music / San Francisco / Shows

Panic! at the Fox Theater

My experience with this concert started at five in the afternoon, when I arrived in Oakland to begin the long wait for a decent place in the pit. As usual, there were good and bad people waiting in line with me, and I even got to know a little bit about the couple immediately ahead of me – North Bay locals with some interesting stories about Sacramento’s Aftershock. Over the three hour wait, I saw plenty of people that were obviously veterans and some who were very obviously not. When the doors opened, though, there was a uniform rush to get inside.

Having a bit of experience with concerts myself, I made a beeline for the merch table, knowing the line would only get longer and the options only fewer if I waited. Still, I managed to make my purchases, cleverly affix them to my person so as to keep them safe, and make it into the crowd by the time the first opener took the stage.

Having left the opening bands as a surprise for myself, I knew nothing about X Ambassadors or The Colourist. X Ambassadors played first, an indie rock foursome with a relatively mellow sound. Given the new, less frantic sound Panic! at the Disco has been using for their latest album and tour, X Ambassadors fit right in, but didn’t do much to get the crowd excited. By the end of their set, I was left thinking I would probably check them out as a studio band, but more than ready to move onto something more exciting for this particular show.

The Colourist went further toward working up the crowd, having a more rock and roll sound as well as the always welcome surprise of having a woman on drums, and even singing from behind the kit. In a concert somewhat lacking overall in band-crowd interaction, The Colourist made a good go of it, working the room into more enthusiasm (and inevitably more shoving for the front rows) with a bit of well-placed banter. I was a bit sad to see the end of their set, but finally pumped for the headliner.

It may be noted that my normal place in a crowd is as far forward as I can physically wedge myself, but due to some complications, I was a bit farther back for this concert. While this might’ve been a bit frustrating, I did have an excellent vantage point to see not Brendon Urie’s sweat in high definition, but rather the entirety of the stage. Fortunate for me, as the band was clearly intent on using the entire stage. Throughout the show, Panic! used everything available to them as far as space goes, making for an infectiously energetic performance.

Opening with a song off their newest album, Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die, the crowd was reminded that this was not the old Panic!, to the muffled bafflement of some near me. Vegas Lights made an excellent opening song, halfway between the more pop-punk style of older Panic! songs and the stripped down feel of some of their more recent music. From there, it was a healthy mix of old and new, the crowd surging for their favorites and quickly warming up to newer material. With Brendon Urie singing from every possible part of the stage and Dallon Weekes constantly on the move, inviting the audience to sing along by graciously offering his own mic to the crowd, it would have been difficult not to get sucked in to the energy of the show.

Visually, the setup was stunning, with screens storytelling along with each song and the band utilizing everything to the point of almost becoming a stage drama. This is Gospel in particular came with a backdrop to be proud of, transforming the stage into the band’s personal pulpit. Panic! at the Disco has always tended toward the theatrical, and though their music style has run through some at times staggering variations, their performances have never failed to capture more than just the audience’s aural attention, and this was no exception. As their second to last show for this tour, it’s safe to say Panic! at the Disco is ending things on a high note.

Words AnSimone

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