Words by Shelley Te Haara
Photography by Chony Musson

As I arrived at Trusts Arena, the line of eager fans had extended down the road and across the bridge. The sky is dark and the rain starts to fall, causing the crowd to scramble around, trying to keep themselves as dry as possible. By the time I entered the arena, the floor was already half full and people were still filing in behind me.

It wasn’t long before the lights went out, and a snippet of intro music played as Auckland based Openside took to the stage. The stage was flooded in red lighting. Garish to the point that you don’t even want to look at the stage. The public were still coming in the doors as Openside treated the crowd to some new music, during which the band’s guitarist, PJ Shepherd slipped over. It could have been an awkward moment, but he handled it well by lying where he fell and played more before getting back up.

“Hey how are you? If it’s okay with you we’re going to play some more new songs”, vocalist Possum Plows says to the crowd. Of course it was okay, and after treating us to these new songs, the band started to play something that more of the crowd were familiar with, one of their very first singles Worth It. The song was received well, despite the presence of some technical issues that caused the sound to be out of time for a few seconds. PJ and drummer George Powell seemed to be putting all of their energy into their performance while bassist Harry Carter moved around the stage a bit, seeming fairly disinterested. Possum was moving and feeling the music with the occasional flare of energy throughout the set.

The crowd towards the back of the arena felt flat during Openside, and I didn’t know it at the time, but this lack of energy would continue on into the night.

The lights came up and the brightness encouraged people to quickly scramble to replenish themselves before Fall Out Boy took to the stage.

Then before you knew it, the packed out room went completely black. A backing screen came on to show wavy water and a countdown started running down over the top, with the crowd counting down with it. “3, 2, 1”. As it reached 1, a message appeared telling the crowd to put their phones away but as well all know it’s the 21st century and there were phones out regardless.  The band seemed to anticipate this defiance, however, as when the lights came on and Fall Out Boy took the stage they seemed to try to combat people filming with crazy lighting that most low grade phones couldn’t capture. This continued throughout the night, making it seem as though this may have been the aim of the lighting design.

The band kicked off their set with The Phoenix which saw car racing graphics appear on the screen behind them. At this point, the band and crowd had high levels of energy and the band seemed to be giving it their all. Though I was soon to see that it wouldn’t last long.

Each song had a different set of graphics, though that was the only extra element the band had with the performance. Sadly, as is often the case in New Zealand, we missed out on the pyro and confetti that Australia were treated to, and the show was significantly smaller compared to in the US. But if you hadn’t seen a Fall Out Boy show before, the screen was good enough. Before diving into Sugar, We’re Goin Down bassist/backing vocalist Pete Wentz spoke to the crowd: “What’s up Auckland! We’re Fall Out Boy”. Aside from this small interaction, Fall Out Boy seemed to pump out the songs one after the other and the energy that was there at the start seemed to die after a few songs, leaving me to  wonder if they only went hard while the photographers were there. However, lead vocalist Patrick Stump and drummer Andy Hurley seemed to keep their energy up, and I found myself watching him most of the night. Aside from the front half of the crowd that was clearly made up of die-hard fans, they seemed rather stationary.

At this point, Pete took the opportunity to speak to the crowd again, as usual bringing up unusual topics, this time discussing dioramas in museums, saying they used to be dangerous and now they’re stationary. He then asked if we had wilderbeasts here in NZ at which point Patrick butted in with, “American ignorance” before Pete finished off the interaction with, “Stay divergent. Think dangerously. Stay Frosty”. Naturally, they dived into Stay Frosty, the first song on the setlist taken from their new album Mania. After playing Centuries, Patrick took a seat at the piano to play one of my favourite tracks Save Rock n Roll before the lights died and Pete addressed the crowd again.

As always, it seemed Pete would be doing the talking for the majority of the show, and this time he told the story of how the first New Zealander he met was crazy and he met him crowdsurfing. Pete asked him where he was from to which he replied, “I’m a kiwi mate”, and so the next track, Last of the Real Ones, was dedicated to that very same Kiwi. Following this, Fall Out Boy played their first single off Mania, Young & Menace, but unlike the recorded version, this was played acoustically at the piano. The crowd took the opportunity to hold up their phone lights, the majority of which were purple as a result of the fans utilising the little purple cut outs that were handed out at the beginning of the show with strict instructions to hold this up in front of their phone lights during Young & Menace. I don’t know if it had the effect it was meant to have but it was definitely an interesting addition to the performance.

Then, the lights went out and a spotlight focused on Andy as he played a drum solo which was a mash up of a number of tracks including Humble by Kendrick Lamar. I found this to be one of my favourite parts of the set. Suddenly my eyes were drawn to the back of the room by the sound desk and a large curtain tube that connected from the roof to the floor appeared. It was light in purple and no one seemed to know what was going to happen. I thought the band hand moved there but it was just Pete Wentz who, for some reason, had ear muffs on and a yellow fluoro security vest. The rest of the band took the stage at the front as they broke into Dance, Dance – a certain fan favourite.

When Pete returned to the stage he told the crowd – much to their delight – that “New Zealand is one of our favourite islands” and then dived into another new track Wilson. Following this, the room went black again and the screen started to display footage of backstage where the band were interacting with Llamas. They were talking about the show, before large llamas took the stage and threw out white bundles that appeared to be t-shirts. After the frenzy at the front of the venue calmed, the band returned to the stage and carried on playing.

Sadly, I couldn’t help but notice that Pete looked bored for most of the show, and it was also clear that the crowd was definitely into the older music. This is unsurprising though as I think that is what most of the older crowd who hung towards the back were here for too. Suddenly it was that time of the set where Pete told the crowd they had 1 more song before playing Champion. The room went dark and it was clear that it was going to be one of those encore situations where the band walk off then come back on shortly after and they did just that after the crowd erupted in a “we want more” chant.

Fall Out Boy dove straight into Thriller. Pete then asked the crowd to “make some noise for Openside!” which was well received by the crowd and the band themselves. After playing Uma Thurman, which had some incredible background visuals of Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, Pete grabbed an NZ flag. Fall Out Boy came together on their knees in front of the crowd and their tour photographer, Elliott Ingham, took a photo of the band with the crowd.

After playing My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark, they closed the show with Saturday. Fall Out Boy thanked the crowd and left the stage to leave the fans to slowly pour out of the arena and make their way home.

FALL OUT BOY
OPENSIDE

 

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