If Fall Out Boy and Wiz Khalifa seemed like an odd pairing for a two-month trek, they certainly found a rhythm at Jones Beach’s Nikon Theatre in Wantagh, New York, last night. The Boys of Zummer co-headliners thrived on the quirks that make each an outlier in their own genre, and the musical similarities they’ve grown into sharing — a facility for genre-hopping and an easy appeal to the teens in the crowd.
Khalifa kicked off his set by bounding his tall, lanky body to “Ass Drop.” Live, he’s as playful and goofy as his songs imply, and his set list served as a strong reminder of how many notable singles he released before the Paul Walker tribute ballad “See You Again” exploded as a contender for Song of the Summer. Early in the set, he powered through “Black and Yellow,” “We Dem Boyz” and “No Sleep” in succession, asserting that he had been around for a good chunk of time before the days of Furious 7. Highlights included “Promises,” where Khalifa crooned like a pro, and the moment when he made his way to the center of the audience and performed “Taylor Gang” from the soundboard.
“Taylor Gang” — riddled with gun-shot sound effects — was a brief moment of toughness for Khalifa, whose performance was largely characterized by affability. He’s the rapper-next-door and the dude you can chill with, rap’s goofball little brother and one of the few artists in the genre with a healthy sense of humor about himself who also records extremely popular slow tunes.
In concert, he stayed true to his blunted rep. During “Young, Wild & Free,” two large inflatable joints were tossed around like beach balls. Later, Pete Wentz joined him for an even more bass-heavy “Stayin’ Out All Night.” As expected, his encore was “See You Again,” which easily turned the amphitheater into a karaoke room.
Between the headliners, opener MAX returned to the stage and surprise guest Travie McCoy of Gym Class Heroes performed his 2010 hit “Billionaire” — but the screams for soon-to-arrive FOB were the most deafening of all.
The Chicago band opened with “Sugar, We’re Going Down,” the single that broke them into the mainstream. However, it was almost an unusual choice considering the audience in attendance appeared roughly 16 to 18 years old, and clearly many did not discover FOB the minute “Sugar” hit the radio in 2005.
So began a diverse set, hitting on tracks from across their career rather than promoting their newest material. They jumped from 2005’s “Sugar” to 2015’s “Irresistible” to 2013’s “Phoenix” and right back into 2005 with “A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More ‘Touch Me'” with ease. The songs from a decade ago, sound as fresh as they did when they came out, mainly because the band’s earliest records are still the template for contemporary bands like All Time Low and 5 Seconds of Summer.
Halfway through the set, bassist Wentz, singer Patrick Stump and guitarist Joe Trohman made their way to the soundboard with just their guitars for acoustic performances of “Immortals” (from the film Big Hero 6) and 2013’s “Young Volcanoes,” featuring Stump’s still cheeky delivery of the line “We will teach you how to make boys-next-door out of assholes.” As they made their way back to the front, drummer Andy Hurley took over, playing a solo over tracks like G.O.O.D. Music’s “Mercy” and Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen.”
Khalifa returned to the stage briefly to tack a new verse onto this year’s “Uma Thurman” before the band jumped into a high-energy rendition of 2007 “Thnks Fr th Mmrs.” They capped off their main set with “Centuries” before returning for a quick encore, though it seemed like they had already powered through the hits off each album. However, they still had one final surprise: After “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark,” Fall Out Boy went even further back, performing “Saturday” off their 2003 debut Take This to Your Grave. The track was an early glimpse at their abilities to combine catchy pop with scene cred, and Wentz even brought back his memorable screamo harmonies, a rare treat for those who have missed that element of their songs. For a brief but thrilling moment, it sounded like the boys of summer left the arena and returned to the sweaty clubs where they began.