Cuyahoga Falls’ Blossom Music Center: home of the Cleveland Orchestra. Or in this case, home to a rockin’ show specifically tailored to teens and tweens. Young girls clad in skinny jeans, rocking shaggy hair and heavy eyeliner, turned out in droves to support their EMO heroes. Alcohol and cigarettes were scarce; parents were in abundance. The PG show turned out much heavier than anyone would have anticipated.
Cobra Starship kicked off the night and quickly set the evening’s tone. Their raucous party anthems got the crowd on their feet immediately. The dancy, fun sound of their music translates better live than it does on disc. Frontman Gabe Saporta kept the
crowd alive with his spontaneous dancing and energetic presence. Cobra Starship even has their own ‘gang sign’ that their fans throw. In between songs I was introduced to ‘throwing your fangs up,’ where the fans all make the same hand gesture that looks like a pair of fangs. I wasn’t even put off by the presence of a keytar in their set because it fit with their high energy party anthem theme. The last song of the set was their hit “Snakes On A Plane” from the film of the same name. Like the rest of the set, it sounded ten times better live.
Paul Wall, playing hip-hop, did not fare well in the aftermath of Cobra Starship. This crowd was not into hip-hop and certainly very few people in attendance actually came out to see Paul. His performance was tepid at best and not well received. Everyone in the crowd must have heard his duet with Brooke Hogan and pre-judged his poppy chops.
The Academy Is… got the fans back on their feet. The sound of this band is the polar opposite of opener Cobra Starship. They sound better on disc than they do live. Their performance was musically solid, but unremarkable. The vocals were turned down too low and distorted, so the words were unintelligible. The crooning here was average at best, and few of the songs stood out as unique. This did not stop the crowd of rabid fans from creating a ruckus and having a good time. The best moment of the evening came with the ballad “Everything We Have,” which finally showcased frontman William Beckett’s vocal ability. Their set would have benefited from a few more ballads.
And now, the moment all the kids had been waiting for… Fall Out Boy! The band catapulted out from underneath the stage and the crowd went wild. Unlike their predecessors, Fall Out Boy’s vocals were on point. Patrick Stump’s voice could be heard loud and clear, no matter how hard the band jammed behind him. On disc, Fall Out Boy sounds rather poppy. Live, however, they sound much harder. As fun as it is to hate the band, it’s hard to bash their poppy and sometimes wimpy sound after seeing them live. With guitar and drums mic’ed up, their sound is almost twice as heavy. This was a pleasant and welcomed surprise. Bassist and media idol Pete Wentz acted as the default frontman, doing most of the talking between songs. The band treated fans to excellent versions of their favorites, such as “This Ain’t A Scene…” and “Dance Dance” with a dazzling array of visual effects and huge video screens, ensuring nobody would miss a single smile from the band’s poster boy, Pete Wentz. Fall Out Boy’s true charm really comes out in their live shows. Solidly crafted, catchy, and intense.