By Marcus J. Moore (@MarcusJMoore)
Young adults rarely need a reason to turn up, so one can’t be surprised with Tuesday night’s exhibition at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. It was at the Patriot Center that pop-punk bands Panic! at the Disco and Fall Out Boy offered high-energy renditions of their familiar work, rocking the stands — literally — to the peak of delirium.
“We’ve been doing this tour for a couple of weeks,” Fall Out Boy bassist Peter Wentz said during the band’s headlining performance. “It’s good to know that our fans are still [expletive] freaks! I like how freaky you are on the inside.”
Whether or not they’re really freaks is up for debate, but it was definitely unclear whom the fans wanted to see more. Shortly before 8 p.m., Panic! at the Disco took the stage to thunderous applause. “How the [expletive] are ya?!” lead vocalist Brendon Urie asked before a hard-charging rendition of “Shotgun Wedding.”
During Panic!’s set, Urie gyrated between mannequins and mini projector screens. He encouraged listeners to defy authority and ignore standardized tests. Well then again, he didn’t say that calmly. “[expletive] a test! They can’t test us!” Urie exclaimed, much to the crowd’s delight. “And if they do, they’ll [expletive] fail!”
As if that wasn’t rowdy enough, just about every song flew off the handle in a guitar-laden rage. Even the group’s new single, “This is Gospel,” passed muster, although the fans weren’t as familiar. By the end of Panic!’s set, and the carefree “Stall Me,” hands waved in unison; Urie did a back flip from the drummer’s kit.
Shortly before 9 p.m., the four members of Fall Out Boy took the stage amid flickering lights and a massive TV projector with their own videos playing above. On the stage, frontman Patrick Stump, donned in black with a matching ski mask, belted “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race” as the lyrics flashed across the projector. The single, from the 2007 album "Infinity on High," is a call-to-arms stance against over-saturated pop culture. Other songs like “Death Valley” and “Alone Together,” with its static feedback and killer guitar solos, inspired the crowd to start the wave.
That’s when the band noticed an intricate “FOB” sign in the stands. Plastered with tiny light bulbs, it shone as brightly as Fall Out Boy’s own seizure-inducing light show. “I like the glowing FOB sign over there,” said a smiling Weintz, pointing near the back of the arena. “Are you available for the rest of the tour?”
They’d probably cut class for that. Kids do the darndest things.