Rapper Wiz Khalifa and veteran pop-punkers Fall Out Boy may on the surface appear to be an unlikely pairing, but on a warm summer night at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ, the cross-pollination of the two genres worked.
The Boys of Zummer Tour debuted in front of a mixed crowd of rockers and hip hop fans coming together as one for a night of music and an opportunity to exercise its right to be young, and wild and free.
“For real, I love the summer time,” said the ever chill Khalifa, as he welcomed the crowd to a night of party songs and revelry. “I love feeling free.”
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Khalifa is on top of his game with a hit single, “See You Again” (with Charlie Puth) and a whole new audience that comes with it. His set was a perfect blend of old and new songs paired with an ever growing onstage confidence that is in direct contrast to his stoner image.
Make no mistake: weed is still his favorite subject. A pair of pre-taped videos showed the 26-year old Pittsburgh rapper enjoying his favorite pastime with half-nude women and and he couldn’t help asking who in the crowd was smoking as well. He even lit what appeared to be a blunt on stage, and several on stage dancers partook in the um, festivities. But Khalifa also showed a new found maturity, talking about becoming a father and being inspired by “every day people” who get up and go to work every day.
“I appreciate that and respect that,” he said.
However, it’s summer time. The living is easy and it’s time, he said, “to take a little of the load off and have some fun.”
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Fun being the operative word, there was plenty of that to be had in his hour and a half set as well as the entire show, which is about as much fun as one can have on a summer night. Dressed in white with a baseball cap, glasses, and sporting his perfect braids, Khalifa opened with “Ass Drop” before seamlessly blazing through “Roll Up” and-in a cool touch- glided on an electric skateboard as DJ Bonics revved up the crowd. The energy amped with the dual punch of “Black and Yellow” and a spirited rendition of the party jam, “We Dem Boys.” Khalifa even brought the party out to a small stage on the lawn with a rollicking nod to his “Taylor Gang” and a surprise: an appearance by rapper Chevy Woods.
All the while, his band Kush and Orange juice ably backed him up as he serviced the booty shakers and hard core fans with “Work Hard, Play Hard,” “The Race” and “Paperbond.” He did have his romantic moments. “Promises” was simply captivating, finishing with a slight nod to Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amore.” In a nice touch, the rapper showered the crowd in red confetti as he finished “Stayin’ Out All Night,” and “Young and Wild and Free” provided the crowd with the opportunity to sing in unison. On a warm summer night, voices coming together singing “we’re just having fun/we don’t care who sees” perfectly captured the spirit of the evening, which concluded on an uplifting note as Khalifa lead the audience for the finale of “See You Again” (sans Puth, who was represented with vocal tracks).
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Fall Out Boy was a celebration of a different sort complete with pyrotechnics, flashing lights, balloons, and a set packed with hits. The group-singer Patrick Stump, bassist Pete Wentz, guitarist Joe Trohman, and drummer Andy Hurley-came out with all guns blazing, clearly pumped for opening night and owning the audience from the second they launched into their opener “Sugar We’re Goin’ Down.”
Wentz, who was on fire for the entire night swinging himself and his bass in circles, explained the theme of the tour succinctly.
“Life is just hard sometimes, you know, and for the next hour and a half, let’s f**ing fight back against that,” he said.
With the gauntlet thrown down, Fall Out Boy let it rip with the anthem “Irresistible,” from the new album, American Beauty/American Psycho. In a live setting, the song is even more powerful, and Stump cleverly played with the audience, changing the lyric “you feel so L.A.” to “you feel so N.J.,” eliciting a huge reaction.
The band-who nodded to their punk rock past and name checked venues like Philadelphia’s Electric Factory for supporting the group in their earlier years- kept up the energy with “The Phoenix” and “A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More ‘Touch Me.”
Just when the show seemed heading into overdrive with the fist pumping “This ‘Aint a Scene: It’s an Arm’s Race,” the band pulled it back with a surprise acoustic set on the lawn, tenderly turning “Immortals” from the movie Big Hero 6 into an intricate ballad. “Young Volcanoes” also fared well in this setting, but the mini-set was the calm before the proverbial storm, as drummer Hurley emerged from his drum risers (shaped like a pyramid) for a taut drum solo that included a sample of Nick Jonas’s “Chains.”)
From there, the band never let up, tearing into “Dance Dance” (with Trohman and Wentz both making maximum use of the risers and the stage), the album title track, and a fun romp of “Uma Thurman” (The Munsters theme never sounded so sexy).
Wentz was clearly caught up in the evening, and told the audience he truly believed that somewhere in the audience was a fan who was going to move mountains and make a significant change in the world before introducing “Centuries” the anthem for outsiders-to those who “bring divergent thinking” into the world.
The Chicago quartet wrapped with the one-two punch of “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘Em Up) and “Saturday,” with Wentz ditching the bass and Stump ferociously attacking the guitar before calling it a night.
Opening acts for the tour including up and comer MAX (aka Max Schneider), who performed his single, “Gibberish.” The 22-year old is currently on the big screen portraying Van Dyke Parks in the John Cusack/Paul Dano film about Beach Boy Brian Wilson, Love and Mercy. Independent hip hop artist Hoodie Allen –who happily announced that he went to college in Philadelphia-warmed up the crowd with a lively and energetic set that included a cover of Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy” and his original ode to pop-punk icons, “Act My Age.” DJ Drama mc’d and played master of ceremonies between live sets, keeping the festive attendees dancing in the seats.
Fall Out Boy will be closing the show throughout the tour, representatives tell Billboard. Concert goers are given the opportunity to purchase standing room only seating in the pit area of the stage, and Wednesday night’s pit appeared pretty full. The majority of fans filled out the lawn area, but there were still plenty of open seats in the center area of the amphitheater.