Two hours before showtime on the second night of Fall Out Boy's tour, Pete Wentz, is trying to get to his bus, which is parked outside Las Vegas' Palms hotel. "I don't want to walk through the casino," the bassist tells his security guard, nixing the simplest exit route. The only other way out requires traversing the stage, but the casino's 2,500-seat theater is full, and Wentz doesn't want to cause a fuss. "Wheel me across the stage in my wardrobe case," he says, folding himself Houdini-style into the cramped metal box. "It smells like dicks in here!" he yells. Seconds later, he's being pushed up the ramp, trailed by giggling roadies.
The antic suits Vegas' rowdy vibe: "It's the only Fall Out Boy show where there's a guaranteed afterparty," says singer Patrick Stump. "It's strange here - you're walking through tables of people blowing their life savings." Backstage, Cobra Starship frontman Gabe Saporta — whose band, along with Metro Station and All Time Low, is opening — rolls by in a wheelchair, holding a cane and a shot glass brimming with vodka. "Yesterday I jumped off the stage and landed wrong," he says, pointing to his freakishly swollen ankle. "I'm gonna drink to numb the pain."
While Wentz and Saporta discuss their Twitters, the rest of FOB are in their dressing room, which is stocked with Sun Chips, Twix and Prosecco. "Don't drink the Prosecco yet," Stump tells guitarist Joe Trohman, who's curled up on the sofa with his guitar and his fiancee. "I want to get in on it, and I can't drink till after the show." Drummer Andy Hurley silently picks at his vegan Chinese food. "I Ie talks a lot — it just depends on what you're talking about," Stump says. "I Ie loves talking about Lost."
It's FOB's first tour behind last year's Folie a Deux, and they're testing a new strategy: "If we're not emoting with a song, we won't play it," says Wentz. "That's something I learned from John Mayer: Your fans get offon seeingyou getofl, and they can tell when you're faking it."
When it's time to get dressed, the guys slip into charcoal business suits and take turns having mock cuts and bruises applied with fake blood and purple eye shadow. The corporate-villain costumes are part of a concept Wentz, designed: "Madoff', AIG and the banks created the situation we're in," he says. "If a guy who's lost his job could be alone in the dark with Madoff, that's what the bruises represent."
Onstage, Wentz screams, "We're here to teach you about wealth, fame and luxury!" before launching into "Thriller (Car-Crash Hearts)." The sarcasm seems to be lost on the crowd, most of whom are young enough to think AIG is some kind of Facebook lingo. ("Satire doesn't always go over well," Went/ says after the show.) Wentz twirls in circles and Trohman headbangs as the band rips through punky versions of "Sugar, We're Goin' Down," "Thanks fr th Minis," "What a Catch, Donnie" and "America's Suitehearts."
Post-concert, Wentz and Stump head up to a deluxe suite, where girls with fishnets and fake boobs — plus Hugh Hefner's ex, Holly Madison — gyrate to Flo Rida. Stump, sipping a beer, looks a bit out of place. But Wentz is behind the bar, pouring shots and schmoozing with partygoers. "Supposedly there's gonna be a giant Slip N' Slide with K-Y Jelly here later," he says, grinning. "We're pretty low-key, aren't we?"