The rise of Fall Out Boy, as told through their most important gigs

From terrible shows in school cafeterias to headlining hometown stadiums, Fall Out Boy have risen like a phoenix to become one of the biggest bands on the planet. As they gear up to headline Download Festival for the first time, Patrick Stump reflects on the pivotal gigs and tours that made them the saviours of rock’n’roll…

The rise of Fall Out Boy, as told through their most important gigs
James Hickie
Elliott Ingham

Patrick Stump’s mum is a methodical accountant who likes to plan ahead and think things through. She would bestow this organisational wisdom upon her son when he was growing up. When his band Fall Out Boy got signed, however, thereby kick-starting one of the most exciting trajectories of the past 20 years, Mrs Stump quickly realised there were limits to what she could assist him with.

“She said to me, ‘I can’t help you anymore – you’re beyond my area of expertise,’” Patrick recalls with a laugh.

In the years since, there has been no end of through-the-looking-glass moments for Fall Out Boy, a litany of incredible achievements highlighted by the ever-growing shows the Chicago four-piece – completed by bassist Pete Wentz, guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley – have played. It’s an upscaling Patrick admits he still can’t fully process.

“I’m probably never going to get used to it, and I think I’m at peace with that,” he admits, taking time out backstage at Hamburg’s Barclays Arena on the band’s epic So Much For (Tour) Dust jaunt, which visited the UK late last year.

Thankfully, Fall Out Boy will be back on these shores in the summer, having been announced as headliners for Download Festival 2024, alongside Queens Of The Stone Age and Avenged Sevenfold. The news has given Patrick cause to reflect upon the pivotal shows and tours that have made FOB the band they are today, with a self-deprecating appraisal of the good times and the bad, the tiny gigs and the Hella Mega ones.

“A lot of my life makes sense to me, where I understand the various points of what happened and why, but there are moments with the shows we’ve played that make no sense at all,” Patrick reflects. “You go to arenas and they have pictures in the hallway of all the big artists that have played there, then they’ll have pictures of us, which sticks out to me!”

2001The band’s first-ever show at DePaul University cafeteria

“We were playing with some pretty cool math-rock and emo bands. When we got out there, we were horrible – I mean really terrible – and there were about three or four people there. I can’t remember what our band name was at the time – it wasn’t Fall Out Boy, and we were tossing some names around. I remember suggesting one of the names we had in mind to the drummer in one of the other bands and him telling me it sucked. We had a guitar player who I’d only met the week before and I’ve never seen since. I hope he’s doing good things. I heard he became a bike messenger. I cannot imagine a humbler beginning for a first show!”

2003Fall Out Boy’s first gig with Andy Hurley

“I think it was with Andy’s other band, The Kill Pill. Andy played in both bands that night. It was a bigger show for us, opening for [Florida melodic hardcore band] As Friends Rust, and we didn’t have a guitar player, so I was playing guitar. It was weird because we were playing some newer songs, which stood out, so it felt like we’d started to actualise the band. I’m a drummer originally, so I was picky about drummers. But when we played with Andy, it was the first time that it felt right. I remember saying to a friend of mine who was there at the time that we were still a bad band then, and she said, ‘You guys couldn’t see it, but even then, it felt like the beginning of something.’”

2004The first UK tour

“One thing I remember was going to a Mexican restaurant, ordering tacos, and being unable to describe the things that arrived at the table – and not in a good way. That first UK tour was with Mest, and it was surreal. I think that might have been the first time I’d ever left the States, so going to another country felt like a big deal. When I got there, I realised the UK is similar in a lot of ways – particularly thanks to our shared musical history. One difference was that the venues all felt so much more punk rock than those in the States, with an unhinged basement vibe, which surprised me but was also thrilling.”

