At the beginning of the month at the renowned venue Merriweather Post Pavilion one of the most highly anticipated musical events in the DC area so far this year occurred. On June 4th, 2007, the artists featured in this year’s Honda Civic Tour, an annual tour generally featuring rock-genre bands, performed in Columbia, Maryland. This year’s lineup featured The Academy Is…, Cobra Starship, +44, and Paul Wall, with the headlining act of the recently famed band Fall Out Boy: a diverse artist selection that certainly attracted a diverse, not to mention large, crowd.
As would be expected, an incredible amount of fans and concert attendees arrived early, greatly anticipating that evening’s show. This excitement was somewhat forgotten when the tour buses pulled up, and gaggles of fans also predictably rushed to the gates to screech at those exiting the vans. Mark Hoppus of +44 attracted a lot of screaming and swooning as he appeared from the highly noticeable, cartoon-covered +44 tour bus, although he seemed not to notice, and ignored the excited fans. Paul Wall, however, chose not to ignore the fans as he, a few hours before the show, left the venue, being driven in a car presumably to the hotel the bands were staying at. As fans (mainly girls) surrounded his ride, he waved and, of course, flashed his Ã¢â‚¬Å“grillzÃ¢â‚¬ at those squealing to him. To the fans that were waiting expectantly at the gates where the tour buses were in view, it was a disappointment that no members of Fall Out Boy appeared, although Victoria Asher from Cobra Starship was spotted briefly. Others remained at their places in line, clearly hoping to, when the gates were to open at five, manage to snag the places with the best view. Many a fan was not only sporting band merch, but also maybe a sign or a homemade T-shirt conveying individual messages to Pete Wentz: a tribute to his birthday the following day.
Although perhaps an hour before the show, heavy rain began to soak those waiting for the show who hadn’t brought umbrellas and jackets, and Cobra Starship, who were going to see the fans before the show weren’t able to appear, no one’s spirits were dampened. Maybe that was because around this time, wristbands for the pit and seating were being handed out, and excitement was definitely building.
Finally, at approximately five (the show started early presumably because of the amount of opening artists), the gates opened, and, ignoring the mud and heavy rain, concert attendees streamed inside, racing each other for the most elite spaces. Members of Fall Out Boy’s fan club were allowed in five minutes early, so many front row spaces in the large, maximum-packed pit were already consumed when the majority of the crowd rushed in. Pushing and shoving, after the first few minutes when everyone got settled in the crowd, was not at all a problem; mostly everyone seemed to be practicing concert courtesy, and few moshed throughout the performances (those who caused a fuss being lifted out by concert security). However, crowd surfing, once the performances began, was a definite trend, and few were dropped until they reached the barrier.
It took some time, however, for the first performers to begin, due to the rainwater streaming off the canvas shielding the pit down into the pit and in front of the barrier. Cords and equipment had to be relocated, obviously so the water wouldn’t damage anything or electrocute anyone. Soon enough the rain settled, as did those located on the lawn, and the show began, each artist or band throughout the show being well received.
Opening the show was Cobra Starship, the up and coming band whose musical style has been described by frontman Gabe Saporta as Ã¢â‚¬Å“punk-rock Justin TimberlakeÃ¢â‚¬. Whatever their genre was, the performance of the unique-sounding Cobra Starship was incredibly well liked by the crowd, many of who had never heard the band prior to that evening. Gabe Saporta had great stage presence. His gift for singing and lyric-writing meshes with the unique sound of the very talented instrumentalists (Alex Suarez on bass, Victoria Asher on keytar, Ryland Blackinton on guitar, and Nate Novarro on drums) to create music that, when performed, if this show was any example, triggers a lot of excitement and an equal amount of dancing and singing. The best received and most well known song that Cobra Starship performed was Ã¢â‚¬Å“(Bring It) Snakes on a PlaneÃ¢â‚¬. Something that may have and probably contributed to this was the fact that, during this song, both frontman of The Academy IS… William Beckett (who does vocals for the chorus in this song) and Paul Wall (who filled in for Travie of Gym Class Heroes, who typically does the rapping in Ã¢â‚¬Å“(Bring It) Snakes on a PlaneÃ¢â‚¬) made appearances.
Next in the lineup was rapper Paul Wall, accompanied by another rapper and keyboarder. His performance was probably the least well-received, but that is not in any manner a strike against him, since he was performing in front of an audience with, based on the styles of the majority of the artists they chose to see this evening, more of a rock-genre taste in music. He, like Gabe Saporta, had good stage presence. Members of the audience were certainly pleased when he distributed a number of free grillz.
Paul Wall’s grillz were not the only free merchandise to be distributed. Between performances, various activities occurred onstage, including free clothing and other merchandise being shot at the audience through a large gun-like contraption.
