Dancing’s not a crime, but if it were Panic! At The Disco’s Brendon Urie would be public enemy number one.
There are moments in life when the decisions we’ve made and the journey we’ve been on suddenly make perfect sense. These moments arise without warning and dissipate just as fast as they appear, but for a few brief heartbeats, some external force makes us feel perfectly okay in our own skin as If everything that has gone both wrong and right was worth it to be where we are at the exact point in time.
On July 14, Brendon Urie and the other members of Panic! At The Disco brought their jubilant and highly-intoxicating blend of pop-rock to a sold out Little Caesars Arena in celebration of their recently released album, Pray For the Wicked. Relative pop newcomers Hayley Kiyoko opened, with direct support from “Cross My Mind” hitmakers A R I Z O N A. Both artists delivered well-received sets to an arena quickly filling with a mix of old and young adults who could be heard swapping stories from their glory days in the so-called “scene.”
The rest of the audience, those yet to find their seats, could be located in the surrounding hallways where merch lines stretched over one-hundred people deep in the hours before the headliner taking the stage. Certain crowds might not have been patient with such waits, but Panic! fans were – perhaps surprisingly – accepting. Everyone knew everyone else loved the music they had gathered to celebrate as much as they did, and that created an immediate sense of community that swept the still very much brand new arena.
Toto’s “Africa,” having found a fresh round of popularity following the release of Stranger Things season two in the fall of 2017, was the last song to play before the lights dropped for the headline performance. As the pop hit from 1982 boomed throughout the arena, a countdown clock ticked away on stage and fans began to arise from their seats, with many singing along to classic hit. When the final notes rang out the room erupted with cheers, and not two minutes later the band was on stage racing through “(Fuck A) Silver Lining” as the screams from the crowd continued.
The set, heavy with cuts from the Wicked, played like a celebration to life and all that it entails. Giant LED screens filled the room with bursts of light that helped to accentuate the charismatic performance of everyone on stage. The bassist and guitar would sometimes venture to the front of the stage, but more often than not it was Mr. Urie who held the room in the palm of his hand. His voice soared, and his body never stopped moving, even when he ascended from the floor and flew over the audience while performing on a white piano. The tiny platform could be seen rocking from side to side, but Urie paid it no mind at all. His attention was entirely devoted to those in attendance, those who had waited hours to see a man some have supported for more than a decade. If he were to fall at that moment, or perhaps to have otherwise fainted from dancing too much in under the hot lights of the stage, one doesn’t doubt he would have been okay with it. Everyone claims to leave it all on stage, but Panic! At The Disco actually does it.
Anyone familiar with arena shows that will tell you that all the lights and theatrics, of which there are many on this tour, never replace the closeness smaller venues often allow. Ticket prices are higher, as are expectations, and the chance of getting anything that isn’t presented to every other city on tour is rare. After all, the only way production-heavy tours work is if everything goes as planned. There has to be a plan.
Despite this, Urie and crew connected with Detroit on a genuine level. That was perhaps never more clear than in a moment halfway through the evening when Urie requested to borrow one fan’s LGBT pride flag from the first few rows and wrapped it around himself. It was an occurrence that had happened previously at the band’s live shows, yet it nonetheless felt genuine. The smile on Urie’s face as the crowd erupted was so broad that he wore it throughout the performance of “Girls/Girls/Boys” that followed. You could tell he felt connected to the night, and because of that so did you as a member of the audience. We were all part of something special, and though it may happen again in another city in a similar fashion, it would never be like this night ever again.
Fans of cinema will recall a theme in films from the 1980s where stories found any excuse they could to make their characters dance. Be it a house party or prom, there was always one wide shot where the main character or characters had a moment of emotional honesty that changed while high energy music played in the background. In those scenes, everyone dances without a care in the world and they look good doing it. So good, in fact, that they make you want to dance as well. We’re all Tom Cruise sliding through the living room in his underwear in Risky Business, just like we’re all the members of the Breakfast Club killing time in detention, and on July 14 everyone within earshot of Little Caesar’s Arena was Brendon Urie standing center stage in front of thousands. You couldn’t stop him if you tried, and honestly — why would anyone want to?
You can catch Panic! At The Disco on tour throughout 2018 and 2019. Dates and ticket information can be found on the band’s official website.