So Much for (Tour) Dust
June 21 – August 6, 2023
by Eric Riley
Tuesday, June 20th, 2023; UA2654, 10:40AM ALB to CHI.
It’s bright and it’s muggy and it’s bordering on miserable, but it’s also leg one of what will over the course of the next six weeks become one of a handful of the most memorable concert experiences that I not only have ever had, but going forward, will likely ever have.
But without getting too far ahead of myself, I have to backtrack just a bit for things to come full circle.
Back in January, with the release of “Love From the Other Side” and the announcement of So Much (for) Stardust soon after, new Fall Out Boy music was on the way for the first time in five years. For some, the excitement was immediate. And with more social media presence than usual, along with the cryptic breadcrumbing being done with a nationwide seashell scavenger hunt, there was a feeling of the “old” Fall Out Boy being back; Neal Avron back as producer, elaborate viral marketing, connected cinematic music videos – it was all the right amount of weird that felt familiar.
But for others, that potential familiarity was a fear, while the “stadium rock” echoes of American Beauty/American Psycho and the bitter taste that MANIA left may have soured any sweetness the announcement brought.
(For the record: I am 100% a defender of both AB/AP and MANIA. Both albums have some career-best tracks on them and 9 out of 10 other bands would kill for either of Fall Out Boy’s worst* records to be their greatest hits album. I could go on and on, but I have a lot more to get to. This’ll come up again though, so we’ll just put a pin in it for now.)
With a single out and an album coming, the buzz about a potential tour began swirling and it didn’t take long for the rumor mill to start churning. After a hugely successful though perforated run with Weezer and Green Day on the Hella Mega Tour the previous summer, the question was less “if” and more “when and with who?” Of the handful of names being thrown around via Twitter comments, cramming mismatched puzzle pieces together and connecting disconnected dots, the first mentions of Bring Me the Horizon seemed like the wildest yet. But as all-but-officially-confirmed confirmations started popping up – a screenshot of a venue leak here, a deleted ticket link there, what seemed like a mad lib lineup soon had a chance to be the crossover tour of the summer.
The official announcement came at the end of the month and a few dates jumped off the page instantly. Early August in New York and at Fenway Park felt like poetic justice, with Fall Out Boy being forced to drop off from those cities’ shows during Hella Mega due to COVID almost exactly two years earlier. Before the make-up* shows, opening night at Chicago’s Wrigley Field with support from Alkaline Trio and The Academy Is… was a three-pronged homecoming that looked too good to pass up. So we didn’t. As soon as the posts went up, we started to get details nailed down. After Chicago, there would be just north of a month before it routed back east, and we’d finish off with Forest Hills, Fenway, Darien Lake, and a double-dose of New Jersey to finish things off.
At the time, there was the standard excitement of just having something fun to look forward to.
But after the first night, we learned we were in for a treat.
Fall Out Boy were going to show everyone that they are as good as they’ve ever been, as good as they’ve always been, by doing what they always do and doing what they’ve never done.
I felt you at the beginning …
Night One – Wrigley Field; Chicago, Illinois.
Three months after its release, So Much (for) Stardust is being regarded as the best Fall Out Boy since the end of the hiatus, with [valid] arguments being made that it’s their best since Cork Tree. A trio of knockout lead singles – the aforementioned leader “Love From the Other Side,” followed by “Heartbreak Feels So Good” and “Hold Me Like a Grudge” – have helped satiate not only the lifelong fans’ for consistency while stylistically picking up where Folie left off, but also provided mainstream success without being another radio rock arena anthem. (Nothing against “Centuries” or “Champion,” but I’m sure I speak for plenty of fans when I say I don’t think they crack my Top 20.)
And in that time, the thrill of Stardust’s Wrigley Field debut grew as well.
As we walked the streets towards the stadium, every block closer buzzed heavier and heavier. The crowd grew tighter, any businesses and restaurants and bars with street-facing windows had speakers playing music, the marquee welcomed the bands home – the city was as ready as the fans.
Knowing ahead of time that we were doing multiple nights on this tour, we didn’t see the need to spend the extra money on any of the VIP packages or upgrades at each one, but we did want to do at least one just to see what would be included, so we chose Wrigley night. We checked in, got our bags, grabbed some merch, and checked out our haul. A hotel room keychain, a sunglasses pouch, an over-the-shoulder bag, and a … Magic 8 Ball? Hm. Kind of weird but hey, they’ve always been kind of weird. It’s a cute toy and a fun souvenir, so whatever.