2007Headlining Decaydance Fest at the Hammersmith Apollo

“I look back on some moments and realise they were bigger than I noticed at the time. The other bands on that bill – Panic! At The Disco, Gym Class Heroes, The Academy Is…, Cobra Starship – were all bands we’d played with a lot before that and were friends with, so at the time I thought, ‘Every show we do is Decaydance Fest!’ Then that moment in time was gone and I soon realised that it was crazy that we were able to get all those people together to do that show. You don’t necessarily realise you’re part of a thing when you’re part of a thing, so when I think back now, I’m amazed.”

2009The last gig before going on hiatus at Madison Square Garden

“It was such a strange show. I had checked out at the time, and was busy thinking about solo stuff, but really I just wanted to make lots of music. One of the things that was crippling was making a record and then going on the road for two years to promote the record. For me, making records is what’s important, so the grind of having to make them so slowly was killing me. I was therefore in a bad space with the band. I think we were out with +44, and I remember Mark [Hoppus] shaving Pete’s head onstage. Pete had the famous haircut and that was the end of it. It was kind of a joke to do that, but it ended up proving to be fairly symbolic, as it really was the end to that whole moment.”

2013Fall Out Boy’s first gig back at Subterranean, Chicago

“The whole thing happened so fast and so suddenly! We had a meeting in New York. The four of us met at our manager’s apartment and we talked about maybe getting together and seeing what happened. It was tense, actually, as we hadn’t talked to each other in a long time and there were all these old grievances – but there was also this sense that we were older and wiser. We put together some songs, and one of them was My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up). On the morning of the show, we appeared on a radio show and the whole station felt excited about the song. It felt like the beginning of a rollercoaster. That night, when we played Light Em Up, a song people could only have heard hours ago, the room exploded!”

2014Co-headlining the Monumentour with Paramore

“That was one of my favourite tours! Andy and I would do a drum-off, so we got to play together, which was a full-circle thing for me, as I had never got to play drums in front of people with the band before then – so that was fun! I remember thinking on that tour that we were really getting somewhere as a band. Our first show, we were a pretty bad band. For a while in the early days, we wrote better than we played, and we thought better than we wrote. But as time passed things really came together. That tour was a point where we felt that we were really getting somewhere. Plus, the audiences were great on that tour – incredibly excited and giving.”

2018Headlining Wrigley Field baseball stadium in Chicago

“When I was a kid, the height of my ambition was to play the [1,100-capacity] Metro in Chicago. I never thought in a million years that we’d get to play Wrigley Field – I didn’t even know that bands played there. It’s not a venue, it’s where the Cubs play. I’m still in disbelief that we’ve now played it three times! That doesn’t make any sense to me. The first time we did it was terrifying, but also familiar. We used to have an apartment in Roscoe Village, which is walking distance from Wrigley Field. I remember Pete and I writing [2003 single] Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy together, then we went jogging around Wrigley, and a group of drunk Cubs fans shouted, ‘Fucking losers!’ at us. Being inside that structure years later, singing that song, was therefore so surreal.”

2018Having a Freddie Mercury experience headlining Reading & Leeds

“I think about that regularly. I’m not a natural performer. I used to act, so I could act as a character, but I couldn’t really be me and sing onstage – that never used to be comfortable for me. I have this very specific memory of This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race. There was this part where I sling my guitar to the stage and I’m just singing and having the crowd sing with me. The way they responded at that point made me suddenly think, ‘Oh, I can do this!’ I remember running towards the audience with the microphone and the life that came back at me just blew me away. When you have an audience like that, you’re Freddie fucking Mercury! I think about that on an almost daily basis when we’re on tour. That song has a whole different life now because of my experiences at Reading & Leeds.”

2022Playing the Hella Mega Tour with Green Day and Weezer

“I couldn’t have been more obsessed with a band than I was with Weezer in 1998-’99, when I was in high school. Then, years later, they’re your buddies and you’re playing with them and they’re playing some of your favourite songs ever. That is so strange. One of my musical origin stories was in fifth grade, when this kid in the middle of class beckoned me over. We snuck under a table, and he puts headphones on me and he plays Dookie. I was like, ‘What is this?!’ On that tour, Billie Joe Armstrong said I was a really good singer. I’m still recovering from that.”

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