With a decade-long career that has survived several member departures and includes four stylistically different albums, Panic! at the Disco and its musical trajectory have been anything but ordinary.
Sunday night's wide-ranging show at Pier Six Pavilion reflected the emo-turned-alternative-rock trio's unpredictable career. Following two opening acts (Magic Man and Walk the Moon), Panic! hit the stage with high-energy tracks (“Vegas Lights,” “Time to Dance”). The heat of the summer night led to a quick and necessary costume change for frontman and multi-instrumentalist Brendon Urie.
“I look done,” he told the crowd as sweat dripped down his face, “but I’m just getting started!” He then stripped off his shirt and gold jacket to the delight of what sounded like every teenage girl in the crowd.
Urie entertained the crowd with on-stage acrobatics, slick dance moves and impressive vocals, which sound just as good live as they do on record. In fact, Urie proved the true power of his voice as he moved easily from his highest to his lowest notes without a hint of discomfort.
Panic! kept the energy high for the entirety of their 22-song set, while igniting the crowd's enthusiasm. Bassist Dallon Weekes won many hearts when he threw into the audience picks he had licked. The fervor reached a new high during the band’s performance of last year's “Miss Jackson,” when Urie took a huge pause before executing a backflip off the drum riser.
Panic! played for 90 minutes, focusing heavily on tracks from new album, "Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!" (“Girls/Girls/Boys,” “Nicotine,” “Collar Full”) Those songs revolve around the band’s hometown of Las Vegas, and Sin City’s influence can be seen in every part of the show — from the band’s clothing to the piano base where a giant exclamation point changes color, all surrounded by a light show that could power the Strip.
Urie spoke very little during the show, but the crowd felt the band’s emotions throughout its songs. When Panic! played “The End of All Things,” another track from the new album, a sea of lights greeted them as fans held their cellphones, imbuing the entire arena with the softness and tenderness of the song’s message. Everyone in the audience then joined Urie as he crooned Queen’s classic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a welcome surprise to the set, and cheered as a he nailed Freddie Mercury’s famous high note.
Saving two of its best tracks for last, Panic! returned for a three-song encore of “This is Gospel” and “I Write Sins Not Tragedies." In between the two songs, Urie, ever full of surprises, treated the audience to a special styling that only his Vine followers had previously enjoyed.
“I do this thing [on Vine] called ‘Positive-Hardcore,'” Urie explained. The audience’s reaction was explosive. “You guys know about it, that’s crazy!” Urie then sang 40 seconds of positive affirmations in a heavy-metal style, complete with growls, screeches and blisteringly high falsetto notes.
This addition to the set, born from the singer's social media presence, encapsulated Panic!’s show Sunday night: A little bit of the unconventional, a crazy amount of fun and a whole lot of heart.
Emma Schkloven is a former intern at the Baltimore Sun, and a recent graduate of Towson University. She last reviewed Matt Nathanson at Rams Head Live in November.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun