It’s the mid noughties; Paramore, My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy are scene royalty, their live shows make for some of the hottest tickets in town, and kids everywhere in tear-smudged eyeliner are almost wetting themselves in excitement over the chance to see their idols in the flesh.
While such a vista may seem familiar to those who experienced the initial emo boom of the early millennium, in recent years, time has begun to repeat itself, with festivals like When We Were Young and the new albums (and reunions) of those aforementioned scene linchpins reminding us all of the genre’s irremovable place in fan’s hearts.
Fall Out Boy’s surprise intimate booking at London’s iconic venue Heaven has proved to inspire a similar reaction. With tickets speedily selling out, hopeful (and some desperate) fans have flocked to the streets, holding up scraps of cardboard, offering to pay great sums of money for a spare ticket. Meanwhile, there’s a lengthy queue snaking its way up the road for many hours.
Late stragglers fail to get anywhere close to the stage, bollard-ed by tightly-packed bodies crowded in the small space of Heaven’s underground chamber, left to nuzzle their noses over shoulders while stuck squeezing through the room’s adjacent tunnels.
With scene chums Paramore further distancing themselves from their roots on their latest record This Is Why, Fall Out Boy’s newest singles come across like a tribute to the sound that made them emo champions. For their forthcoming eighth studio album, So Much (For) Stardust, they’ve even re-recruited producer Neal Avron, who was responsible for iconic albums such as From Under The Cork Tree, Infinity On High and Folie à Deux.
Tonight then, promises to be a straight-up emo pop-punk party, seemingly a golden ticket that even Willy Wonka himself would be reluctant to part with. And if there is any doubt that the Chicago rockers (comprised of vocalist Patrick Stump, bassist Pete Wentz, drummer Andy Hurley, minus the currently-absent guitarist Joe Trohman) might fail to live up to the buzz, it’s immediately squashed as they practically somersault into new single Love From The Other Side.
Frenetic, hyperactive and propelled by quick-fire lyrics, the track is instantly met by a crowd who bounce together in one giant mass, and it’s simply chaos. Fortunately, Heaven’s antiquated brick ceilings seem sturdy, as the chorus’ rhythm section continues to mimic a relentless thunder that’s as rigorous as a repeated heavy-handed smack; it’s as though the room could cave in at any moment.
This vigour hardly dissipates across the evening, either; Wentz even ushers the audience to ‘step back’ and reshuffle themselves at multiple points, making sure that things don’t totally spiral out of control. It’s difficult to contain the madness, however, when the band pump out OG classics such as Dance Dance, This Ain’t A Scene It's An Arms Race, Sugar We’re Goin Down, Thnks fr th Mmrs and A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More "Touch Me". Fans are frenzied, fizzing and even moshing together like a stack of mentos dropped inside a Coke bottle, as they sing along line-for-line and continually erupt into chaotic boogies.
“In rooms like this we fucking exist,” declares Wentz at one moment, following a short speech about how our existence can at times feel overshadowed by the world’s gloominess. His statement feels right as frontman Stump struts across the stage, singing in his faultless timbre to songs that have a way of bringing everyone together. Their newest offerings, such as Heartbreak Feels So Good, ignite a similar effect, and already feel right at home when played next to such brilliantly well-worn emo tunes. Their later, B-list bangers, such as Centuries and Uma Thurman, while arguably not as timeless as the rest, nicely fill the gaps, as their dance-inducing peppiness ignites a further rush, with the band bouncing and swirling around on the stage like a basket of bunnies.
Venue limitations aside, Fall Out Boy’s descent onto Heaven is a marvellously-executed euphoric success, and a clear indication of their immense power as true emo icons. Now it's just time to wait for that new album.
So Much (for) Stardust is due out on March 24.
Fall Out Boy @ Heaven (March 16) setlist
Love From the Other Side
Sugar, We're Goin Down
The Pink Seashells
Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes
Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy
Chicago Is So Two Years Ago
A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More "Touch Me"
This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race
Calm Before the Storm
My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)
Heartbreak Feels So Good
Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet
Thnks fr th Mmrs