As their iconic debut album ‘Take This To Your Grave’ turns 20 years old, writer Marianne Eloise reflects on her love of the band and the journey they have taken her on through the years.
There’s a line on ‘Love From The Other Side’, the first single off Fall Out Boy’s latest record ‘So Much (For) Stardust’, that rings a little too true. Give up what you love/before it does you in, Patrick Stump urges before diving full-pelt into the chorus. When I first heard it in December of last year, at the start of a teasing release arc that would see them fully back on form, I heard it like a warning – one I wouldn’t heed.
Four months later, I was pressed up against the barrier at the band’s Heaven show the night after seeing them at Band on the Wall in Manchester. From the second the shows were announced, I knew that I would do anything to be there – that I would let the thing I love do me in (again). As an adult, you don’t get many opportunities or excuses to embrace the things that you love, or even to see your friends. Especially if you have children, caregiving responsibilities, disabilities, financial difficulties or other things to worry about, it can be hard to make time for the things that once made you feel alive.
I have loved Fall Out Boy since the first time I saw the video for ‘Sugar We’re Goin’ Down’ on TV in 2005. I had never heard or seen anything quite like it. They had a sense of humour about themselves – still do – that can be rare to find in anyone in the public eye. I was already deep into alternative music, but Fall Out Boy were something different. What made them special then is still at the core of their strengths in reaching new audiences today: Patrick’s voice, Pete’s lyrics, a strong vision, and a sense of humour that you needed if you were wearing eyeliner on the cover of magazines in 2006.
The first Fall Out Boy show I went to was in 2006, at Wolverhampton Civic Hall. They played songs that it makes me sick to know I will likely never again hear live: ‘Tell That Mick He Just Made My List of Things to Do Today’, ‘XO’, ‘Honorable Mention’, etc. As I would one day learn they always do, they closed with ‘Saturday’. I screamed, cried, I danced. I would not see them live again until 2018, in part because I “grew out” of it. Life got in the way, I got older, I stopped being quite as able to throw myself fully into things. That changed when I was 20 years old and in a club with a friend of mine who, sadly, would die later that year. She had Cystic Fibrosis, a condition that made it difficult to get out, but that rarely robbed her of her light. ‘Sugar We’re Goin’ Down’ came on and it was the first time I had heard it in years – I forgot how good it really was. Emma screamed along, and she taught me how to just enjoy something I loved. Still, in 2013, it felt too late to fall back in love like I had once been. I thought I wouldn’t ever go to a Fall Out Boy show again.
Why? Look, like a lot of 30-year-old Fall Out Boy fans, I hated the post-hiatus albums. I did! I hated ‘Save Rock and Roll’, and I hated ‘American Beauty/American Psycho’, and I didn’t want to stand in a room surrounded by people much younger than me singing along to songs I hated. Now, I can see the charm to some of them, but they’re still not mine. For one, they simply do not have enough words. But, over time, I started to write about Fall Out Boy. A lot. Then I started to interview them sometimes. Then, in 2018, during a time in my life when I was finding it hard to get excited about anything, I went to see them in a very small room in Berlin. It felt like it did then. Even with arena-fillers like ‘Centuries’, it felt like a real, sweaty, dirty rock show. I would see them twice more that week and once more later that year, just trying to make up for lost time.
So: when Fall Out Boy announced two teeny tiny shows, one at Heaven in London and one at Band On the Wall in Manchester, I dropped everything to again make up for that lost time. I booked a hotel for two nights in Manchester, I enlisted my husband’s parents to dogsit, and I did as much work as I could in the car on the way up to make it seem as if I was not acting like a teenager. I worked with my friends Mariel and Charlotte in Manchester to make sure they got in at any cost. I messaged my friend Rhian in London daily to make sure she would be side by side with me. I refreshed the cruel ticket page to make sure a couple of other friends could get in too. It was happening.
We drove from Margate to Manchester, which is a long way. The first night we were there, we saw a few friends that we hadn’t since our wedding: our best man Will, our friends Paddy and Ollie. I thought, a few times, that I was so grateful that Fall Out Boy (and live music generally) was the thing to bring us all together, to put our adult concerns aside for a couple of nights. Our friends had been to see Ville Valo that night, and we went to a bar and everyone yelled about music and what is and isn’t hardcore and I just felt very warm to have this weird, argumentative community around me at a point in my life when I had thought I would be long “over it”.
The show at Band on the Wall was tiny, dripping with sweat, hundreds of people crammed into every available gap. Everyone was kind, excited – grateful to be there. Mariel, Charlotte, Karl and I danced and yelled at each other and screamed to the point of tears when they played deeper cuts like ‘Calm Before the Storm’ and ‘Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes’. When ‘Saturday’ opened, I ran through a pit to the front, sweating through my clothes. I felt like a teenager, but that kind of joy doesn’t have to be a feeling relegated to adolescence. Afterwards, we spilled on the street, gabbing about every second of the show. Our friends tried to tell us at the bar that “Fall Out Boy sucks”, “Fall Out Boy betrayed hardcore”, and we just laughed. You had to be there.
The next morning, we raced down to London to do it all over again. At Heaven, Karl, Rhian and I headed straight to the barrier, much to the ire of a fan behind us who felt he “deserved it more”. I have a lot to say about the way fan entitlement has evolved, but this is not the space. Rhian is a parent, an amazing one, and rarely gets the time to do things that are just for her. With no signal inside the club, she panicked a little, and left dad to try and get her daughter down. Fall Out Boy came onstage late, giving Rhian and I two hours to catch up on our lives. I was very aware that this is not space that people, especially parents, often get, and I again felt so full of gratitude that we had been given it by live music. There’s a photo of the band with the audience that I will treasure forever: Rhian, Karl and I are front and centre, beaming together after singing for an hour and a half.
I will never be able to convince anyone who thinks that “Fall Out Boy sucks!” that Fall Out Boy do not suck, and that’s OK. I don’t want to. You don’t deserve them. I have a thick skin from being alive and looking weird in 2006, and nothing you have to say about the things I love will ever affect me. But I do have a mission to try to convince people who do love things to not be scared to do so, no matter how lame or silly or childish they seem. Life is hard and complicated and sometimes a lot shorter than it should be. Make time for the things you love. Let them do you in. There is no point to any of this otherwise.