Panic! At The Plaza
When the remnants of your emo middle school past crawl their way back into your life, the meek run for cover and the courageous embrace the embarrassing nostalgia. As soon as I read the event description for the free Panic! At the Disco concert on September 17th, I flashed back to the height of my fangirl career – the ten Panic! shirts I wore in rotation, the hours I spent waiting in line to get to the barricade for all of their shows, the fact that I was once listed as ‘Mrs. Brendon Urie’ in my best friend’s phone – and I immediately knew what I had to do.
I was unsure of what to expect from the show. After all, the band has dwindled down to only one original member, lead singer Brendon Urie, their most recent album was released two years ago, and the latest single they’ve dropped, “Hallelujah,” exhibits a gospel sound that was notably absent from anything that interested middle-school-me. But Panic! has always been a successful loose cannon throughout their ten years, so I had high hopes for the experience.
I was not disappointed, and judging by their vibrant energy, neither were the thousands of other people who gathered at City Hall Plaza to see the show. Parents, sentimental twenty-somethings like myself, enthusiastic teens and even a few attendees in full animal costumes jumped and sang along to the music like there was no place they’d rather be, proving that Panic!’s fans are just as diverse as their material.
The band performed an even mix of songs from their four albums and all of them were well-received. Newer songs like “Vegas Lights,” “Girls/Girls/Boys,” and “Nicotine” were met with just as many screams of approval as old favorites like “Time to Dance,” “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage,” and “Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off.”
Panic! added a few twists to the end of their set with an adventurous cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and a mashup of two 1980’s classics, “Anyway You Want It” by Journey and AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.”(The parents really went wild for those two tracks; I wondered if the members of Panic! had predicted that demographic as a portion of their audience). Urie also took the opportunity to indulge in some death metal screaming in homage to “Positive Hardcore Thursday,” a regular feature on his Vine account where he delivers uplifting messages using the menacing singing technique.
The band closed with their most popular song, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” otherwise known as everyone’s ringtone in 2006. But the song might as well have come out this year with the way that the crowd responded to it. As I looked around me, I couldn’t help but realize how extraordinary it is that a band like Panic! can mean so much to such a wide range of people and that a song can make a crowd lose its mind just the way it did ten years before. And then I stopped looking around me, I stopped drawing conclusions, and I started singing along too.