Fall Out Boy returned home to Chicago Sept. 8 to play what bassist Pete Wentz told the Chicago Tribune was their largest show in the city to date — headlining Wrigley Field (1060 W. Addison St).
To make playing its hometown show even more special, it crafted “The Mania Experience,” a pop-up art exhibition building off the aesthetics of the band’s newest album “MANIA.”
The band described the weekend-long event as “a three dimensional version of Mania” where fans would be able to “see, feel, hear, and touch all the different textures from the album.” This concept came to life through a series of rooms, each corresponding to a different song or lyric from the album.
Upon entering the logo-adorned door, attendees began to see the world take shape with a “MANIA” neon sign and a gradient of colorful string hanging from the ceiling.
Upstairs, each room was equipped with photo opportunities. With a pit full of pillows shaped like pills underneath the quote “the pills are kicking in” for “Sunshine Riptide,” a bedroom with the furniture on the ceiling for “Young and Menace” and a small forest with real palms and grass for “Wilson,” there was no shortage of backdrop options.
One of the most elaborate spaces was based on the song “Heaven’s Gate.” In the ballad, lead singer Patrick Stump asks the person he loves to give him “a boost over heaven’s gate” if in the end he doesn’t make it to heaven but his love does.
The gold room was made to feel like the inside of a music box, with purple ballerinas twirling from the ceiling. Fans were able to pick up one of the many headphones in the room and hear alternate versions of Fall Out Boy songs, including lullaby versions.
The room centered around the song “Church” showed “The MANIA Experience” as a true collaboration between the fans and the band. The tiled wall read “Confess my love” and markers littered the floor prompting fans to cover the room with their own notes of gratitude or fandom meme references.
A glass case occupied the center of the “Church” room where Wentz and drummer Andy Hurley spent some time throughout the weekend. The members had headphones on but would sign new pairs of Vans shoes for lucky fans who received a secret stamp and would pose for photos.
With “The MANIA Experience,” Fall Out Boy crafted something for and with the fans, allowing them into its headspace, adding another layer to the purple paradise that is MANIA. As free tickets were offered, fans who couldn’t afford a ticket to the concert still had the chance to be a part of the band’s unique homecoming.
For those who were able to attend the show at Wrigley, it was a special experience for both die-hard and casual fans.
Rapper Machine Gun Kelly and fellow Chicago natives Rise Against opened the MANIA Tour. Machine Gun Kelly began his set with a guitar-heavy song to show this crowd of rock ‘n’ roll fans not all rap is created equal. He continued to get their attention by running through the crowd, down the aisles and jumping from chair to chair.
Rise Against brought their heavy sound and reminisced about growing up in the music scene with Fall Out Boy, looking at how far the “four nerds from Chicago” have come.
Fall Out Boy entered the stage to a video chronicling their career set to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” directly followed by a burst of streamers synced to “Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes” — a song from 2008 album “Folie á Deux” which never reached commercial success, but dedicated fans recognized with passion.
The band packed their set with songs from all seven albums, making sure to include ones made to fill a stadium such as “The Phoenix” and the 2014 hit “Centuries,” which allowed guitarist Joe Trohman’s solos to shine.
Pyrotechnics, including flames, fireworks and a flame-throwing bass for Wentz, made the show more engaging as fireworks burst with the drums and emphasized the lyrics.
The hometown show wouldn’t have been complete without the band’s self-proclaimed “love letter to Chicago,” “Lake Effect Kid.” The song is a recent official release to promote the show at Wrigley, but has been around as a demo since 2008.
Wentz encouraged those in the crowd to follow their dreams, commenting how the band went from playing shows with no one in attendance to headlining Wrigley Field.
“This is fucking attainable,” Wentz said to the audience. “There is somebody in this crowd right now who’s in a band or who does a project who will be playing on a stage like this so stay who you are.”
Stump performed a stripped down version of “Young and Menace.” While the studio version contains more electronic elements and cut up vocals, Stump’s voice and the piano are the perfect combination to showcase his talent. The frontman has the range to belt out long high notes and raspy growls in the same verse.
Hurley displayed his skills during an extended drum solo which allowed Stump and Wentz to make their way to the B stage right behind second base where they performed hits “Dance, Dance” and “Thnks fr th Mmrs.”
“Everybody in here is a part of this journey and is a part of this culture,” Wentz said thanking the crowd between songs.
Once back on the main stage, Fall Out Boy played another ode to their city, “Chicago Is So Two Years Ago.” The song only makes an appearance at hometown shows so audience members can scream “there’s a light on in Chicago and I know I should be home.”
As a final tribute to their origins, Stump dedicated “Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy” from the band’s first album, “Take This to Your Grave,” to Wrigley because the song was originally written in an apartment a few blocks west of the stadium.
The band closed with “Saturday,” the go-to closing song since the band’s inception. As the song came to a close, a full-blown fireworks show began in the stadium, and Wentz ran up to the barricade to scream with the fans.
“This is our favorite track,” Wentz said. “This is our favorite place. You are our favorite people.”
“MANIA” by Fall Out Boy can be streamed on all platforms.