Fall Out Boy claimed to save rock and roll on their fifth studio album in 2013, but their joint Hella Mega Tour alongside Green Day and Weezer proved that rock is nowhere near dead, and that any person of any age can enjoy the genre.
Sept. 1 marked the official kickoff to Milwaukee’s Summerfest, the self-proclaimed “biggest music festival in the world.” The date marked the second to last show of the tour, which fans clearly didn’t want to see end.
Walking into the venue, all you could hear was people talking about how the tour was such a long time coming and how epic the lineup was: Green Day, Fall Out Boy, Weezer and The Interpreters (the latter on select dates). With the tour originally postponed due to the pandemic — something all three bands addressed during the show — the sold-out concert felt eerily as though live music had returned to normal. (For safety purposes, the tour required attendees to be vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours.)
Weezer kicked things off and performed much of their most notable work, the band’s signature “W” logo hanging above them on stage. Casual listeners in attendance perked up every time they recognized one of the band’s many hits, from “Hero” to “Buddy Holly,” and frontman Rivers Cuomo truly brought ’80s classic rock to life with the group’s latest album’s vibe (and his epic mullet).
Fall Out Boy were up next, beginning with a Twilight Zone-inspired intro. Although they could have headlined a stadium, as they’ve done in the past, Patrick Stump and co. made the amphitheater setting their own. It felt like an immersive experience rather than just songs without a cohesive flow or story line, as they performed a multitude of discography hits, including “Thnks fr th Mmrs,” “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race,” “Sugar, We’re Goin Down,” “Uma Thurman” and more.
Unlike earlier dates of the tour, there was no flame-throwing bass guitar stunt or piano pyrotechnics, much to the dismay of fans. (After the second song, fans in the front pit could be heard asking about the band’s typical onstage pyro, mysteriously missing from this particular set.) At one point, the band surprised guitarist Joe Troham on stage with a cake to celebrate his birthday. After their set, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” played as a mid-concert palate cleanser, and the entire crowd sang and thrashed along.
Inside the Hella Mega Tour
After a video yearbook of their time as a band played across a large screen on stage, Green Day — frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tre Cool — took the stage. Right off the bat, Armstrong attempted to create a sense of community and escape by requesting fans live in the moment and put their phones away. Surprisingly, much of the crowd appeared to listen to his plea — a rare live music moment sans social media updates.
Armstrong truly exemplified what it means to be a frontman during the band’s set. His stage presence was electric, and he checked in with the crowd in between songs, entertaining fans with his own brand of comedy. (At one point, he invited a fan on stage to perform a guitar solo, and then encouraged the kid to dive off the stage — into the arms of a ready security guard, of course.)
Although Green Day are quintessential rock icons, their music often features less-used instruments and influxes of different sub-genres (let’s not forget that they even had their own Broadway show, American Idiot). This time the group used a full band, including a saxophone, during their set, and the crowd went wild when Armstrong performed his harmonica solo.
Throughout their entire set, crowd surfers floated toward the barricade — except during on track. The audience went silent during the band’s performance of “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” which was written about the death of Armstrong’s father. During the song, fans offered up their cell phone lights while swaying and singing along. There was no screaming or moshing — a stark contrast from “She,” performed just one song before — but rather it was a tender, quiet moment shared between fans and frontman.
The Hella Mega Tour was every punk-rock kids’ dream and after waiting over a year, we finally got to experience it. Unfortunately, the tour has now come to the end — but thanks for the memories, Fall Out Boy and Green Day!