Thursday, September 6, 2018
I have been a fan of Fall Out Boy since I was old enough to discern music I actually liked from, well, music I would personally like to not listen to ever again. That being said, as I sat down in my seat at PPG Paints Arena for the band's Mania tour, I was a bit uncertain how enjoyable the show would be. For some background, Mania was far from one of Fall Out Boy’s strongest albums. A combination of releasing far too many of the tracks as singles — it barely felt like a new album by the time it eventually came out. Plus, the release date was pushed back a few too many times and, the tour dates were posted so long ago that most fans had almost completely forgotten. It all contributed to a general sense of subpar-ness surrounding Mania itself. I was fearful the concert was going to reflect this sentiment.
When you imagine opening acts for a household name in pop punk/alternative rock, who do you think of? Do you see Misterwives opening for Panic! At The Disco’s 2017 Death of a Bachelor tour? Or maybe Jon Bellion and Judah & the Lion setting the scene for Twenty One Pilots’ Emotional Roadshow last year? No matter who came to mind, I imagine you probably were not thinking of American metalcore band Every Time I Die, followed by rapper Machine Gun Kelly.
I have nothing against either of these artists (well other than MGK saying mid-set that he was “Glad to be back in the Midwest!” Like, Pittsburgh? Midwest? Seriously?). But their individual styles did not mesh well with the musical preferences of a crowd drawn primarily by Fall Out Boy. It was a bit painful to watch the lack of enthusiasm the audience of mostly younger alternative fans had for the openers.
Once Fall Out Boy took the stage, the environment picked up. Seats that I initially thought were going to remain empty throughout the show filled in bit by bit. The sleepy girl a row behind me said an audible prayer thanking God for finally bringing an end to Machine Gun Kelly’s set. There was finally a sense of mild excitement.
The show itself was long, but thoroughly enjoyable. I was pleasantly surprised that the focus, despite the tour being called Mania, was not really on the new album’s music. They played the expected classics like "Sugar, We’re Goin Down" as well as slightly less expected classics like "This Ain’t a Scene, It's an Arms Race." It would be faster to list the songs they didn't play from their last three albums than to name every track they did. They played such a healthy variety of old and new, I would be thoroughly surprised if there was a fan in attendance that did not get to hear what they wanted.