During just about every conversation I’ve had with my friends about our angsty teen years, there are common aspects that pop up: MySpace, an affinity for being “random,” and loud pop punk music. So when Berklee announced that Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy would be speaking at the Berklee Performance Center along with a few members of the band’s dedicated touring crew, every student that was in middle school in 2007 was waiting in the pouring rain to get in.
Many of us at Berklee wouldn’t be studying music if it weren’t for songwriters and performers like Stump and the rest of Fall Out Boy, who use brilliant word play with innovative guitar riffs to stay successful for over a decade. This band doesn’t just represent the nostalgia my peers sometimes feel toward the days of AIM—it represents the art of longevity in the music industry by maintaining a perfect balance between exploring new styles or genres and sticking to the sound that made them famous.
After a roaring applause for the guest speakers’ entrances, the interview focused quite a bit on Stump’s songwriting process over the years, and how his music adapts to the surreal stage that the crew builds for their tours. Stump admitted that a weakness in his songwriting process would definitely be how stubborn he can be, and the fact that it is often hard for him to take other people’s ideas into consideration. As a “Type A” Music Business student, I really felt like I could relate to that issue, so it felt comforting to watch someone I idolized as a teenager struggling with a similar problem in their work.
How does a crew combine high-production value with safety and keep a focal point on the music? The answer: communication, and creating a symbiotic relationship between the songs and the action on stage.
What I couldn’t ignore was the humility that everyone on that stage had, even with their long lists of accolades. If there is a sold out tour that stopped at TD Garden, the men on that stage were on its crew. We’re talking about the men that hang international celebrities from the ceiling of major stadiums, shoot fire from the stage floors, and light shows that will be seen by thousands of adoring fans. It’s a fascinating role in building a tour that my classmates and I don’t really hear much about—how does a crew combine high-production value with safety and keep a focal point on the music? The answer from these guys was communication, and to create a symbiotic relationship between the songs and the action on stage.
Hearing all of this from people who have been working successfully in the music industry for years was so reassuring, because it reminded me that there is a fleet of hard-working, creative minds behind every inspiring live performance. With all the technology changing the ways that people listen to music recently, it isn’t as hard anymore to start a career as it is to maintain it. So when a group of teenagers from outside of Chicago can grow a career spanning almost two decades and multiple international tours, there’s something about what they do that we at Berklee were lucky enough hear. And the crews that built their amazing live shows reminded all of us that the symbiosis between the music and the visual art the goes behind a performance are timeless through it all.
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