Panic! at the Disco at Marquee Theatre, 6/17/11 (VIDEO)

Panic! at the Disco
June 17, 2011
Marquee Theatre

Brendon Urie sure seems happy these days.

At last night's Panic! at the Disco show at Marquee Theatre, the frontman seemed more comfortable than ever, hitting high notes his fans haven't been used to, screaming and growling with urgency, and even smoking and drinking on stage. The platform was his playground, and everyone was invited to join the festivities.

This was sort of a new beginning for the band, who are now technically down to a twosome of Urie and drummer Spencer Smith, although they're accompanied by touring musicians. Despite the shake-up of losing two members, Panic! seemed fresher and more focused than ever, though they didn't neglect the past that shot them to super-stardom, playing songs off all three of their albums. Their newest, Vices & Virtues, is the first project by the new, smaller band, but it was nice the guys still respected their roots. In fact, fans sang along loudest to cuts from their debut, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, although every song was a sing-along.

It's always nice to see the bare bones Marquee Theatre dressed up, and Panic! didn't disappoint with a very cool looking set. There was a scrunched-up fabric backdrop, as well as hanging lightbulbs, a lit-up organ and colorful flashing lights. And the ever-fashionable group dressed up in vests, bow ties, and button-down shirts, proving that you can still be classy amid grime.

Urie was the star of Panic's set, commanding the stage by running around and interacting with his bandmates, as well as keeping the show moving with light banter between songs. One of the coolest moments of the show was during the song "Let's Kill Tonight," where he and touring guitarist Ian Crawford banged on huge drums along with Smith. It was times like those that really stood out, where the band just let go and did whatever they wanted, a stark contrast to the restrictions Urie admitted he felt while the group recorded their sophomore album, Pretty. Odd. Even though that second disc might have been the catalyst to what caused the break-up of the original line-up, with its focus on sounding like classic pop rock songs, the band still played a few tracks off the album. And the audience still seemed to support it, no matter how different the songs may have been from the debut -- at Marquee, the crowd sang along to those tracks energetically, too.

There were some other improvised moments in the show, like an instrumental of Super Mario Bros. music and a brief rendition of Urie singing "Wind Beneath My Wings." The group genuinely seemed to be having a great time up there, even though Marquee was smaller than venues they've played before in the Valley, like Arena and Mesa Ampitheatre.

And just because the band was excited doesn't mean they skimped on quality. While Urie's shrieking wasn't the most melodic or in-tune, it was passionate and emotional. And his acoustic rendition of "Always" was really beautiful and showcased his vocal talent.

Another big crowd hit was the song "C'mon," which Panic! recorded with fun., the New York-based band fronted by former Valley resident and The Format frontman Nate Ruess. Ruess joined Urie on-stage for the song, which excited the crowd just as much as Panic!'s hits.

Panic! played a good mix off all three albums, as well as a lighthearted, but surprisingly rocking, cover of Kansas' "Carry On My Wayward Son." That song seemed to be dedicated to the smattering of parents in the audience, since Urie gave a shout-out to all the folks who drove their kids to the show and stuck around and watched.

It was nice to see the band in such high spirits after what could have been a career ender with the departure of some members. They proved that they're stronger than ever, and the new pop rock sound they've created on Vices translated well into a live setting. If this is the beginning of a new Panic!, it's a great start.

Fun. really got the sold-out crowd warmed up well. Ruess was just as happy as Urie, glad to be back in town with his parents in attendance. 

"I figured this would be a no-brainer for our favorite show of the tour," Ruess said, and judging by the loud singing from the fans, there's no way it couldn't have been. After fun.'s 40-minute set, during which they played their amazing new song "We Are Young," the crowd chanted "One more song, one more song." Sadly, the band didn't come back out, but Ruess did promise the band would be back soon after they release their new album in the fall.

And if they wanted to bring Panic! back as openers for their tour, it's a safe bet Arizonans would have no problem with that.

Personal Bias: I've been a Panic! at the Disco fan since they broke out on the scene, and this was probably my fifth time seeing them. Also, I'm sort of in love with Urie.
The Crowd: A good mix of guys and girls in their teens and 20's, along with a few parents.
Overheard in the crowd: "Ten bucks says he's a little drunky-drunk," my pal said about Ruess during fun.'s set.
Random Notebook Dump: "We Are Young" was my favorite song of fun.'s set, and I'm a fan of their debut, Aim and Ignite. If that's an indication of what to expect from more of their new album, I'd say pre-order it as soon as possible.

Set List:
Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind)
But It's Better If You Do
The Ballad of Mona Lisa
Lying Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off
Trade Mistakes
The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage
Let's Kill Tonight
Nine in The Afternoon
That Green Gentleman
The Calendar
I Write Sins Not Tragedies
Carry On My Wayward Son- Kansas cover (encore)
Nearly Witches (Ever Since We Met...) (encore)

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Nicki Escudero
Contact: Nicki Escudero

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