|All photos by Agatha Donkar
Panic! at the Disco broke a 100 year old venue in Atlanta on Saturday.
Their clever and catchy 2013 release Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! has done exceptionally well — and it should, because it’s an exceptional dance pop record — and Saturday’s set was one of many already sold-out US tour dates. The band bounded onstage at 9:45, launched into “Vegas Lights”, and, down in the photo pit, the floor under my feet started to vibrate so hard that you could actually see the movement. Panic! then took on “Time To Dance” from their first LP, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, and rumbled through it convincingly while the crowd got more and more raucous.
And then … a security guard had an extended whispered conversation with frontman Brendon Urie. And then … Brendon suggested that maybe the crowd could show their enthusiasm in a less physical way. And then … by then, the crowd had cracked the floor on the main level and begun to do structural damage to the building. Venue personnel hustled us photographers out of the pit, security started evacuating the crowd, and a sold-out show turned into a two-song teaser of brilliance. (I don’t know if any security people asked the crowd to leave without “panicking at the disco”, but seriously, if they didn’t, they missed an opportunity to make a terrible joke I would love.)
There isn’t much you can do when the security in a place says, “Please leave, you are breaking out building.” But it was as much a disappointment to me as it was to the tiny groups of underdressed teenagers and twenty-somethings huddled together in the street outside the Tab, the people you think of as being Panic!’s regular audience; the two songs I saw confirmed what I thought about Panic!’s record last year: they’re gone from being a punchline emo pop punk band to just being a good band. Too Weird To Live is a genuinely smart “big dumb dance record”, and the teaser of “Vegas Lights” just makes me wish we’d gotten to see the rest of the set, because I bet the rest of the record would have been as great. Panic! at the Disco is a band you should watch now, no matter what you thought of them in 2007: stellar performers, great songwriters, and excellent musicians.
Just make sure all your venues are up to the stress of containing their fans. You never know what they might break next!