A Brief History of Panic! at the Disco Through Their Live Performances

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Brendon Urie of Panic! At the Disco performs at the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Aug. 20, 2018 in New York City.

Panic! at the Disco has been an ever-evolving outfit over the years, undergoing several band lineup changes and experimenting with different blends of arena rock, psych-pop, emo and pop/rock. But one thing that has remained constant in Panic's near 15-year career is frontman Brendon Urie -- and his ability to completely dominate the stage.

Urie's impressive showmanship has helped Panic! land performances on just about every daytime and late-night talk show, as well as eight headlining tours of their own. And after this week, Panic! will have another major performance to list on their already impressive resume: the 2018 American Music Awards.

Though Urie and Co. will be paying tribute to Queen on the Oct. 9 show (ahead of the Bohemian Rhapsody biopic debut on Nov. 2), their AMAs performance adds another chapter to the story that is Panic's career, one that has practically been defined by the live experience. Before their first-ever AMAs appearance, check out Panic's performance evolution below. 

"I Write Sins Not Tragedies" -- MTV Video Music Awards, 2006

Any performance of Panic's breakout hit is a special one for the nostalgia alone, but considering this song was the one that got the group the video of the year award at their first VMAs ever, this particular performance was monumental for them. The then-sprightly teenagers brought their award-winning vid to life, with Urie donning a similar top-hat-and-suit combo and surrounded by women in Victorian wedding attire. Urie's vocals have gotten stronger since, but this "I Write Sins" performance was a certainly a memorable beginning.

"The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage" -- Nothing Rhymes With Circus Tour, 2006

Panic's first major headlining North American tour was just about as theatrical as they come, especially for a band that was considered pop-punk at the time. In line with the tour's title, the entire show had a very animated, burlesque feel -- complete with the band's name in flashing lights -- but the tour opener was the best spectacle. "The Only Difference" served as an introduction to Panic's fanciful productions, just with more attention on the entire atmosphere rather than Urie's entertaining skills.

"Northern Downpour" -- MTV Live at the Concert Hall, 2008

Even Urie has admitted that Pretty. Odd. is more of a studio album, which is why fans may notice Panic! no longer performs most of those tracks on tour. But luckily for those who adore the more down-tempo Panic!, the group still dedicated an entire tour to the album 10 years ago -- and the album actually isn't as boring live as Urie may think it is. In fact, "Northern Downpour" is arguably the most special of the record (at least in the live setting), stripping down their typically fast-paced production and highlighting Urie's harmonies with his then-bandmates.

"Let's Kill Tonight" drum solo -- Vices & Virtues Tour, 2011

At this point, Panic! had lost two of their original members -- lead guitarist Ryan Ross and bassist Jon Walker -- but Urie took it as an opportunity to prove that he never really needed consistent bandmates in the first place. Though a Brendon Urie drum solo (which starts at about 2:50 in the video below) wasn't a rarity in Panic's sets, his drum showcase post-departure of Ross and Walker allowed him to be the center of attention and remind fans that he's nearly as incredible a drummer as he is a singer.

"Bohemian Rhapsody" -- The Gospel Tour, 2014

For those who didn't believe Urie had powerhouse vocals, or doubted that he'd be able to make it without his original bandmates, all it took was one Queen song to prove himself in both respects. Emulating a legend like Freddie Mercury is no simple task, but Urie pulled it off so successfully that it was hard to pick which part of Panic!'s "Bohemian Rhapsody" performance was the most awe-inspiring: Urie's ability to hit every note, his piano playing skills, or his band's rock-your-face-off guitar riffs. Four years later, Panic's Queen cover still slaps -- and appears to have served as their ticket to the AMAs stage.

"Victorious" -- The Ellen DeGeneres Show, 2016

Panic! have brought their theatrics to Ellen a handful of times, and though their stage set-up for "Victorious" was the least extravagant, Urie's performance was unforgettable -- and essentially proved Panic! to be as fit for daytime TV as they are for arenas. The roaring Death of a Bachelor tune made for an electric performance in itself, but Urie's energy was infectious as he bounced around and eventually made his way into the crowd, even incorporating a back flip like it was nothing -- which he did again in his 2018 Ellen performance of "Say Amen (Saturday Night)."

"Girls/Girls/Boys" -- Death of a Bachelor Tour, 2017

Urie has always been flamboyant in his performances, but the audacious Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! track became Panic's unofficial LGBTQ anthem after fans surprised the group with rainbow-colored hearts throughout the crowd -- a tradition that now lives on at Panic! shows. Urie, who came out as pansexual earlier this summer, recently told Billboard that the fans' moving in-concert initiative inspired him to do more within his community and beyond ("They just did it because they felt the love. That's how I feel, how can I showcase that?"), making the song one of the most meaningful in Panic's catalog to date.

"Dying in LA" -- Pray For the Wicked Tour, 2018

After years of bringing contagious energy and mesmerizing antics to the stage, Panic's most recent tour includes a pinnacle live moment for Urie, who has been the sole official Panic! member since 2015. He performs on a floating platform while playing piano on "Dying in LA," first showing off his falsetto with a unique cover of Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" before seamlessly transitioning to a moving rendition of the impassioned Pray For the Wicked track. As if the floating platform isn't enough to captivate fans -- as well as the sea of bright lights that surround him -- Urie stands from the piano mid-performance to greet everyone in the crowd while still perfectly delivering each verse of the song. It's one of the most intimate live moments Panic! has ever had, but further proof that Urie is a true rock star.


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