Panic! At The Disco gives mature, exhilarating performance at Oracle Arena

Singer Brendon Urie, also known as Panic at the Disco, performs at Oracle Arena.
Stephanie Li/Staff

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Oakland was filled with big-band pop, former-emo-genre joy as Panic! At The Disco headlined its “Pray For The Wicked Tour” on Feb. 19. The band has evolved quite a bit over the years, switching out temporary musicians and unfolding its newer radio-friendly sound. As frontman Brendon Urie walked onstage in an all-black outfit, sneakers and skinny jeans galore, under a bright golden blazer, however, fans were reminded that Urie still has all the swagger — no matter what genre he settles into.

Panic! At The Disco is known for its dramatic presentation, and the staging for its concert definitely didn’t break expectation. After the entrance of guitarist Mike Naran and bassist Nicole Row, Urie shot out of a trapdoor in the stage, popping up so high he could have flown over the heads of his bandmates.

The show began with “(Fuck A) Silver Lining,” the opening song off of the band’s latest album, Pray For The Wicked. Silver confetti shot out into the audience, raining down as Urie’s falsettos ran for dear life. Urie has one of the most impressive vocal ranges in the modern music industry, and the song demonstrated that.

The old-school performance of “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” from 2011’s Vices & Virtues returned back to the band’s former steampunk aesthetic. Images of Victorian bolts and wheels flew across the screen as Urie’s platform sunk into the ground in a slow-moving trapdoor style.

He returned after only a few moments, seated at a white grand piano for “Nine in the Afternoon.” Soft colors painted the room while the screen was plastered with vintage-looking cartoons to match the nostalgic mood of the iconic song. The best part — Panic! went the extra mile to make sure the song really was played just around 9 p.m.

During “Death of a Bachelor,” Urie took a trip into the crowd, walking up and down aisles to the screaming and outstretched arms of excited fans. Urie is consistently one of the most humble performers to grace a stage. While walking through the audience, he took a moment to appreciate his fans, saying, “None of this is possible without you guys, remember that. You’re some of the realest and kindest people I’ve ever met. Thank you.”

The slow ballad mood hit the crowd with “Dying in LA,” the powerful tear-jerker of the new album. Urie’s piano lifted from the platform, slowly flying across the crowd as if defying the laws of gravity. His awe-inspiring staging was met with a sea of cellphone flashlights, the piano landing back on the corner of the main stage as the song ended.

The highlight of the night was the performance of “Girls / Girls / Boys,” a ballad-style tribute to all forms of love. Crowd members threw rainbow-striped flags onstage as the song went on until Urie was literally tripping over the sheer number of them. As the count ran up in the double digits, Urie picked up each one and wore it over his shoulders, saying it was the record number of flags ever thrown onstage during that song.

If there’s anything that Panic! consistently does right, it’s the illustrious cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” — a concert classic that showcases Urie’s high-hitting notes better than any other. Honestly, who needs to see “Bohemian Rhapsody” when they can watch a much better homage to the ‘70s icons through the voice of Urie?

Fans were waiting in anticipation for “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” as part of the encore of the night, but Urie said he couldn’t perform the song because of apparent “complications” with the lyrics. To solve this problem, a group of girls from the crowd were pulled onstage to perform the song with them. Urie seemed more than satisfied with the choice and in the end, the performance brought back the nostalgic angst everyone had been waiting for throughout the show.

It’s obvious that Panic! At The Disco is not the youthful, emo band it once used to be, but has evolved to fall in line with modern music industry greats. Time will only tell what the future has in store for this band, who has been making music for well over a decade — but based off the solid music and performances it still gives the world, we call tell it’s going to be great.

Skylar De Paul covers music. Contact her at [email protected]. Tweet her at @skylardepaul.