Fire, flapping farm animals and gender reveals: Fall Out Boy get weird at Download Festival with their career-spanning, ridiculously fun headline set

Emo reigns supreme at Download Festival as Fall Out Boy travel the ages for their career-spanning Saturday set

Pete Wentz at Download
(Image: © James Bridle)

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

When Fall Out Boy were first revealed as the Saturday night headliners for this year’s Download festival, some fans were quick to air their disapproval over the idea of an emo band topping the bill at an event historically reserved for the biggest legacy acts in heavy metal. But as the Metallicas and Iron Maidens of the world head ever further into their twilight years, the question of who will follow in their footsteps as the next generation of headliners becomes an increasingly pressing problem to solve. 

In 2023, Bring Me The Horizon cemented themselves as the perfect replacements, producing a groundbreaking set that served as a weekend highlight for many. Whether Fall Out Boy could follow suit, however - especially as an outfit far lighter than their metal festival predecessors - was a prospect of considerable doubt, and one not lost on the band themselves, with Pete Wentz revealing during the set that he believes Metallica’s 2006 legendary performance was everything that a headliner at Donington Park should be.

In hope of stepping up to the plate, the bassist shares their game-plan: bring “everything” to the table and deliver the “biggest art project we could ever make”. Fortunately for them (and the perhaps dubious crowd), their scheme is a gloriously weird, wild and wonderful success, starting with frontman Patrick Stump’s bizarre arrival, wheeled on stage in a hospital bed and gown while singing the intro to Disloyal Order Of Water Buffaloes, donning his iconic, 2003-era hat. For the official opener, FOB dive into a number of tracks from their 2005 album From Under The Cork Tree, including A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More "Touch Me”, as well as ultimate emo anthems Dance, Dance and Sugar We’re Going Down. It’s a joyous, nostalgia-flushed start, as the screen transitions through old footage of the band in their baby-faced years, and as the crowd sing along to the songs that have soundtracked their childhoods, emo karaoke sessions and rock club night outings.

Next, as they continue to whip out the big hitters with fan favourites from Infinity On High such as This Ain’t A Scene It’s An Arms Race and Thnks Fr The Mmrs, it becomes clear that the band are set upon a career-spanning tracklist, also in more or less chronological order. Familiar motifs from each album cover appear too; a mechanical winged lamb flaps over the stage for Infinity On High, the piggy-backing bear takes shape centre-stage for Folie A Deux, and for So Much (For) Stardust, there’s a giant, sparkling crescent moon. Following hours spent in a stormy downpour, the night offers endless rejuvenating, dopamine zaps with non-stop upbeat, bouncy bangers and wacky moments - during one part, Wentz takes a ride up to the rafters via a bouquet of balloons, elsewhere he accepts a punter’s request to reveal the gender of their baby, asking "Will it be a Fall Out Boy or a Fall Out Girl?". During My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark, he wields a flame-throwing bass, and for the hip-shaking Uma Thurman, hockey-masked cheerleaders writhe their way across the stage.

While perhaps not as jaw-dropping a spectacle as the headliners who have come before, Fall Out Boy give it their best shot, as blasts of smoke, pyro and fireworks shoot out across the night and the band demonstrate just how many big tunes they have. Meanwhile, Stump and Wentz are an adorable duo, as they trade lyrics and come across like the best of pals, still all these years later. Tracks from last year’s So Much (For) Stardust are arguably just as invigorating as the emo golden oldies, with the spritely Love From The Other Side sparking more singalongs and unsteady hopping in the mud. 

Not only is it all heaps of fun, but there’s an emotional side to it - those who have grown up in the emo scene know just how significant a moment this is for a band like Fall Out Boy. Like their audience, they’ve gotten older, and it’s a celebration of how far we’ve all come together, encapsulated by the finale of Centuries (featuring a time-warping trip on screen through all their different eras).The emo party reaches its end with an explosion of fireworks and a final look back to where it all began, as they finish on their third-ever single, Saturday, lifted from their 2003 debut album Take This To Your Grave. Fall Out Boy may have been an unexpected booking, but one that proves that the future of festival headliners is in safe hands, as emo reigns supreme on unfamiliar grounds and undoubtedly, new fans are momentarily converted to the lighter side.

Fall Out Boy Download 2024 setlist

Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes
Chicago Is So Two Years Ago
Grand Theft Autum/Where Is Your Boy
Sugar, We're Going Down
Dance, Dance
A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More "Touch Me"
Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying
This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race
Bang the Doldrums
Thnks fr th Mmrs
Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes
I Don't Care
The Phoenix
My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)
Uma Thurman
The Kids Aren't Alright
The Last of the Real Ones
What a Catch, Donnie
So Much (for) Stardust
Love From the Other Side
Fake Out

Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.