Panic! At The Disco is a band I’ve grown up with since my middle-school days, sitting in history class listening to A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out and the (then) newly released Pretty. Odd., through shared headphones with my friend. They’ve been a musical anchor and constant throughout all of my adolescent and now adult life, and a band that has come to have a special place in the emo caverns of my heart. Seeing Panic! live has, of course, always been a goal, and that middle school dream finally came to fruition Friday night at the Birmingham, AL stop of their Death of a Bachelor Tour.
It was a night packed full of excellent performances, starting with the equally as superb Saint Motel and Misterwives as the openers. Both bands could be poised for just as much greatness as Panic! if given the chance, and are two bands you will regret sleeping on. At 10-till-9, the projection screens above the stage flickered to life to the sound of a thousand screaming girls, displaying a ten minute countdown; and Brendon didn’t keep anyone waiting a moment past 0, taking the stage at exactly 9 p.m. sharp to “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time” – donned in a gold, leopard print jacket, and accompanied by confetti, gold streamers and pyrotechnics that rivaled that of a KISS concert.
Urie commanded the stage with such energy and candor that would have given even the biggest of rockstars pause. The setlist was a perfect combination of their first five albums, playing like a greatest hits set, with Urie sweeping through hits like “The Ballad Of Mona Lisa,” “Vegas Lights,” “Let’s Kill Tonight,” “Death of a Bachelor,” “Ready To Go (Get Out Of My Mind),” “Emperors New Clothes,” and “Miss Jackson,” with ease. He even made the songs that started it all, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” and “Nine In The Afternoon,” sound brand new. He took the piano on a rising and rotating b-stage, at the other end of the arena, for “This Is Gospel,” made his covers of Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out,” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” his own, gave a heartfelt moment of admiration respect to the LGBT+ community with “Girls/Girls/Boys,” and aptly closed with “Victorious.”
At one point during the show, Brendon took a moment to look around the arena and said, “I’ve been doing Panic! now for thirteen years. That’s crazy. Thank you.” My heart almost exploded. The roughly 22 song set flew by and I was left standing there, still covered in white confetti from “This Is Gospel,” already deep in post concert depression before I could even leave the arena. I’m still in awe of Brendon’s incredible vocals. For someone who’s been on the road for almost two months, you wouldn’t know. Overall, the show was was everything I needed and wanted it to be, and more.
Panic! has come a long way since the emo filled early days that I remember all too well. Brendon has seen the band through numerous lineup changes and obstacles, but has never given up on it, stuck with it, and always made sure the band evolved album after album – but staying true to who they’ve been since the beginning. While Urie himself has transformed into a true rockstar through and through, with a voice that is a force to be reckoned with and one that even has Freddie Mercury clapping from the beyond. It’s been a privilege to have been able to witness this band grow and evolve over the years into the pop-rock juggernaut that it is now, and thirteen years and five albums later are still just as astonishing as ever, if not more.