all photo credits: weworemasks
I’ll be the first to admit that while I really like both of these bands, going to their joint show with a crowd that was undoubtedly going to be younger than me all the way across the board isn’t my cup of tea. I’m not trying to be the bitter drunk guy who sits in the back and mumbles that “he saw Panic! in 2005” or “Have you even heard of The Format?” – scratch that, I am trying to be that guy. Because of such a circumstance, I was completely wary of this show. However, the tour stopped by Houston’s House of Blues on Wednesday night and I attended hoping to have a good time and of course, be proven wrong of all my jaded delusions. Recap after the jump. All photos are credited to weworemasks.
[ed. note – There’s an interview with Nate Reuss of fun. coming soon!]
[ed note: I know this picture sucks, I missed the photo pit opportunity though]
Funeral Party opened up the show. Now while band names may be misleading, these guys were dead on (if you ignore the fact that the name is a song by The Cure) Frantic art-punk at the cost of high-energy dance floor jams that fans of Bloc Party and The Strokes (yes, it has to be both of them) would appreciate. There was an element of brooding here, while the band played to a dimmed backdrop, with only small spotlights highlighting each band member. The Los Angeles quartet breezed through their set and performed songs from their debut album, The Golden Age of Knowhere – and my only complaint is that I missed the first 3 songs.
Having seen fun. before, I knew exactly what to expect. As soon as they hit the stage, a tightened stage set up with a few more band members playing auxiliary instruments and a much more arena-friendly sound was the status quo. This wasn’t the support slot on the Manchester Orchestra tour, or even their headline tour last November. A Jack Antonoff-less fun. played mostly songs off of their 2009 debut, Aim & Ignite, while sprinkling in a new song to open the set.
The usually self-aware Nate Reuss was in full-out rock and roll spirit, dashing back and forth, jumping up and getting the Panic!-centric crowd into their set. And throughout, he showed as much earnestness and a genuine love for people that you could find in a frontman who writes sad songs about himself. The crowd ate it all up, too. “Barlights” found the sold-out House of Blues attendance singing the “I feel alive” bridge with no reservations for 3 minutes straight, and there’s never been a better set-closer than “Take Your Time (Coming Home).” With unrequited love for the old fans and new fans alike, fun. promised a new album this summer and of course, a trip back to Houston.
Here’s where it gets tricky. I am a huge advocate of Panic! at the Disco’s first two albums. Both, in their own right, are great pop albums that sneak their way onto playlists. From the one or two listens I’ve given to Vices & Virtues, it’s safe to say that core members Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith found a sound that fans of both albums can enjoy. That’s a good thing, considering their 17-song set gave huge nods to that album, playing 8 of 10 of the album’s tracks.
It’s been close to 5 years since I’ve seen Panic! at the Disco perform, and there’s no arguing that their show is infinitely better now. The stage is cloaked in Vaudevillian garb, textured backdrops and bright spotlights. Urie is a multi-instrumentalist, never shying away from picking up a guitar (acoustic and electric), hopping on the keyboards or playing a tambourine. He’s spastic and vibrant; everything you want in a frontman of a rock band. The rest of the band is hired help, as the album only credits Urie and Smith for songwriting.
There are always bands where you feel that “their first album is the best,” and it seemed that these guy fellas knew and embraced it. While they only played two songs from 2008’s Pretty.Odd, a whopping five from their 2005 debut, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, were showcased. The crowd soaked in the high-energy pop tracks, slightly peaking when Panic! brought out fun. for their recent “C’mon collaboration. The best quality in these Panic! boys is that they know their place. They know that their fans are young, many of whom were chaperoned to the show by their parents. In the encore, the parents didn’t leave unappreciated, as they performed Kansas’ seminal “Carry On My Wayward Son,” to the stark confusion of most of the crowd, and eventually closing out the night with “Nearly Witches.” It was good to feel young again.
We Are Young (new song)
Walking the Dog
I Wanna Be The One
All the Pretty Girls
At Least I’m Not as Sad (As I Used to Be)
Take Your Time (Coming Home)
[Panic! at the Disco Setlist]
Ready To Go
But It’s Better If You Do
The Ballad of Monalisa
Lying to a Girl is the Most Fun…
C’mon (with fun.)
The Only Difference Between Martyrdom…
Let’s Kill Tonight
Nine in the Afternoon
That Green Gentleman
I Write Sins Not Tragedies
Carry On My Wayward Son (Kansas Cover)