Following Paul Wall was an uprising band from Chicago known as The Academy Is… . William Beckett followed his first brief performance with an equally crowd-satisfying one, his one of a kind voice as pleasing as the sound of the generally mellow instrumentals produced by his equally talented fellow band members. The crowd was especially interested in TAI’s performance of Ã¢â‚¬Å“Slow DownÃ¢â‚¬, Ã¢â‚¬Å“We’ve Got A Big Mess on Our HandsÃ¢â‚¬, and Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Phrase that PaysÃ¢â‚¬Ã¢â‚¬”three popular singles of theirs.
By the time +44 got onstage, the crowd, perhaps growing weary of standing, was beginning to get antsy in anticipation of Fall Out Boy’s performance. However, +44 successfully recaptured the audience’s attention for the time in which they were onstage, playing a number of songs that the crowd both knew and enjoyed. Some numbers that were particularly crowd-pleasing including Ã¢â‚¬Å“Your Heart Stops BeatingÃ¢â‚¬, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Baby Come OnÃ¢â‚¬, and Ã¢â‚¬Å“DammitÃ¢â‚¬. That particular song was not in fact by +44, but by Blink 182, the renowned former band including two of +44’s band members, drummer Travis Barker and frontman Mark Hoppus. Victoria Asher of Cobra Starship made a surprise appearance for the song Ã¢â‚¬Å“Make You SmileÃ¢â‚¬, a popular +44 song including female vocalist Carol Heller, which Asher carried out fantastically.
Although all of the acts prior to the headlining act were very much so enjoyed, many in the audience were in huge anticipation of the appearance and performance of Fall Out Boy. Fans grew impatient at the long stretch of time between +44 and Fall Out Boy’s performances, during which a large structure was being assembled. This mystery structure detailed a tall platform on which Andy Hurley’s drum set was located, and plenty of room for the other band members to stand at different points in the show, with a ramp-like addition stretching down from the platform to the stage (used most often by frontman Patrick Stump). On either side of the construction were two opaque capsule-like structures comprised of what appeared to be a glass-like material. Audience members looked for any visible sign of the band with no luck, and when they finally did appear, their entrance was to everyone’s surpriseÃ¢â‚¬”as, instead of simply walking onstage as one might think they would, Joe Trohman and Pete Wentz literally popped onstage. Patrick Stump and Andy Hurley appeared suddenly as well, although not with as big of a bang as Trohman and WentzÃ¢â‚¬”who burst out of the two capsules and onto the platform, Trohman on the left side of the stage and Wentz on the right.
It is probably needless to say that Fall Out Boy’s performance was a huge hit with the audience, as it can be assumed that a lot of those comprising the audience came to Merriweather Post Pavilion mainly for their performance. Stump’s voice matched the sound conveyed on their three full-length albumsÃ¢â‚¬”a unique voice that, while it rarely enunciates words clearly, is nonpareil in tone quality. Surprisingly, Fall Out Boy’s lead singer was not the band member that spoke and encouraged the audience, as seems to be the norm, but instead Pete Wentz tackled this role, to the enjoyment of some huge Pete Wentz fans in the crowd. If this weren’t enough to please the audience, Joe Trohman certainly contributed to captivating the audience by never failing to jump, spin, or a combination of the two, something that would be, as one might think, difficult to do while playing a guitar. Not only this, but the screen behind the stage, which, up until Fall Out Boy’s performance, had remained blank, was constantly filled, whether by FOB music videos or other clever visuals.
Fall Out Boy played a refreshing variety of all of their biggest hits and best sounding songs from all three of their albums, even their first and least well-known album, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Take this to Your GraveÃ¢â‚¬. Their performance was very unpredictable, as they proved throughout their encore, during which Joe Trohman and Pete Wentz left the main stage (through those mysterious capsules) and reappeared at the back of the audience, by the lawn (to the happiness of those further back). Andy Hurley was also relocated, but only to the front of the stage, where he continued playing the drums. In addition to these surprise relocations, pyrotechnics was part of Fall Out Boy’s show, and the appearance of fire made their encore’s quality superb.
All in all, each of the artists performed incredibly well, and each of the performances were a pleasure to watch. Those who share my opinion of the quality of those on the Honda Civic Tour will be pleased to know about some upcoming tours announced that evening. In August, The Academy Is… and Cobra Starship will be touring together in Australia and Japan, for those of you willing to travel! The Academy Is… will be following their Australian/Japanese tour with a fall tour with Armor for Sleep. And finally, Fall Out Boy has announced their own fall tour with Gym Class Heroes. I recommend that if given the chance, you attend one (or all) of these shows!