Older Cousin takes younger cousin to a formative concert, finds screaming tweens and (poorly concealed) receding hairlines.

Fall Out Boy: The M A N I A Tour – TD Garden, Boston MA – October 27, 2017

When in the course of human events an older cousin is called upon to accompany his cousinette to the local Fall Out Boy gig, family harmony demands he do so and fully hide his trepidation. Cousinette, after all, is a mere thirteen years old and jaded, grumpy Older Cousin would not dream of pulling the rock and roll rug from beneath her heroes. He can however hope that they trip over it on their own accord. Which they mostly do.

Older Cousin can count on two hands the number of acts he’s seen in a giant arena and he’s not entirely proud them all – Charlie Daniels Band? Really? That’s $18.50 I’d sure like to have back. Nonetheless, there’s a visceral thrill to be felt at TD North (read – Boston) Garden while surrounded by hyper-excited youngsters, many of whom are attending their first ever rock and roll show. When the lights go down for the first time, the screams are reminiscent of an early Beatles gig. Except that the Beatles were good.

Opener blackbear (sic) proved an overly processed cheese food: 21st century blue-eyed soul/fake bad-boy hip-hop which, in his most memorable number, had him repeatedly chanting “l Don’t Fucking Care,” a phrase reserved solely for the workplace and occasionally in the kitchen with loved ones. Silly boy. Spying a number of folks seated, he stated that he had never given a show where people had sat down. This, no doubt, was a result of the audience not fucking caring either.

Piercing screams and flame jets heralded Fall Out Boy as they rose up from below the stage and my first thought at the sight of lead singer Patrick Stump in his plain khaki baseball cap was that he’s hiding a receding hairline. Take it from one who knows, kids. On one hand, Stump’s voice in concert is not nearly as The Darkness-level awful as on record. Similarly, their live act is not so larded down with production tricks or the electronica/hip-hop elements needed to sustain a presence on the charts these days. On the other hand, without all that gimcrackery, the glaring weakness of their songs becomes all the more obvious. The kids eat it up however, capturing on their cell phones additional pyrotechnics, repeated drops of confetti from the rafters, nifty blue lasers and scenes from Big Hero Six which succeeds only in making me want to see Big Hero Six.

A long, narrow stage extension bisects the arena lengthwise making for a lot of pointless running back and forth but allows the band to mysteriously appear at the far end, giving fans in the nosebleed seats a better view. In order for the band to get back to the stage via the underground tunnel, however, time must be killed. How? Stage Assistants firing t-shirt cannons! It’s not a rock and roll concert, it’s the NBA All-Star Game! T-shirt-induced riots avoided, we settle down for a piano ballad which shows Stump’s voice CAN be Darkness-level awful.

To be fair, “Hum Hallelujah” and “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” had me bobbing my head insofar as my fear of aneurysms allows, and “Uma Thurman” – which has the wit to liberally sample the Munsters theme –  was far and away, the highlights of the evening for me. Cousinette? Well, she bonded with a young fan in our row and, when I asked if the show met their expectations, they answered affirmatively then, in unison, “AND MORE!”

So what’s a jaded, grumpy Older Cousin know anyway?