Weezer and Panic! At The Disco with special guest Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
Friday, July 1, 2016 – Xfinity Center – Mansfield, Massachusetts
Brendon Urie’s falsetto is so high and clear you can hear it from the parking lot. I should know—I’m late.
Thankfully, I only miss ‘Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time’ and ‘Vegas Lights’, which although they’re good songs are not my favorites. Also the entirety of Andrew McMahon’s set. I sacrifice them to the Fourth of July traffic gods who have made me late and move on.
I arrive in time for ‘The Ballad Of Mona Lisa’ from ‘Vices & Virtues’ and ‘Hallelujah’ from the most recent album ‘Death of a Bachelor’. I’m humming along just fine, a casual fan of both albums, but when ‘Time To Dance’ comes on, I’m transported back to 2005, listening to the entirety of ‘A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out’ on my hot pink iPod mini. Humming turns to fist-pumping and screaming. That album, their first album, holds an eternal place on the emo shelf in my heart next to Fall Out Boy’s ‘Take This To Your Grave’ and a $1 black eyeliner pencil from Hot Topic.
Emo certainly is not dead, I realize as I survey the venue where I last saw Panic! perform in the mid-2000’s. Amongst the aging Weezer fans (am I an aging Panic! fan?), there’s a sprinkling of teenage girls with rainbow hair and bad roots, muddy Converses, and an undying commitment to memorizing every single one of Brendon Urie’s fast-talking lyrics. They’ve got that look in their eyes that only comes from seeing your idol brought to life, singing those lyrics you’ve memorized right to you.
‘Time To Dance’ supposedly references Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk’s book Invisible Monsters, as the line “give me envy, give me malice, give me your attention” comes directly from a Zoolander-like scene where a photographer tries to work with a model. It seems ironic, since Brendon Urie embraces if not enjoys playing model for an arena full of 20,000 iPhone photographers.
Panic! At The Disco has never been the type of band to ignore the fact that their fandom’s demographic consists mainly of teenage girls (and “girls” like me who’ve aged with them). Brendon knows exactly how to give them what they want without being overtly sexual, somehow always toeing the hair-thin line between too much and just enough. It’s a refreshing change. How many male performers ignore their teenage female fans? How many bands have been musically discredited because of their teenage female fans?
‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ comes and goes, but ‘Girls/Girls/Boys’ inevitably has you envisioning Brendon naked if you’ve ever so much as glanced at the music video. You can’t help it, you’ve been conditioned.
He’s content to be the object of female gaze (a nice societal change), further proven as nostalgic ‘Nine In The Afternoon’ fades away and ‘Crazy=Genius’ leads into a massive drumming competition between Brendon and the band’s drummer. He strips off his shirt—these past eleven years have been mighty kind, if I do say so—and puts on an impressive percussion show, although it’s hard to focus on anything but his skin anymore.
Brendon’s as wet as the audience now (did I mention it’s starting to rain?), long hair spiked with sweat and falling in his eyes as he tells the tale of growing up in Las Vegas where elicit drugs were all too readily available. Some girls you meet just plain suck, he explains, before launching into one of the biggest bangers on the album, ‘Miss Jackson’.
‘Golden Days’ reminds me of Fall Out Boy’s song ‘Golden’, both a bit of a rose-colored glasses sort of wistful tune, but it’s immediately followed by a phenomenal cover of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ that’s even got all the Weezer fans on their feet. Brendon’s voice just might be tailor-made to do Queen covers (don’t tell Adam Lambert).
‘LA Devotee’ is similar to the city it speaks of, catchy but without much substance. ‘Death Of A Bachelor’, the song the album’s named after, is similarly catchy but with more fun areas for Brendon to show off vocally. ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ is undoubtedly the biggest and most emotional throwback of the set list, a reminder that what was arguably the worst song on the whole ‘A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out’ album is the one people know the best. (Brendon’s pleasant squawk at hearing the crowd yell, “Whore!” is endearing.) I want to hand the whole crowd copies of that first album and make them listen to the rest. Have they ever heard ‘Lying Is The Most Fun’? This is so important.
He dedicates ‘This Is Gospel’ to ex-bandmate Spencer’s two years of sobriety. He hypes up the Weezer fans by mentioning what it’s like for him, also a Weezer fan who grew up learning instruments to Weezer songs, to see the guys backstage and not trip over himself trying to get them a bottle of water. The show ends with ‘Victorious’, a song I’m positive should’ve smashed the American top 40 charts but never seemed to catch on. There’s streaks of lightening in the sky now, the rain starts to really pick up, and I feel like I’m being baptized; cleansed of my musical sins and returned to my original 2005 soft emo phase.
You can buy Panic! At The Disco’s most recent album ‘Death of a Bachelor’ on iTunes here.