William Rosenthal ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Panic! At The Disco has always been criticized for their sound. Every album they have released has been met with mixed reception from critics and fans. On top of that, changes in the band’s presentation and line-up have made it difficult for them to remain consistent. Despite all this, however, Panic! At The Disco’s memorable videos and constant interaction with fans has kept their popularity alive. But those popular aspects have difficulties when presented live, and that became apparent at their recent show in Boston at the House of Blues.
Two other bands, X Ambassadors and The Colourist, opened for Panic!. Singer Sam Harris and pianist Casey Harris of X Ambassadors exuded a special kind of energy, making them a surprise favorite of the evening. Despite being openers, their presence was well received by the crowd. Sam’s saxophone got a riel from the audience, while Casey’s improv and feel for the music was solid. The Colourist, however, was less memorable. Their music was melodic, but not distinct compared to the acts leading or proceeding them.
The floor had remained calm for most of the evening. Even towards the front, people had enough space to move comfortably. But even before The Colourists left the stage, the crowd surged forward, literally sweeping me off my feet. From this point on, I remained pressed against everyone next to me while struggling to have even one foot on the ground. Then, it happened: Panic! came on and played their opener, Vegas Lights.
The band started strong. They tried to match the audience’s energy and elevate the excitement. The audience, however, was always more into it than the band itself. Audience members were shoving each other around, packing the front closer and closer into the rail.
After a few more songs, the band started to get boring. It was pretty obvious the had a formula: Song, techno sounding interlude, song, 50’s sounding bumper, song. It was also clear that they hadn’t altered the songs for the live show. In fact, they tried very hard to replicate the sound of their studio recordings with heavy synth tracks and sampling, which was apparent in songs such as “But It’s Better If We Do.”
There wasn’t much of an attempt to make the essence of the music come through during the performance by the band, and part of that could be because of the constant change in line up. Brenden Urie and drummer Spencer Smith have been in Panic! since the beginning, but with Smith off the tour due to illness, drums were handled by a fill-in and the bass and guitar parts were handled by touring members. It’s as though the band members don’t have a single unified vision for their live show, making the performance confusing and even a bit disappointing at times.
With only one longstanding member present, attention was mostly focused on frontman Brenden Urie. He is an excellent singer on live and studio records, but here, he was overshadowed by the intensity of the audience and his unique high notes were completely lost in the levels. He also didn’t give off a real stage presence. Often times, he’d have his eyes closed or was looking down. He rarely acknowledged the audience during the songs.
Panic! Chose to end the night with two covers, one of “That’s The Way You Want it” by Journey and another of “You Shook Me All Night Long” by ACDC. Then, to really wrap the show up and end on a high note, the band played their hit song “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” leaving the audience screaming for more.
The band has more than a few upcoming dates left on their tour, so if you still want to check them out, make sure to snag one of their coveted tickets before they sell out. And let Emertainment Monthly know in the comments below what you think of their live show.