The Academy Is… and Alkaline Trio were one-off acts strictly for the Chicago show, but opener Royal & the Serpent would spend the summer as support. Admittedly, I had only heard of her briefly before this from her feature on Demi Lovato’s recent album, so I didn’t know quite what to expect. Her first set of the tour was good and did exactly what you’d want from an opening act – her energy was high, her presence was erratic and exciting, and she commanded the portion of the crowd that came out early and was able to see her. Based on how later crowds will react near the end, this was only a glimpse of not only what was to come on this tour, but what’s to come for Royal in general.
After seeing The Academy Is… sound as pitch perfect as always for the first time in over a decade, and not since the summer they toured with KISS (which, I still need to know who worked that pairing out and why that pairing worked!?), Alkaline Trio played what was “a dream come true” show for them. Within a week of Joe Trohman announcing his return to Fall Out Boy, Derek Grant stepped away from his role in Alkaline Trio. As a diehard fan for more of my life than not, it was a gut punch, but one that was completely understandable and fully supported by the entire fanbase. Thankfully, Atom Willard soon filled in behind the kit, and what a way to be brought in. Maybe it was the hype of where we were, maybe it was because my last two shows had gotten canceled, maybe it was a little bit of both, but after 10+ Trio shows, it was their best by a landslide. During Fall Out Boy’s set later on, Pete Wentz stopped to thank the other acts for being there, taking extra time to acknowledge the importance of Alkaline Trio in Fall Out Boy’s formation, to the Chicago scene, and to punk rock as a whole. Obviously it was Fall Out Boy’s tour, so it wasn’t necessarily their moment, but it felt incredible and validating to see Trio given their dues on the biggest stage their city could offer.
Before we knew that it was their cover, Fall Out Boy’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” blared through the PA system moments before Ethan Hawke’s “The Pink Seashell” monologue brought the lights up and ushered the band onto the stage. “Love From the Other Side” was the clear-cut choice to open each night’s setlist, helped by a healthy dose of fireworks. “The Phoenix” would follow, with Wentz swapping in his flamethrower bass while towers of fire shot off throughout the chorus.
Theatrics are nothing new for Fall Out Boy, so following “A Little Less Sixteen Candles…,” the stage lights would dim, the stage monitors showed an animation of broken clocks spinning in reverse, and an overhead voice would mention that even though you saved rock and roll and that believers never die, you can’t forget where you left the light on.
Now bathed in a shade of blue light calling back to the Take This to Your Grave era, the overhead lighting rig was lowered and the mic stands were moved in to show where they started off compared to where they’ve made it to.
After knocking out some of their biggest songs within the first third of the setlist – “Sugar, We’re Going Down,” “Uma Thurman,” “Grand Theft Autumn,” and “This Ain’t A Scene” all within the first eight – there was a bit of a sense of wondering where else there would be to go. Of course “Saturday” would close things out and “Dance, Dance” would be played at some point, but what are we filling the rest of the set with?
And that’s when it started to become clear that this was going to be a special tour.
New Stardust tracks became set staples, while Infinity On High and Folie à Deux surprisingly shouldered the weight of a decent amount of the tracklist, with anywhere from 3-6 songs a night.
For as widely varied as the two albums were received, both critically and within the fanbase, and knowing the disappointment that this brought the members, it was a welcome surprise to see these songs getting a second life.
An acoustic rendition of “Fake Out,” backdropped by a stage-wide owl-faced tree, tied into a solo piano/acoustic medley performed by Patrick Stump each night, who as the tour progressed would welcome whatever song he was challenged by Wentz to perform.
Wrigley’s medley contained a cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” into “Last of the Real Ones,” which was MANIA’s only blip of the night.
A few songs later, around midway through “Hold Me Like a Grudge,” the circular monitor above center stage began showing the half-smile/yin-yang logo, alternating back and forth between the two images and an animation of a Magic 8 Ball.
As “Grudge” closed, a spotlight hit Wentz on stage right and he stared up at the screen.
He introduced what in the coming weeks would become “the Magic 8 Ball portion of the evening,” a force that could not be bartered with, bargained with, and never lies.
Continuing with the bit, he asked if they should just call it an evening, to which is said to ask again. He asked if they should play an old one they’ve never played before and the crowd nervously roared. Knowing there were only a handful of old ones they had never played, these always seemed more like urban legends than deep cuts.
Until a few seconds later, after an agonizing pause of anticipation, the opening notes to “G.I.N.A.S.F.S.” tore through a crowd for the very first time.
