Panic! At The Disco Has a Frenetic ‘Bachelor’ Party at New York's Le Poisson Rouge: Live Review
On the eve of the release of their fifth LP, Panic! At The Disco brought their delightfully frenetic energy to New York’s Le Poisson Rouge on Thursday (Jan. 14). With its low ceilings, sonic heart-attack sound system, and small stage, the venue is a stark contrast to London’s robust O2 Academy where the band kicked off the week’s Death of a Bachelor festivities on Tuesday night (Jan. 12). But Le Poisson Rouge's intimate space hardly swayed frontman Brendon Urie to dial anything down at the sold-out Bleecker Street banger.
“I told myself I was gonna pace myself tonight. There’s NO fucking way that’s gonna happen,” the singer proclaimed to the crowd with a goofy grin after marathoning through “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time,” “Vegas Lights,” and “LA Devotee” to start the night off strong.
After ten years of being Panic!’s mastermind, Urie’s fifth album has had him running point creatively moreso than ever. “In the past, I was writing most of everything, but this time it was actually all me. I got to record every instrument on this album, except for the horns, which was a huge deal for me,” he told Billboard recently. “Everything I’m writing about is very close to my heart and very much about what I’ve been through, mostly in the last couple of years.”
The night was both a bookend and a fresh chapter, a testament to the fever Panic! devotees have yet to sweat out. There was a go-to Queen cover. Urie nearly botched one of his signature backflips (“Zach our tour manager almost just died, you guys!”) and ditched his blazer somewhere in between “Let’s Kill Tonight” and “Nicotine.” (So basically, a bachelor party.)
Sonically, Urie and his best men of the moment (Dallon Weekes, Kenneth Harris, and Daneil Pawlovich) came to win. As a rocker with “please sing the phone book” vocals, Urie is a punk rock rarity, a unicorn, throwing in wildcard high notes for flair at every opportunity. Backed by the boisterous bass, guitar, and drums, he thrilled from the anthemic “Ballad of Mona Lisa” to upbeat piano clanger “Nine In The Afternoon,” the latter of which was the only track from the band’s sophomore album Pretty. Odd. to get shown love in the usual set list.
Herein lies the show's low point: While there’s something to be said for having fans who know every word, the element of surprise was distinctly lacking for the band that sings about “champagne, cocaine, gasoline, and most things in between.”
Of course, Urie covered the song he wishes he wrote (again): “Bohemian Rhapsody.” And while being Panic!’s pinnacle for a decade entitles him to have a few old reliables, that’s where “Lying Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off” and Hot 100 top 10er “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” can come in (and did, to the crowd’s ecstatic delight).
As evidenced by their ultra-vibey “Death of a Bachelor” music video, Urie’s on a major Sinatra kick as of late. But alas, an Ol’ Blue Eyes cover didn’t make the Poisson Rouge set. Even the new record’s title track would have been a welcome change. Pop punk’s crooner threw in a bite-sized segment of David Bowie’s “Oh! You Pretty Things” at the London show, and timeliness wasn’t the only factor that made Urie’s tribute work so well.
“We don’t want anyone telling us what to do. We don’t want anyone pushing us around. We want to be free,” was the statement broadcast at the evening’s outset. In P!ATD’s case, “free” seems to mean being one with the fans, reciting “Hallelujah” and “Miss Jackson,” and jumping up and down like the bedroom rock star everyone loves to be at 16 years old. And it works; Urie exudes the boyish charisma, rock‘n’roll sensuality, and musical prowess necessary to keep fans coming back to Panic!. However, allegedly bachelors no more, Panic! At The Disco seems to be married to the tricks they know will please the crowd.
“I feel good. No, fuck that. I feel GREAT,” Urie bellowed towards the evening’s end, not unlike a groom-to-be teeming with nervous energy. While Panic! At The Disco will always get an A-plus for energy, hopefully the Death of a Bachelor release will inspire set list spice-ups for a music love built to last.
Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time
Time to Dance (“Let’s Dance”)
The Ballad of Mona Lisa
Let’s Kill Tonight
Nine in the Afternoon
Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen Cover)
I Write Sins Not Tragedies
Lying Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off
This is Gospel
Emperor’s New Clothes