Panic! At The Disco
Middle school emo heartthrobs come to Pittsburgh
Panic! At The Disco is that band that your friends listened to in middle school and now makes you wonder how they’re still around. Those who love them love them a lot, and those who don’t either discount them because of their “emo-trilogy” roots, or, in rare cases, are just genuinely not into it. To these people, I say, come on. You have to look a little beneath the surface to understand why Panic! is surviving, even as the one-man show that it has become.
Their latest concert was at The Petersen Event Center, which is not as far from campus as one might think. In fact, technically, it’s an estimated five minute walk after a short bus ride into Oakland. What Google Maps will fail to tell you, however, is that there is a monster of a hill to hike up. So yes, the walk over was not as convenient as I had hoped, despite the short distance, but it was all worth it.
From their debut album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, to their most recent classic rock, pop, and jazz-inspired album, Death of a Bachelor, every album that this band puts out is unique in genre, length, style, and mood. This leaves fans in suspense every time they promise a new album. Panic! is also one of the few bands that gives me a lot of trouble in selecting favorite albums and songs. Everything is different, but everything is tied together with the golden thread that is Brendon Urie’s voice — with the exception of some of their older work.
Urie, the lead singer and longest standing member, has become the center of the band. Other members have come and gone, but he has managed to endure through the constant evolution and growth of the music that Panic! is associated with. He has shown off the softness of his vocals in songs like “Folkin’ Around” from Panic!’s folkinspired album Pretty Odd and the strength in more upbeat songs like the recent hit “Victorious.”
I had seen Panic! in concert once before at the Thrival music festival in 2015. All I remember is being overwhelmed with the quality of the performance, and how the live performance elevated every time I listened to their music thereafter. I expected no less this time around.
Urie and the traveling members of Panic! took the stage after openers Saint Motel and Misterwives, who kept the crowd excited and on their feet during their performances. Once Panic! was up, the shrieking of voices young and old overwhelmed the arena. They opened with “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time” from their newest, Grammy nominated album. The song starts with a “Rock Lobster”-inspired guitar riff that never fails to send fans into a frenzy, and gives Urie the chance to start the show belting. The tone then shifted to the darker side with “LA Devotee” and spun further into “Golden Days.”
Always a sensational performer, Urie skipped around in a golden blazer and worked the audience with finesse. At one point he froze with the music on stage in a victorious pose with his arms extended upwards and back towards the audience, and then proceeded to do a backflip as the
music swung back in. A little later in the night, Urie disappeared, and a clip featuring Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz was shown on the big screen behind the stage. Urie then reappeared from the back of the audience, and took to a giant revolving silver piano in the middle of the crowd, where he sang an acoustic and soulful rendition of “This Is Gospel” from Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die, with the entire audience singing along.
Phone flashlights were up, and the venue had handed out colored hearts to some audience members, resulting in what looked like a blanket of multicolored stars swaying all the way around the arena. With his post-marriage swan song “Death of a Bachelor” Urie even walked right through the crowd, hugging fans as he made his way back up to the stage.
All the songs I’ve mentioned so far are some of Panic!’s newer pieces, which could have left some of their original fans a little upset. To cater to these fans, Panic! compiled a medley of “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage,” “Camisado,” and “But It’s Better If You Do” that left fans screaming. The medley was an ode to the congruity and flow of their older songs, with three pieces that seamlessly flowed into one another, and made hearts flutter. Even with these performance feats, the highlight of the show didn’t come until near the end.
“Girls/Girls/Boys” is the LGBTQ anthem on Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die, and while performing it, Urie shouted out to the ridiculousness of the hate that LGBTQ people have been subjected to over the past few months. The performance featured images of LGBTQ icons ranging from Ellen Degeneres and Anderson Cooper (swoon) to Ru Paul and Elton John. The images then assembled themselves into the LGBTQ flag, and needless to say the crowd erupted. With that, Urie announced that he was about to perform a song by one of his “favorite gay people of all time,” and proceeded to perform Panic!’s cover of Queen’s iconic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” This, friends, is where I officially lost it — mostly because Queen is my all time favorite band, and the buildup to the cover made the performance cathartic, to say the least.
You should give your middle school loves a chance. Artists have the ability to evolve as the world and you do. If you’re lucky, their new stuff will gel with you, and you won’t have to throw away those old t-shirts you have stashed in the back of your closet. Pull ‘em back out and support those musicians that supported you through your awkward puberty-struck younger self.