I started writing at Minnesota State University’s The Reporter a few days before classes started my freshman year. I was eager to get involved with the campus newspaper and begin my path toward becoming a respected music writer.
Oh, to be young.
One of my first assignments at the paper was a preview and subsequent review of a concert put on by a guy named Tom Fallenstein, a promoter from Mankato who was also in a band called Average Super Heros. (Their spelling, not mine.) I was told it would be a punk rock concert, so while I found Mr. Fallenstein to be interesting, I didn’t care so much about the show itself. I declined attending the show, but the preview made the Variety section.
I never thought twice about the story until about five years later, when I was reading some of my first articles a few days before graduating. Something about this story baffled me, but it was buried and I almost missed it completely:
“Fallenstein hasn’t signed any acts yet, but he has coordinated shows for some of the local bands, such as the Oct. 19 show at the Kato Ballroom, featuring Warped Tour alums Rufio and Motion City Soundtrack with local acts Fall Out Boy and Almost There.”
That concert, which I presumed featured a few no-name area bands and a crowd full of angsty high school kids, in fact featured what would become one of the top-selling bands of the past decade. I was aghast to see I’d blown off one of those concerts where — as a part-time music snob — I could say, Yeah, they’re big now, but I saw them back when…
(Let me pause and say yes, I’m aware Fall Out Boy wasn’t and isn’t “local” to Mankato. If anything Minneapolis’ Motion City Soundtrack — another highly regarded pop-punk outfit — was. It’s hard for me to get hung up on that blunder all things considered.)
Fall Out Boy, in a really sloppy, disorganized manner, announced it is breaking up. It’s saddening if only because they were the underdogs who somehow surged to the top of the charts with charisma, genius marketing and a series of catchy singles. A few of their albums were mainstays in my iPod, but I really got away from their music over the past year or two.
For my sister’s 19th birthday, I took her to see Fall Out Boy with Panic! at the Disco, The Starting Line and Motion City Soundtrack at the now-deceased Myth Nightclub in Maplewood, MN. It was a sell-out show with a mixed audience who looked like they’d spent the afternoon shopping at Zumiez…like I had.
We arrived late to the show, and in our rush, I had left my headlights on. After the show, we realized the car battery was dead. We called AAA and a tow truck was sent to give us a jump start. In the meantime, my sister and good friend Dan walked on over to the Fall Out Boy tour bus. Playfully, they asked a security guard if they had a jumper back on board to help start our car. The security guard asked around, and in this time, bassist Pete Wentz came over and talked to Dan and my sister. He volunteered to took pictures, but apologized the band didn’t carry a jumper pack.
It was a pretty cool thing to do on Wentz’s part, so even while Fall Out Boy became popular to the point of annoyance, I admired how fan-friendly they remained in light of their towering fame.
When rock scholars look back on the ’00s, they should note the monumental rise of Fall Out Boy. They were one of the first bands to effectively utilize social media (blogs, YouTube, Twitter) to grow their brand. They were never the most talented bunch, but they played loud, loved their fans and seemed to love being in the band. This may come off as Pollyanna, but I’m glad Fall Out Boy proved me wrong for passing on that concert back in 2003. What I learned is in music and life, you can never be sure who’s capable of breaking through and making it big.