Nobody has ever said that Brendon Urie doesn’t have a flair for the dramatic. From the circus-themed live shows that supported Panic! At the Disco’s first album “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out,” to being covered in paint while playing the piano, to last years’ stint as the lead in Broadway’s “Kinky Boots,” Brendon Urie has always done everything he could to be entertaining. And the Aug. 3 show at the Wells Fargo Center was no different, even more than 10 years into his career.
Panic! At The Disco emerged in the mid-2000s alt-rock craze that brought bands like Fall Out Boy and Paramore to the mainstream. Through the years, Panic!’s sound has changed from more rock influenced to a more electronic and pop-centric sound as band members changed and left. Brendon Urie is now the only thread that connects 2005 Panic! to current Panic!, as it truly is a Brendon Urie solo project at this point. This has alienated some fans, especially those of their earlier work. However,in the overall picture Panic! is more popular than ever today, with their most recent album “Pray for the Wicked” reaching No. 1 of the Billboard charts. This was extremely evident at the Wells Fargo Center, as most of the fans looked like they were barely old enough to have been alive in 2005 when the band started.
Dance pop acts Arizona and Hayley Kiyoko provided entertaining opening sets, really bringing a lot of energy to what can sometimes be a chore of a wait to get to the headliner. In particular, Kiyoko had tons of fans up and dancing, acting as a sort of co-headliner. However, when a 10-minute timer appeared on the screen behind the stage, you could tell who everybody was there to see. Despite several lineup changes and many years on the scene, people still went wild when Urie launched through a trapdoor and started the real show.
Most of the night was dedicated to new songs from Panic!’s last two records, as one should expect from Panic! shows at this point. Even when they did play a song or two from their back catalog, it was certainly clear that Urie was simply going through the motions, playing songs out of necessity rather than actually wanting to. Surprisingly, a majority of people at the show were okay with this. Most of the biggest reactions of the night were for newer songs that I am fine admitting I didn’t really know. Other negatives included generally bad pacing, with strange interludes that served no purpose other than letting Urie get a sip of water, and some awful vocal mixing at points. Finally, there was little crowd interaction other than a moment that had Urie singing and walking through the crowd, giving out hugs, photographs and autographs.
Despite these flaws, the show contained its fair share of highlights as well. Brendon Urie clearly still knows how to put on a show. Some highlights include the various covers performed throughout the night, including a great version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. Another great moment was when Urie performed floating above the crowd on a platform with a piano, singing the beautiful ballad “Dying in L.A.” However, the best moment of the night was not a single song, but rather the general message of loving whoever and however you want. Many times throughout the night, whether in song or in speech, Urie and the openers preached ideas of loving oneself and those around you. For an audience of mostly teenagers, this was definitely a powerfully received message, and one that should stick with them through their formative years.
In these times of general unrest, it is good to see such a positive outpouring of support for loving others. I would definitely recommend catching Panic! At the Disco at some point even in the future, even as a jaded older fan like myself. Despite the lack of a back catalog performed, Brendon Urie and his band certainly still know how to put on a wonderful show with a powerful message.