Panic! At The Disco are not going away: The Las Vegas punk-pop band are inching up the Soundscan charts every week, and six months now they could easily be where their mentors Fall Out Boy are now — that is, big as all hell. But are they good for rock? We sent two Rolling Stone staffers (contributing editor Jenny Eliscu and Rock and Roll Daily writer Elizabeth Goodman) to a Panic show at New York's Nokia Theater this week, and this exchange ensued:
Elizabeth Goodman: Their live show is really outer-limits in terms of theatrics. This is a band that, at the age of twenty, on their first record, is bold enough to take an intermission in the middle of their show to change costumes, and the fans just eat it up.
Jenny Eliscu: Their performance was like a Six Flags theme park, Las Vegas-cheesy version of a rock show. It's mostly just smoke and mirrors and make-up and hairdos to distract you from the fact that they're not playing that well together and that their songs aren't all that catchy or interesting. The closest thing they have to a real hook is "closing a goddamn door."
EG: I love the fact that they take themselves so seriously they thought it was OK to cover Radiohead's "Karma Police." The fact that they're humorless is what makes them so endlessly amusing to me. They don't second-guess themselves. That's part of why teenagers love them so much. Every time [singer] Brendon Urie swears, you can tell all the girls are like, 'Omigod, he's so baaad!' You could say it's mall-ish, canned rebellion, but I think they believe they're doing something meaningful and their fans do, too.
JE: If you want to be pros, you need to learn to change your costumes faster. Because Britney would never do that. She'd be gone and back in a flash. She'd have people to rip off her old costume and slap the new one on. They need to invest in that instead of fake trees and grease paint.
EG: I hear you, but I still had fun. For instance, I love Tapes N Tapes, but there's nothing to watch at their shows. And people like to have stuff to watch.
JE: You could take away the theatrics in a Marilyn Manson show or a My Chemical Romance show and you'd still have great songs. Panic's songs are just unconvincing â€" so all you're left with is high-budget Hot Topic crap that takes emo excess to it's most extreme. It's extremo!