All photos (c) Byron Smith
Panic! at the DiscoJuly 2 at Avalon, Boston
OTD ran into one of our older fishwrap colleagues at P!@TD -- clearly the old chap had been sent on assignment to figure out, on behalf of his daily tabloid, what all the fuss was about. From his expression, he was unmoved. Same old story: the mens don't know but the little goils understand. And my lord. Over at the NYT, Kelefah's trying to bestow emo-album-of-summer status upon Panic's junior understudies, Cute Is What We Aim For. Thing is, Panic's not quite ready to flash-in-pan and move on yet, and their current tour unveils very simple strategy: pull every stunt you can think of, play every song you know. A Suicide Girls-esque vaudville troupe, a mid-set intermission and costume change, a set that looks like a cross between the video for Smashing Pumpkins' "Tonight, Tonight" and High School Musical, costumes that would make a Decemberists album jealous, gorgeous chamber-rock covers of "Tonight, Tonight" (inevitable) and "Karma Police" ("it's by Radiohead," they helpfully explained to the younguns), a glow-in-the-dark drum kit, arrangements for cello, xylophone, piano, and banjo? Their name in lights? A final bow at the lip of the stage?
They weren't just gimmicky, they were also really good, and unless you parse their lyrics you'll miss how much they pack into them -- and trust us, their fans are smarter than you on this, because even when taking in Panic's jumbled run-on-sentence verses, the kids shout ever word. These are songs that take up as much memory space as an Eminem song and traffic in a similar type of self-reflexive, don't-bother-saying-it-about-me, I've-already-said-it-about-myself deconstruction. It also helps, as the 13-year-olds next to me pointd out, that the singer has "oh my god, what an amazing ass." It's true. He does.