At the time, we guessed maybe they were just doing something special for the night, playing a song they had never done for their home crowd to cap off a storybook evening. Over the course of the next month and a half, each night was a new adventure, whether it was getting to experience the final few in person or fiendishly refreshing Twitter to see what every new 8 Ball brought.
Twin Skeletons – Forest Hills & Fenway Park:
By the time Tourdust made its way back to the east coast, the reputation it was building had already found itself here. Like I had mentioned earlier, it was more than just their best tour yet, there was just something different about this one. Sometimes things can feel like fan service, but this felt like a tour for the fans.
Following along every night not only helped build the excitement of getting back to the shows, but also as we drew closer and closer, a bit of relief came with the end of each night. Up to this point, with the Magic 8 Ball segment, there hadn’t been any repeated songs. So with the assumption that there would continue to be a new one, having a wishlist of ones that still hadn’t shown up yet seemed safer and more promising as the tour progressed. Along with the potential that the 8 Ball brought (Forest Hills receiving the debut of “I Am My Own Muse”), Stump’s nightly piano segment also started including more and more song choices. For Forest Hills, a brief snippet of “What A Catch, Donnie” blended into a combination of “Stereo Hearts” followed by “Cupid’s Chokehold,” with Gym Class Heroes’ Travis McCoy sneaking his way on stage to perform. The crowd erupted, the bleachers shook, and the internet rejoiced at the reunion.
Oh, and without getting too far ahead, Bring Me the Horizon had also joined by this point.
Almost forgot to mention that part where one of the other biggest bands in the world was a supporting act on the tour.
During the tour announcement, I’m sure to some seeing the pairing on paper looked like a mistake. As a fan of both, it seemed too good to be true. With Fall Out Boy’s hardcore roots and Bring Me the Horizon’s development into a cleaner sound with their recent releases, there was more middle ground there than some may have assumed.
That said, there was nothing soft or watered down with Bring Me the Horizon. Old purists may hate the newer work, claiming that shit’s not heavy metal, but the Sheffield five-piece is as commanding, demanding, aggressive, and impressive as they’ve ever been.
Opening with “AmEN!” to start each show, they made a statement that this wasn’t going to be a night of ballads and soft songs just to take things easy.
Oli Sykes’ recent issues regarding his screaming abilities seem all but resolved, adding and extending guttural growls whenever possible. Obviously I didn’t expect something like “Chelsea Smile” to make the cut for the setlist, but seeing a mosh pit form for “Happy Song”and “Shadow Moses” each show was a welcomed surprise. Fall Out Boy may have been the headliner for the tour, but Bring Me the Horizon brought just as many of their fans along for the ride.
Regardless of what would technically be considered second-billing, Bring Me the Horizon have long since solidified themselves as one of the premier rock acts around and are rightfully included in the conversation of the best, biggest, and boldest bands in the world.
If you reversed the roles, with Bring Me the Horizon headlining and support from Fall Out Boy, I honestly believe you still would have filled every seat. Seeing either act at their peak like this was worth the cost of the ticket, but getting them both and getting them together was incredible. Maybe a bit of a gamble but man, we hit the jackpot with this combination.
Heading up from Queens to Boston, we were on our way from one city given their redo to another. Following their cancellation two years earlier, there was a sense that Boston would be treated to a little extra this time around; a little silver lining to the black cloud.
Like Chicago, with a local band hopping on, Royal & the Serpent were relegated to opening act for the evening. But on the biggest stage remaining and the grandest since Wrigley, she stepped up and knocked this one into the grandstands.
Back in June I had vaguely heard of the name, but after a few shows, songs started sounding more familiar and you started to notice a little bit more of the crowd arriving a little earlier every day. “ONE NATION UNDERDOGS” is an instant crowd pleaser, “SLUG” is a flexed middle finger to an undeserving ex, and a cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” into “overwhelmed” to close out brought anyone left sitting to their feet.
I may have gone into the shows undecided, but after a handful of opportunities getting to watch them and seeing them step it up even further here, they’re the real deal and I’m all in. rats or die.
Added on for the evening were Worcester’s Four Year Strong. Warped Tour staples and local veterans, FYS are a band that seem to have always been around; I’ve known of them for years, seen them a handful times, and always walked away impressed.
