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Last night I went to the opening night of the Honda Civic Tour a.k.a. Panic at the Disco Tour (don’t you love corporate sponsorship of EVERYTHING now?) It was a great lineup, with Phantom Planet, The Hush Sound, and Motion City Soundtrack opening up for panic. The concert was held at the Warfield in San Francisco, a nice little venue with lots of downtown charm, if you know what I mean. After meandering my way past the homeless contingent’s shopping carts and seedy strip clubs lining Market street, I made my way into the theater.

The Warfield is a San Francisco institution. The theater seats a lot of people, but the balcony and ground floor allows for a close view of the bands from every seat in the joint. Basically there is no bad seat in the Warfield. The concertgoers were mostly teenagers and people in their early twenties. Being in my mid-twenties, I was one of the older people there which was fun for me (can you detect sarcasm in written word?). The young people all seemed to agree on a uniform of choice–skin-tight jeans with sneakers and a hoodie. There were variations on this theme, but the main idea was the same. I loved that I was wearing green jeans at least, to stand out a little.

The first band that played, Phantom Planet. was the best opening act of the three, in my opinion. This band, for those of you who are unawares, is responsible for that hopelessly catchy tune “California” that is (was) featured in the opening credits of the television show “The O.C.” I don’t even watch the show, but I think the song is good. Their other songs were good as well, my favorite being “Big Brat.” Because there were so many opening acts, each one only played about 5 or 6 songs max. The Hush Sound was unremarkable, but I found their dueling male-female singers unusual in a good way, and any band that features the piano as one of it’s main instruments can’t be all bad in my opinion. Motion City Soundtrack was pretty good, but the lead singer’s hair and the outrageous keyboard player’s antics distracted me from any real enjoyment of the music itself.

First of all, I have to mention that there was a really annoying activity that was going on in between acts. A screen was in the background on stage and would show various music videos (OK, something to pass the time), Honda Civic commercials (disgusting corporate whoring) and the worst of all, the displaying of people’s texts. This is how it worked: The screen would have a scroll going constantly on the bottom saying to text messages to a certain number, and they would be displayed on the bottom of this big screen for all to see. There were a lot of “Show sum luv to the 916” and “Casie and Jodie ❤ Panic”, as well as a lot of “Brendon is hott” (Brendon is Panic’s lead singer) and “Scream if you luv panic”. In fact, there were WAY too many of the “Scream if you…”‘s. And after each one, the mindless teens in the audience would squeal with delight, happy to be a part of something, ANYTHING, no matter how futile and inane. There was “Scream if you luv Miley Cyrus”, “Scream if you luv Harry Potter”, “Scream if you luv Hush Sound”. My personal favorite was “Scream if you are sick of people screaming.” I think I actually might have screamed for that one.

Then the main event: Panic at the Disco. The stage was set up like Indian hookah den-meets-Alice in Wonderland acid trip. There were three small oriental rugs on the stage, with a mic stand covered in flowers in front of each. The back featured a drum set on a flowered riser and the other equipment, like keyboards and sound equipment, was set up on a riser that looked like a giant storybook that read “Panic at the Disco” on the spine. The screen in the back featured various backdrops that changed during the songs. Most were trippy flowered scenes and other psychedelic imagery, which totally fits with Panic’s new Beatles-esque image. The band themselves were dressed in button-down shirts, jeans, Beatle-boots, and vests. A change a pace from their Edwardian-Gothic vibe from the last tour (not a smidgen of eyeliner in sight).

Overall I loved the concert. The band played a great mix of both their last album and the newest one. They sounded good live, but the new material was played MUCH better than the old. I think the new material lends itself better to being played live than the older stuff, which had a lot more studio effects and techno beats. The new stuff is just plain good old-fashioned music, which I LOVED. No gimmicks, tricks, stage performances, nothing. Panic just focused on their musicality which was brilliant. My favorites were their renditions of “That Green Gentleman”, “Northern Downpour”, and a fantastic solo effort by Brendon of “I Have Friends in Holy Spaces.” They seemed to breeze through their older material, in fact they seemed to almost hesitant to play their biggest and most overplayed hit from the last album “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.” But they really seemed to relish playing the new stuff, which makes sense because the new material is just plain good fun music, and not angst-driven techno-punk (although that was pretty brilliant music too).

The concert was so great, I had always loved Panic but had never seen them live. Aside from the annoying text messaging fiasco and the man who smelled like an ashtray sitting next to me, the experience was pretty much perfect.

And my ears are still ringing.

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2 Comments

  1. Agreed on the New album being WAYYYYYYYYYY better than the old one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Behind The Sea = ❤

  2. I didn’t mean to imply that the new album is necessarily better–both are so different that it’s hard to really compare. But the new album does put me in a happy place full of sunflowers, lollipops and happy hopping bunnies. So that’s good, right? I have to say The Piano Knows Something I Don’t Know and Northern Downpour are tied for my faves, though Pas De Cheval is up there too. They didn’t play The Piano Knows Something… at the concert though, and I was bummed.


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