Thursday, June 7, 2007

Fall Out Boy at the PNC Art Center (Honda Civic Tour)

I did not go out for a ride on Wednesday (it does not look like it is going to happen today either) because I took my daughter and her friends to the Fall Out Boy show at the PNC Art Center in Holmdel, NJ. The show was called the Honda Civic Tour and it packaged several bands together.

The show was opened by Cobra Starship, followed by rapper Paul Wall, The Academy Is, +44 and then Fall Out Boy came out as the headliner. One of the funny things about the show was the that the drum riser got higher as the night progressed. Cobra Starship's drummer was almost flat on the stage. Paul Wall's DJ was a little bit higher. The Academy Is drummer was at the same level as the DJ. Travis Barker of +44 was moved up a level and then the drummer for Fall Out Boy almost out of sight in the rafters of the stage.

Unfortunately, I am not really all that familiar with any of the bands. I know Fall Out Boys' hits and +44 is 2/3 of Blink-182 (I was really looking forward to seeing Travis Barker play) but I had not heard of the other bands. By the time we got to our seats the first band was already on stage. I originally thought they were The Academy Is but I found out it was actually Cobra Starship. I actually knew a couple of their songs (they must get airtime on GROCK) as did a lot of the relatively sparse crowd already in attendence. I was disappointed that we did not get there sooner because they seemed like an interesting band. The lead singer talked to the audience and Paul Wall came out and helped out on one song. They might end up being the next big thing.

I was really not that interested in Paul Wall but my daughter and her friends were. I agreed to go get refreshments and they watched the rapper. As far as I can tell they did enjoy it.

I found out that the first band was not The Academy Is when the The Academy Is banner was flown over the setup of the next band. This Academy Is had a lot of equipment. Two stacks of Marshalls, tow Ampeg SVT stacks and a Vox combo on each side of the stage. I did not know any of the songs and the sound was kind of muddled. The drummer was the loudest thing on stage and it was really hard to hear the other muscians. They seemed to have a lot of energy. There seemed to be a lot of audience members who did know them and their music

I was really looking forward to +44. While I do not think I have heard any of their songs I did know Blink-182. I was really looking forward to seeing Travis Barker play. Blink-182 songs are very high energy with some great hooks so I was expecting the same out of +44. Travis Barker does not disappointment. Mr. Barker plays like Keith Moon on a stripped down custom transparent green drum set. He is definitely the visual presense in the band. Unfortunately, the sound was again very muddled and as much as I appreciated the athletism of Travis Barker's play I was really hoping that the band would have some memorable songs. This was not the case. They might be a great band if they are the headliner but the drumming started to wear thin and I was looking for some of the power punk pop that Blink-182 is famous for.

Finally, the headliners came out. The drummer was also playing a stripped down set up and even though it had a double bass I did not really hear any double bass being played. As with +44 the drummer is the visual center of the performance. In fact every drummer that played during the night was very good (although the drums were way up in the mix).

I had read the Fall Out Boy's set was sloppy but I had also heard that they were also entertaining. I have to say they were both. The bass player and second guitarist (hard to say if he is playing rythym or lead guitar) ran around the stage with boundless energy. The lead singer/guitarist was much more stationary even though he did move around some. The sound was heavy on the drums and the other instruments were hard to differentiate. The vocals sometimes got lost in the mix.

The stage show was typical of big rock and roll shows. Lots of pyro technics, special effects and gimmics. Although one of the gimmics lead to what I consider the musical highlight o f the Fall Out Boy show. The bass player and second guitarist leave the stage through glass enclosures on each side of the stage. This leaves just the lead singer/guitarist and the drummer playing on stage. It became obvious that these two were the strongest musicians and this was my favorite song of the show. It is on this song that you can here the guitar work and the drummer is not over powering the song. Eventually the other two showed up in the center of the audience and the band went back to being a four piece.

The drummer solo was another highlight. I can really appreciate drum solos when they are well thought out and not too long. This one was both.

While this is not a show I would have gone to on my own I did enjoy it. I know that these kind of shows are more about entertainment than the music. It might be worth seeing one of the other bands in a headlining situation.

Tool and Rush are playing the PNC over the summer. I would like to go to both but I am not sure if the experience would be much better than listening to either on my iPod while I work out. I guess I am just getting old.

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