It feels sort of hollow to not have a lot to say about the set, but it would be insincere to try and fluff something up here. I’ll make it a point to say that they were very good, not to take away from them in the slightest. They sounded great, they were turned up to 11 the entire time, and clusters of diehards screamed every word. But comparing the Chicago show with the Fenway show – the two biggest shows of the tour, with local acts opening at their hometown ballpark – it’s tough to measure Four Year Strong to Boston against what Alkaline Trio are to Chicago. Maybe that’s my own fault for reflexively connecting the two when they don’t need to be, but it seemed like it was billed that way for that reason, so it was unavoidable to a certain degree.
Either way, I think this one just wasn’t for me, and that’s totally fine. Because the fans who did connect with it got something for them and you could see it hit.
Following the standard format of the setlist, the first surprise of Fall Out Boy’s set came after the smoke cleared from “Heaven, Iowa.” The stage lights flashed green and white and the band dropped into the instrumental opening to Dropkick Murphy’s “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” before transitioning into “Bang the Doldrums.” More surprising than the Dropkick song itself was how well it worked with “Doldrums,” and maybe leant some credence to the joke in the fanbase that it was sometimes called Fall Out Boy’s sea shanty song.
Going into the night, it was all but expected for them to perform “Sweet Caroline” during Stump’s piano medley, which they did. What was not expected, however, was the live debut of “w.a.m.s.” to precede it.
Lastly, to make amends for the prior cancellation, Boston was awarded two Magic 8 Ball songs – “XO” for the first time since 2007, and another rare performance of “G.I.N.A.S.F.S.”
Darien Lake – Only breathing with the aid of denial:
As a fan for twenty years, “You’re Crashing, But You’re No Wave” has been my favorite Fall Out Boy song for fifteen of them. Every time they would tour, I would go with the small glimmer of hope that maybe tonight would be the night it finally gets played, and every night it wouldn’t. With each new album, more songs would fill the finite place of a nightly setlist. After a while, I grew nervous that maybe it would never get played, and I accepted it.
Then Tourdust arrived, and we realized after Chicago that the 8 Ball would be something different every night, and an entirely new fear became very possible – rather than it never getting played live, after years of hoping, there was a very real chance that it would only happen once and it would be a night that I wasn’t there.
I knew we’d be at the final five shows, we just needed to make it there and we could have a chance.
The Southwest came and went, we survived the Midwest, the coastal run down south and a night in Toronto were our last hurdles and we cleared them. And now, if it was going to eventually happen, I’d see it happen.
Now, this is a lot of build up for something that clearly is about to happen, but they dragged it out for fifteen years.
As always, a spotlight turned on, aimed downstage at Pete, and he gave us the rules; “fortunes are made, lives are ruined, we’ll see how it goes. It cannot be bartered with, cannot be intimidated, and most importantly, it never lies. So, the question is, would we really rely the fate of the set on this children’s toy from the ‘80s?”
“Concentrate and ask again,” the screen read.
“Or s this just some dumb fucking gag?”
“My reply is no.”
“Is it true … that you’re crashing, but you’re no wave?”
“Without a doubt.”
This is a lot of words for me to still say that I don’t have the words to describe it, but the best I can do is that it has been a week and it still gives me goosebumps. To put it into perspective a bit, Stump began his piano medley with the first performance of “Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying” since 2006 and it still barely registered. Infinity On High itself was a divisive record, and their courtroom drama ballad probably wasn’t one that many people have been clamoring for. But things come together sometimes and all of that time waiting was more than worth it.
… but needed you at the end.
Holmdel & Camden:
If there was one downside to this tour, I will say there were things missing. Oddly, huge singles like “I Don’t Care” and “America’s Suitehearts” weren’t utilized, with one combined play. “So Much for Stardust” never made an appearance on a tour that shared its name. And after “The Last of the Real Ones” fell out of the piano medley, you could have dropped the A and N from MANIA, because it was completely M.I.A. from then on.
But mostly, it would be that at times the night would seem like the Pete & Patrick Show. Between Stump’s nightly standup routines and solo medley, Wentz’s spoken interludes, and an actual disappearing act, to a degree it was.
Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley are far from being forgotten about or neglected, but past tours featured extended guitar solos from Trohman or dueling drum-offs between Stump and Hurley, so it was a little bit of a letdown to not see them have their individual moments.
However, even without being given a spotlight at center stage, both found plenty of opportunity to shine through.
After the spoken word “Baby Annihilation,” Wentz would drop behind a curtain and the three remaining members would play a cover of either “Crazy Train” or “Enter Sandman,” letting Hurley and Trohman show off their metal capabilities.
