Panic! At The Disco’s F-Bomb Fueled Sermon
Your first reaction as a late twenty-something in a crowd of teenage girls and their parents may be to feel out of place, but it doesn’t take much to dig back to that all too familiar hunger for things you wanted and didn’t have that cemented the experience of youth. That’s what a Panic! at The Disco show feels like, but only at first. Soon it hits you, “A Gospel for The Vagabonds” resonates. You’re still that kid pretending to be cooler than you were, listening to "A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out." And you still long for things you want that you can’t have, you’re still insatiable, it’s still you - and judging by the energy emanating from the stage at Lakewood that night, Panic! at The Disco, more than ten years later, is still them. And maybe, like wine (that most of the people attending couldn’t enjoy - but I totally did) they’ve gotten better with age. In fact, They released their fifth studio album, Death of a Bachelor in January of this year, earning the band its best sales week to date and first number one album.
In the middle of their set I had fully given in to the fact that I was ten years senior to most of the people rocking out to all the words around me, smiling and belting the lyrics right back at em’. Brendon Urie preached a timely sermon to the crowd. The message, though riddled with f-bombs, was a beautiful testament to the belief that all love, is in fact love:
“You can love whoever you want to love. You can f*ck whoever wants to f*ck you. And if they try to tell you otherwise, they’re trying to sell you fear, and you should tell them f*ck you.”
Also worth mentioning, lead singer Brendon Urie can hit a back flip without losing his breath and jump right back to the mic and you should know that about him. Because it’s not easy to don a leopard loose fitting shirt under a blazer with black leather pants in the southern summer heat - let alone do a back tuck and hit notes higher than you can see whilst looking through a telescope.
Case in point - they covered the high note rollercoaster of rock and roll anthem, “Bohemian Rhapsody” (apparently set to premiere on the Suicide Squad movie soundtrack) that Queen would’ve been proud of. Urie spoke into the mic, “I wish I’d written this song.” My first thought, right around that second “mama…” was that Freddy Mercury must’ve been dancing in his grave. One could only assume.
At the end of their set I had fallen into such a teenage angst ridden trance, I swear I was pissed that I had to be home by curfew and that I couldn’t go to Jessica’s birthday party before realizing that I was a full on adult. Brendon started in on Weezer, who was taking the stage next:
“It's Weezer dude. I go backstage and I'm like, it’s Weezer what the f*ck.”
This guy is loose lipped when it comes to his favorite four letter word, but the sentiment stands. You have to love a rock star that loves and respects other rock bands. And with that, the lights came on, the crew appeared, and the stage was reset for Weezer.
The West Coast, Weezer, and California Girls
Lights off. Lights on. Rivers Cuomo in a plaid shirt and a palm tree patterned guitar strap, attached to a teal guitar covered in more stickers than your favorite 90’s binder. He plays said guitar with fingers ornamented with chipped black and red nail polish. “My name is Jonas” fills the air. Beach balls and rainbow colored streamers cover the crowd. The drum set is silhouetted by the cutout of a lifeguard stand while scenes of the pacific coast play on the screen.
“Hola amigos” - Cuomo smiles into the crowd, “We are The Weezers.”
Weezer will forever remind me of my first Nokia cell phone, because “Island in The Sun” was my first ring tone. The ring tone itself was awful and it didn’t sound anything like the actual song, but that didn’t matter. I loved that ring tone the way I loved music, television shows, and really anything that came from the west coast. It only takes a few songs into the setlist for that beckoning for the pacific coast to stir up again, to a world full of towering palmtrees and awe inspiring sunsets. It also only takes a few songs to remind you that you know way more Weezer songs than you originally thought you did - and if there was a soundtrack backing your life - well mine anyway, it would have more than a few of their songs on it.
Weezer just released their tenth studio album with no signs of slowdown, in fact the self titled album, widely known as The White Album, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Rock & Alternative Albums Charts. Their setlist spanned their entire discography, playing newer hits like “King of the World,” and “Back to The Shack” but not skimping on crowd pleasers like “Pork and Beans” and “Buddy Holly.”
Their performance of the lyrically bizarre, evidently ironic single, “Thank God for Girls,” stole the show. As the song played, visions of the virgin Mary flashed on the screen. As the climax of the song hit, a roll of more modern images started to play, Ellen DeGeneres, Emma Watson, Oprah - the crowd of young girls starts going crazy at this point, and I’m a little overcome with pride at the next generation's love for female role models, not to mention Weezer’s feminist take on their performance. Maya Angelou, Caitln Jenner, Michelle Obama, Beyonce take their turns against the backdrop, while the crowd roars in approval, and just like that the music stops. As a deafening silence takes over the amphitheater, a billowing rainbow flag covers the entirety of the screen.
In a world full of questionable leadership and devastating news, it's a sweet respite to stand among reminders of angst ridden, but mostly carefree adolescence. The good news is, there are still girls with plaid button ups wrapped loosely around their hips, they still want to destroy your sweater, they still don't give a hoot about what you think, and that's promising.
Photos by Lacey Smith