Panic! At The Disco has been touring extensively as of late, and this is their third time playing Toronto in a year. With a new album, Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die, under their belt, they set out on the This Is Gospel tour in July. They brought along Magic Man and Walk the Moon for the ride, and set up shop at TD Echo Beach.
With the sun still shining over Echo, Magic Man started the show to an already pretty full crowd. The electro-pop 5-piece kicked off the set with Waves from their July release Before The Waves. Their new album was produced by Alex Aldi (who produced Passion Pit), which makes the comparison to Passion Pit pretty inevitable, as their heavy synth and poppy vocals make an instant connection in my head. Magic Man has an infectious beat, dancy synth and hazily seductive vocals that make it pretty impossible to not move to. Their set list consisted of songs from Before The Waves, including Apollo and Texas. Although they played a short set, they took advantage of every second of it, keeping the audience on their toes and building them up for the rest of the night. They finished off the set with Paris, the first single from their new album.
Walk The Moon, from Ohio, came out like a bang, dancing through their big single Tightrope from their 2012 self-titled release. Their songs could be best described as “dance-rock”, with hooky guitar riffs and beats that range from inciting dancing to just straight up rocking out. I greatly enjoyed watching them on stage, as they look excited to be up there, as they dance along with the crowd, run around on stage and just have a blast. They are incredibly good at successfully engaging the audience, and their music is made to sing along to. Lead singer Nicholas Petricca revealed that they are currently working on new music and gave us a sneak peek at what they have been working on. Spend Your Money, which will be on their upcoming album, is a rock anthem that feels a little more mature than their previous albums, and definitely shows their growth as a band. Around this time, the band announced they wanted the audience to take part in a “group activity”, which in my experience going to hardcore or metal shows usually meant a wall of death, and sadly I was disappointed to learn they just wanted everyone to jump (really, a wall of death in a sand pit? Hilarity would ensue.) Walk The Moon finished up their set with a new track Shut Up and Dance and fan-favourite Anna Sun.
I was 16 the last time I saw Panic! At the Disco play. It was the Honda Civic tour at Molson Amphitheatre back in 2008 and they had recently released Pretty. Odd . Through my naïve rose-coloured glasses, I saw them as rock gods, and ate up every word they sang at us. Six years later and, to be honest, not much has changed. I didn’t realize I still thought Brendan Urie was a god incarnate until he walked out on stage. It could be some form of regression but I’m going to roll with it. The band came out sharply dressed, looking right out of Reservoir Dogs. Except Brendan who, wearing a gold suit jacket, delayed his entrance just enough to keep the audience eager and desperately waiting for him to shine his godly light upon them. They launched right into Vegas Lights from the new album and from here it got very exciting. Their set list was an all-encompassing high-energy dance party, pumping one hit after another. They threw us a bunch of songs from A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, including Time to Dance, The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide in Press Coverage and But It’s Better If You Do. The lighting was nothing short of extraordinary, and they even brought exploding smoke pods (for lack of a better name) that made this live show as exciting to watch as it was to listen to. Urie shared with the crowd that they weren’t sure if they were going to make the show, as it took them 4-5 hours to get through customs. Apparently, our border patrol was convinced that they had drugs with them (as is the case with most rock bands that struggle their way through our tight border), but he laughs wickedly as he says that they couldn’t find them.
Urie’s vocals haven’t weakened any over the years, and his range almost reaches Mariah Carey proportions. He was adamant about showing off his ability to absolutely rock the high notes. Somewhere in all the excitement, Urie stripped his jacket and shirt and ended up solely in a pair of tight leather pants and I think I felt the temperature rise a few degrees between all the girls sweating (or panting). After ploughing through a handful of tracks, he shares a charming speech where he crudely reveals the meaning behind Casual Affair, which is to sleep with anyone who wants to sleep with you (and I’m being kind with my wording). I swear I could almost hear the dad, standing a couple of people away from me with his two teenage daughters, groaning as he looked on disapprovingly. After a couple backflips off the drum kit, Urie retreated from being centre spotlight to near back of the stage to hop on piano for Nine In the Afternoon from Pretty. Odd. They also whipped out, to my surprise, a cover of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody which had the entire crowd screaming the lyrics alongside them. Hitting all the high notes and doing the track every bit of justice they could, I was duly impressed with their rendition.
After leaving the stage abruptly, knowing full well that the crowd was going to demand an encore, they came back with This Is Gospel and finished off the night with I Write Sins Not Tragedies. They let the audience take over singing duties as they were yelling it louder than the band was anyway. Fully sated by the show, I left feeling pumped and a bit like I was 16 again, seeing one of my (then) favourite bands for the first time. I also learned that taking notes while singing is kind of difficult!
Review by Ashley Smith (