In Holmdel specifically, with the debut of “Bob Dylan” followed by “I Am My Own Muse,” Trohman was given his moment. A b-side that didn’t make the final cut for American Beauty/American Psycho, “Bob Dylan” was finally revisited at Trohman’s insistence and made its way onto Believers Never Die Volume Two. Both are guitar-heavy, and the former only saw the light of day because of his outspokenness about it.
For Hurley, it was less that he got to debut a deep cut track and more, for me, that he is so consistently flawless that anything out of the ordinary stands out.
The closing nights, on a handful of songs, Hurley added a small change here and there. A small fill during “Centuries,” double-pedal during “Thks fr th Mmrs,” tiny subtle additions that his constant perfection made seem enormous. It was just enough to mix things up and never became distracting.
On the final night, a sold out amphitheater in Camden was treated to The Holy Grail.
Wentz talked about being a collector, saying how some collections have that one item, that one pursued addition that might not even exist, a “1-of-1.”
“Should we play the fucking Holy Grail?”
“Without a doubt.”
The lights faded and the building fell quiet. They’re not actually going to- … they wouldn’t, it’s not … maybe? And then they did. Stump clapped along and his “oh-oh” chant echoed off the walls; it’s 2023 and Fall Out Boy are playing “Pavlove” live. A song that has been fanbase lore at times, only heard through recorded rips or YouTube clips, a song that has never been on a streaming service, was being proven real. A second 8 Ball followed, “27,” a song that they had always considered one that they’d never play, was making yet another appearance. Then a third, “G.I.N.A.S.F.S.” again, another treasure hunt track turning into a setlist regular.
If there was any way to summarize not only So Much for (Tour) Dust, but the current state of Fall Out Boy, it was those fifteen minutes in Camden.
New songs were sung like old classics. Forgotten songs were brought to the forefront. Tracks that almost killed the band were given a second life.
I think part of that comes from the fans growing, giving things a second chance, appreciating things they may have written off. Every night, every timeline refreshed for an 8 Ball update. Fans lined up outside the gates for hours, meeting each other, talking about what songs they were hoping for, swapping bracelets and stories. Not only were they some of the best shows I’d ever seen, they were some of the best fan experiences I’ve ever had.
And I also think part of it is from the growth of Fall Out Boy in their own right. Whether it was received how they had wanted or not, it was work they were proud of. And it took guts to bring these songs back with such force, but more than that, it took faith in the fans. And to reward us for that, they gave us the best tour they’ve ever put together, having the most fun they’ve had along the way.
There’s a European leg of the tour coming up in the fall, potentially live footage being released at some point, and rumors have already started flying about a second North American leg next summer.
If we’re lucky enough to get another, I’ll be back in a heartbeat.
But for now, my body is sore and my iCloud has been full for two weeks and my car needs an oil change, so I’m going to take care of that and appreciate everything they gave us this time around.
*all nights followed the same setlist except for randomized Magic 8 Ball and noted changes*
Love From the Other Side
Sugar, We’re Goin Down
A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More “Touch Me”
*CHI, FH, DL: Chicago Is So Two Years Ago / BOS, NJ1, NJ2: Dead On Arrival
Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy
Calm Before the Storm
This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race
Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes
*CHI, DL: The Take Over, the Breaks Over / FH: 7 Minutes in Heaven / BOS: I’m Shipping Up to Boston, Bang the Doldrums / NJ1: Bang the Doldrums / NJ2: Hum Hallelujah
Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet
*CHI: Don’t Stop Believin’, The Last of the Real Ones / FH: What A Catch, Donnie, Just One Yesterday, Stereo Hearts, Cupid’s Chokehold (with Travis McCoy) / BOS: w.a.m.s., Sweet Caroline / DL: Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying, Golden, Don’t Stop Believin’ / NJ1: I’ve Got a Dark Alley and a Bad Idea, What a Catch, Donnie, Don’t Stop Believin’ / NJ2: Jet Pack Blues, I’ve Got a Dark Alley and a Bad Idea, Golden, Don’t Stop Believin’
Save Rock and Roll
*CHI: Crazy Train / FH, DL, BOS, NJ1, NJ2: Enter Sandman
Hold Me Like a Grudge
*Magic 8 Ball:
FH: I Am My Own Muse, 27
BOS: XO, G.I.N.A.S.F.S.
DL: You’re Crashing, But You’re No Wave, 27
NJ1: Bob Dylan, I Am My Own Muse
NJ2: Pavlove, 27, G.I.N.A.S.F.S.
My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)
Thnks fr th Mmrs