Fall Out Boy || Sending Postcards from a Plane Crash (Wish You Were Here)
Way, way back in 2002 (forever ago in blog years), I was a surly 16-year-old waiting to see some no-name band called Fall Out Boy take the stage at (the now-defunct) Cafe Metropolis in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The venue was a total hole, and I spent my time before the opener in a familiar way: Arms crossed, emotional porcupine, desperately fighting off social anxiety and the burning resentment of being surrounded by seemingly-well-adjusted people who were just out having a good time. You know, a normal weekday night.
Once Fall Out Boy started playing, I forgot about all that weak shit. There just aren’t words to adequately describe how well these guys can work a crowd. Bodies got moving. Pits were moshed. Sweat-slicked eyeliner and greasy black hair dye stained every t-shirt in sight.
And in between each song, Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump traded bon mots and showered everyone in attendance with praise, just for being at the show. “All of this, we do it for our fans” was a common refrain. “You make all this possible,” even moreso. And they made a point to stalk the merch table afterwards, autographing records and doing the aw-shucks thing with any fan who came up to shake their hands or give them a hug.
There’s a real sense of solidarity and togetherness in the pop-punk scene that I’ve yet to see replicated anywhere else. I think it’s especially hard not to form emotional attachments to these types of bands after seeing a spectacular live show, which makes “the scene” a particularly bewildering and alien place for those unfamiliar.
The song I posted today is from their debut studio LP, Take This to Your Grave. This is the early, gritty Fall Out Boy that often gets forgotten for the slickly polished group they became in the albums after. But a decade later, this album still hasn’t lost its sense of urgency, and the hooks will make you want to headbang in the most unlikely of places. (Right now in the newsroom, for instance.)
Take This to Your Grave dropped in 2003 and went certified Gold, but that success was no accident. Major financial backing from a deal with Island Records helped, but the group had already laid the groundwork for their super-fervent fanbase through their hands-on approach to their online messageboards, and unforgettable shows like the one I saw.
If there’s one important thing to keep in mind about Fall Out Boy, it’s this: However you feel about them, their commercial success wasn’t the result of a well-oiled A&R machine, or because their label threw a pile of money at them. They earned every bit of it.