|All photos by Agatha Donkar|
Take off your judgey hats for a minute, Speakers In Code readers, and get past the band name in the subject line. Indulge me for a moment.
Has loving a band ever changed your life? Not loving the music, per se, or having a crush on that really smokin’ lead singer, but simply the act of loving the band changed your life? Maybe you met your future spouse at one of their concerts. Maybe you wrote your first book to the sound of their second album. Maybe loving that band simply gave you something to focus on when nothing else in your life was good.
For me, that band was Fall Out Boy.
In 2007, I fell in love with their fourth record, Infinity On High. I was fresh out of grad school, under-employed, had recently ended a seven year long relationship. I was unmoored and more than a little lost in my life. I was significantly older than a lot of their fan base. But I fell in love with that album, and that fall, my roommate, my best friend from grad school and I drove three hours on a work night to see Fall Out Boy play a show in Roanoke on the Young Wild Things tour that followed Infinity’s release. That night, surrounded by kids a decade younger than me, armed with only a several-years-old Nikon Coolpix, I took a photo of Pete Wentz at the edge of the crowd, surrounded by confetti and reaching hands. It isn’t a technically brilliant photo, but it satisfied something in my heart that had been lacking for a long time.
So I started going to local shows. I got serious about taking photos. Getting serious about taking photos and going to shows eventually led me to Speakers In Code. And before Friday night, I hadn’t seen Fall Out Boy live again.
Frankly, after they released their fifth album in 2009 and then went on hiatus, I assumed it was a break up. I assumed I would never get to see them, and never get to shoot them, much less see them playing new songs in one of the most venerable small clubs in the country.
On Friday night, I not only got to see them play the 9:30 Club along with 1199 other deliriously happy people, I had the privilege of wearing photo credentials around my neck and photographing the band from a proper pit, rather than the middle of the crowd. Save Rock And Roll is a danceable, catchy record, especially should-be-a-hit “Young Volcanoes”, which set the crowd on fire, but the set included as much from their earlier catalog as the new record: long-time sing-alongs “Grand Theft Autumn”, “Hum Hallelujah, and “Dance Dance”. They’ve become a band who knows who they are, and embraces it, minus eyeliner and flat-irons and confessional journal entries: a band full of very talented people, making music that they love.
Their music isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. But I love them, and their music makes me very happy, and it brought me to concert photography, which is the love of my life. So I am grateful to Fall Out Boy, forever, for putting me on the right path.
That’s what I mean by loving a band, which I think we can all agree on.
Full set from Friday is here. (Photo creds were courtesy Island Records, the band, and stellar day-of guy Joshua Scott. Thanks, y’all.)