Panic At The Disco

support Black Gold
author TL date 27/02/08 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

It's strange how trends can come and go. One instant you're the talk of the town with all eyes on you and the next you've faded right back into obscurity. Now anyone who's been keeping half an eye on the music scene for the past couple of years would probably not be likely to think Panic At The Disco (now without exclamation mark!) is going to be forgotten any time soon. Nevertheless, despite the fact that over the last year, Panic-songs have seen time on the mainstream charts here in Denmark, the 5-6 months having gone by since the last of their singles left those same charts have seemingly already taken their toll on the turnout at tonights show. I remember vividly the massive congregation of drunken scenesters present at the band's show in 2006 and while that was at the moment of their explosion into international fame, it was still before the majority of the Danish public was aware of the band. So I'm wondering why all the scenesters seem to have forgotten about Panic tonight, and why there are so few 'ordinary' concert-goers present to check out the show. Roughly half of the people here seem unlikely to be more than 16 years old, half of those seem to be Swedish and the other 50% are most likely the kids' parents, keeping an eye on them in this dangerous rock'n'roll environment (...).

I quit wondering about just how trendy PATD is at the moment, as soon as I realize the obvious advantage tonight's crowd provide me, as my 181 cm of height place me in an altitude ideal for looking over the heads of everyone else. Makes me wish metal was popular in the grade schools as well. Anyway, enough with the smalltalk - Tonight's warm up band is Black Gold, a four piece fronted by vocalist Eric Ronick sitting behind a small keyboard. In their arsenal they have both skill, good sound and a handful of uplifting and infectious indie-pop songs. The crowd receives them with polite excitement, but the difference is unmistakable as the teens scream in unison when Brendon Urie of Panic At The Disco join the band on stage for the chorus of one of their songs. Black Gold's set is actually quite enjoyable, but nothing more than that. It seems they've taken the support role a bit too seriously, as they're a bit too anonymous in their performance, being hindered also by the fact that a frontman who has to excite the crowd isn't really in the best position behind a piano. I'd recommend the guys to either find one more guy to relieve Eric from his duty behind the keys, or failing that, to simply arrange the keyboard in a way so he can stand up and seem alive while playing. Perhaps if they'd done that I might also not have noticed how frighteningly similar all their songs seem to be.

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After the obligatory wait while the scene is being set up for the headliners Panic At The Disco walks on, again accompanied by a vast chorus of girly screams that would have seemed at home at a Westlife concert. To my surprise they also bring Eric of Black Gold back on stage and as he takes position behind a keyboard, hope is awakened in me that this means Brendon won't have to hide behind the keyboard during this set. The set opens with the intro track from the new album called "We're So Starving" and then proceeding predictably enough with the new single "Nine In The Afternoon". It's followed by "But It's Better If You Do", which to my confusion sees Brendon sit by a second keyboard anyway, however, the song is delivered so convincingly that it gets everybody dancing with no need for the singer's encouragement - And this kind of phenomenon proceeds to become characteristic for the show. Last time around, Panic's show in Vega was a somewhat messy affair, and it was hard not to think that the band's rise to fame had come too quickly for them to refine their expression into something strong enough to measure up with the hype. Tonight was a whole different matter, as the band, having dropped all gimmicks and techno-sounds, delivered their quality songs with only the basic instruments and some pedals, and adding a flood of musical kinks and quirks to the soundscape. Brendon playfully changes note and pitch every once in a while, fooling and impressing the audience at the same time, and these small displays of extra energy and joy to play are so much more convincing than any techno-sample would've ever been. Between songs the band takes plenty of time to mess around with each other and talk to the crowd, creating a good feeling and a casual connection with the crowd. In total it simply suits the band incredibly well having exchanged all the electronic gimmicks and cabaret concepts, for a more casual and minimalistic expression that leaves their more basic musical talents room to shine, effectively leaving the band even more charming than before.

All of this makes the rendition of every good song from the debut album as well as a handful of new ones seem like a win-win situation for the audience, not only letting them hear the songs they love and came for, but also letting them hear them in fresh and refined versions. To further add to the roses I'm sending Panic's way, someone seems to have understood the difference between 'good' and 'loud' meaning that even a blind person would have had a ball enjoying the sound of tonight's concert. There's simply nothing justifying any disappointment among the crowd tonight, and people seem to agree with me, as they dance and sing along with impressive lyrical precision to every song we've heard before. The key about tonight is no doubt the display being put on by "the new Panic At The Disco", and to all of you out there that worry about the band's new direction, I have to say that my bad expectations were reversed by the honesty and warmth of their performance in Vega tonight.

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