Everything at the Bowery last night was a mix of the two versions of Panic, showcased on their two existing albums. The flowers of the tour for their sophomore album Pretty. Odd. were still present, but shaped into white funereal wreaths. The touch of theatrical from the Circus and Vaudeville tours of 2006 shone through in the troupe of Steampunk-fashioned extras who mingled with the crowd and watched the set in a large clump up in the VIP balcony, possibly because the Bowery stage is a little too small to hold about a dozen non-musical persons. Lead singer Brendon Urie took every opportunity to show off his vastly improving dance skills during the set, but has toned down the intra-band stage flirtations from their height several years ago. However, the cover of the Rocky Horror Picture Show's "Science Fiction/Double Feature" served as a completely acceptable substitute for stage-gay.
The set list was a mix of tracks from their platinum-selling debut A Fever You Can't Sweat Out and the follow-up Pretty. Odd., a best-of hits and crowd favorites that blended the sounds of both albums. Urie even declared that the acoustic track "Northern Downpour" -- an ode to the band's fans (and former guitarist Ryan Ross's longterm ex-girlfriend) -- brought tears to his eyes. The band played three new songs, including current single "The Ballad Of Mona Lisa," which is sat at number 43 on iTunes single chart a day after release. They also premiered "Nearly Witches," a song diehards would recognize from the 30-second clip included on the Fall Out Boy mixtape put out in 2008. It is clear the full piece was written at a different time than the rest of the new songs, and indeed the band resurrected it from writing sessions done between Fever and Pretty. Odd. It's definitely the most fantastical and fairy-tale, reminiscent of the musical story style sound they were reportedly going for on their second album before those sessions were scrapped in favor of the more Beatles-esque Pretty. Odd. The complicated lyricism of the song will fare better recorded than live, but it definitely catches your ear.
The best new song, though, was "Let's Kill Tonight" (see clip above), the most progressive sounding of the cuts making their debuts. It makes full use of Spencer Smith's fierce drumming and has the potential to get the crowd off their feet and bring back the almost-dangerous pit atmosphere of Panic's early days (you haven't lived til you've seen 13-year-olds pulled out of a mosh pit while circus performers are contorting on stage). That edge that was missing during the Pretty. Odd. peace and love era, and what drew many original fans to the bands unique sound, is alive and well in "Let's Kill Tonight." Still the track is a balance of the old and new, not as hectic and dance-pop as Fever but not as indie-rock as Pretty. Odd. aspired to be. If the rest of this album moves in the same direction, it has the potential to unite both sides of the Panic coin.
-- RAE VOTTA
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