If you’ve been living under a rock since 2009, it may come as a surprise to you that Panic! at the Disco no longer sounds like they did when “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” and the accompanying music video took MTV and 2005 by storm. If you’re a fan of creative stagnation, hate personal growth and think a pop/rock/Broadway mashup is gaudy and unnecessary, then you’ll be sorely disappointed in the band they’ve become. Brendon Urie has transformed the image of the band from somewhat of a one-hit wonder to a thriving giant in the pop music scene.
From the moment I walked into the Infinite Energy Center, “infinite energy” would be the perfect description of the excitement and passion that the fans had for not just Panic! but for music in general. The overall message of the night, that was reiterated by Urie throughout the 28-song, marathon set was that everyone matters. “Even if you don’t think you do, you make an impact on someone. WIthout you guys here, this would just be a rehearsal. You mean a lot to me,” Urie stated confidently between songs early in the set. This established a tone of love, respect and humility that put everyone in the nearly sold-out arena on equal footing.
Beyond simply telling the crowd how much they were appreciated, the Broadway-caliber production showed off how much the musicians and crew worked to create such an enrapturing experience. Between the expected flairs like fireballs and confetti cannons and unexpected delights like Urie’s rendition of “Dying in LA,” performed while traversing the length of the arena above the crowd on a grand piano. Before his flying piano adventure, Urie performed the title track from the 2016 album Death of a Bachelor while walking through the floor area hugging fans, taking selfies and collecting several pride flags on his way to his piano by the sound booth.
Pride is an important part of Panic! at the Disco, as many of their songs deal with issues like self-acceptance and self-confidence, not to mention the Highest Hopes Foundation, which is Panic! at the Disco’s effort to support organizations that help advance rights for the LGBTQ+ community as well as any other communities that face discrimination. During the song “Girls/Girls/Boys,” paper hearts placed on each seat in the stadium were used as light filters to create a gorgeous display of colors. The entire arena reflected the rainbow of colors that is the pride flag as Urie sang the song that contains the lyrics printed on the paper hearts, “Love is not a choice.”
Other than deep messages about self-worth and civil rights, which are crucial to the identity of Panic! at the Disco, the most important part of their set is that it’s just plain fun. I had the pleasure of seeing Panic! move into the headliner’s spot at Hangout after a last-second cancellation, and they made me wonder how they didn’t have the closing slot already. This show was no exception to that standard. The set design was breathtaking, with stunning visuals, rising platforms and trap doors that were utilized to their full potential, and the musicians were flawless as well.
Panic! at the Disco are the perfect example of a band that cares deeply for their fans, and the effort they give on stage each night proves it. Urie’s Broadway experience as a lead in Cyndi Lauper’s Tony Award-winning Kinky Boots translates flawlessly to his touring show as Panic! at the Disco, and fans are reaping the benefits.
Photos by Sidney Spear for Bullet Music