or EDM, has broken through the gates. Fall Out Boy and Paramore are among the few rock bands able to make hits nowadays, so the "Monumentour" pairing is a formidable statement and a strategic rallying of fans.

"This is a testament to live rock music," proclaimed Fall Out Boy's bassist, Pete Wentz, following a bellicose performance of "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race." Singer Patrick Stump, after joyously dancing with his guitar slung over his shoulder during the mid-00s hit "Sugar, We're Going Down," manned a drum kit for a two-person drum solo accompanied by a medley of Jay-Z and Kanye West songs interspersed with EDM tropes. The mighty rock drumming prevailed in the mix over its sonic foes.

No doubt about it: Fall Out Boy rocks. The 20-song set (including a brief take on Queen's "We Are the Champions") was extremely effective and earned fervent shout-alongs. But the band lacks nuance.

Paramore, who delivered a superior performance, did not have this problem.

Frontwoman Hayley Williams kept running during most of the nearly 80-minute set. She leapt in the air as confetti blasted into the crowd. She whipped her teal-dyed hair around like a heavy-metal head-banger, stopping only to bounce huge beach balls to fans. She sprinted back and forth and up and down ramps on either side of the stage. Her lunatic energy was contagious.

Chest-thumping, high-energy songs from Paramore's early discography, including "Pressure" and "Let the Flames Begin," were audience favorites. But, unlike Fall Out Boy, Paramore successfully slowed things down, with beautiful renderings of "The Only Exception" and "Last Hope." Some in the crowd waved lighters, others waved cellphones.

Williams reminisced about Paramore's past Philadelphia shows at much smaller venues, such as North Star Bar and Pontiac Grille. Over the last 10 years, the band's popularity has grown exponentially. And its music, evident on last year's fantastic album, Paramore, has morphed into a uniquely forceful blend of power-pop and rock. The exuberant 14-song set concluded with "Ain't It Fun," Paramore's new single, which currently owns the number one position on a few Billboard pop and rock charts.

Earlier in the night, during "Misery Business," Williams brought a young woman from the audience on stage to sing with her. Like Williams, her hair was dyed. She was nervous at first - it was almost certainly her first time singing for thousands of screaming fans - but she quickly settled in and tried to match Williams' enthusiasm. Perhaps for a moment, she was saved.

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