After losing two of the band’s founding members and being questioned by fans about their choice of direction for their sophomore album Pretty. Odd., many were not sure what the fate of Las Vegas-based baroque pop duo, Panic! At The Disco, would be. The group started out their career in 2004 as a powerhouse, releasing their first album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. The album followed behind the success of their first single, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”, and was soon certified double platinum. The group decided to make some changes to their tone and released Pretty. Odd. in 2008. Due to the drastic change in sound from their debut, the album undersold its expectations. In 2009, two members, Ryan Ross and Jon Walker, disbanded from the group, leaving Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith to rebuild the band and find their way back to their previous pedestal of success.
Recently releasing their third album, Vices & Virtues, Panic! At The Disco recaptured their old audiences by reintegrating their debut sound. The rousing strings, belting brass instruments and the theatrics of the album had listeners crawling back to Panic!. Recently, they set off on a full U.S. tour in promotion of their new album. The tour made its round to the LC Pavilion in downtown Columbus and, as long time listener of Panic!, I made it a priority to attend.
Arriving about an hour before doors, the line seemed to cover the full stretch of Neil Avenue from the doors of the LC to the corner of Neil and Vine St, which is about 400 or so feet. Four hundred feet of fans who were anxiously awaiting the opportunity to get inside and claim their spots in the pit. I waited at the nearby A&R Bar and enjoyed the sun as everyone filed into the venue one by one. Once the line came to the end, I hopped on the back and proceeded into the swarms of people rushing for stage.
I’m not one who usual takes a place in the pit at a concert, because I enjoy seeing the performances and singing along without the added stress of maintaining my footing among the jumping audience and keeping an eye out of crowd surfers. But for this show, I made my way down just as the first act was getting ready to go on. The lights dimmed and the crowd began to roar.
The first opening act, Funeral Party, took the stage and their lead singer, Chad Elliot, gripped firmly on to a strand of sleigh bells. This automatically grabbed attention from the crowd and Funeral Party started full force into their set without any hesitation. Their sound was slightly disorienting but paired with the vocals, it provided a “Muse”-esque feel to their performance. Overall, the crowd seemed to enjoy them, but after about three or four songs, the set began to grow redundant and the audience’s attention was quickly lost. Everyone was ready to move on to the next act.
There was a short wait in between Funeral Party and the following band, fun. Having seen fun. before, I knew to expect a very high energy, unique and, for lack of a better word, fun performance. Nate Ruess, former front man of The Format, has acquired over his years of experience the proper formula for an engaging live performance. Interaction with not only the other members of his band, but the audience is a must, while also covering every inch of the stage and having a kickass voice to tie it all together. Ruess’ banter between songs also entertained as he joked that Madonna would be the surprise special guest playing after Panic! and we all might want to stick around. Playing a few of their most popular songs, including “Walking The Dog” and “All The Pretty Girls”, they had the crowd off their feet and dancing along the music by the end of their time on stage.
As fun. unloaded their equipment and Panic!’s crew began to set up, I could feel the anticipation and tension growing among the crowd. Organs littered the back of stage and a pulpit was set up in the corner, with the words “Panic! At The Disco” etched on it, glowing red. As the minutes ticked on, I myself began to feel anxious and jumped a little when a monotone tune began to ring out of the organs as smoke billowed from their pipes. Green lights lit up the ruffled cloth backdrop and all one could see were the black silhouettes of the band as they walked on to the stage. Before anyone could even fathom what was happening they went straight into the song “Ready To Go” from their new album. Having been warmed up by fun., everyone was on their feet within two seconds and going wild. The crowd’s voice even began to overpower Brendon’s at one point and a smile began to grow across his face.
Having rolled his ankle a week or two prior, physicians told Brendon that they should postpone the tour so he could give it three weeks to heal. Despite that fact, Brendon ignored their requests and remained up and about during their set. He danced, he jumped, he messed around with the other members and he ran from corner to corner, not even showing that he was feeling an ounce of pain (which is incredible considering his ankle was the size of a tennis ball on either side). The crowd was wound up after the first song, and Panic! was aware they needed to cater to old fans as well as the new, so they then went into one of their many hits off of their debut album, “But It’s Better If You Do”. The remainder of their set proved to be a complete split of songs from A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out and Vices & Virtues, with a few selections off of Pretty. Odd. (including its two hits “Nine In The Afternoon” and “That Green Gentleman”). Ian Crawford (formerly of The Cab) and Dallon Weekes were there to fill the spots that Ross and Walker left and have undoubtedly made fantastic additions to the lineup. As it got further into the set, Urie was showing off his vocal abilities by hitting outrageously high notes, showing everyone that his range wasn’t one to be competed with. He also showcased his British accent during “I Write Sins” and tried his hand at tasteful screamo during various other songs. The band even performed a cover of Kansas’ “Carry On My Wayward Son” as an ode to all the parents who brought their kids to the show.
Overall, the show was fantastic in every sense of the word. Panic! proved themselves to be back and stronger than ever with no intentions of slowing down. Fans of all ages left the venue satisfied, and I left more than pleased. After waiting six years to finally catch one of their shows, I was not disappointed. I can confidently say that out of every concert I’ve been to (and that’s quite a few) this was the best one I have seen to date in all aspects. Be sure to check them out on the remaining dates of the tour!