There were some jarring product placements at the opening night of Panic at the Disco’s North American outing — even for something called the Honda Civic Tour. Motion City Soundtrack, the Hush Sound and Phantom Planet opened, and between sets automobile commercials alternated with videos from acts on the record label that distributes PATD’s music.
The Las Vegas quartet finally took the stage more than two and a half hours after the show began, opening with the salutary “We’re So Starving” and the current hit “Nine in the Afternoon.” The band alternated considerably less aggressive versions of tracks from A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out with stripped-down selections from its elaborate new album Pretty. Odd. Whether it was first-night jitters, a lack of sufficient rehearsal time, or the simple fact that their music is dependent on dozens of overdubs both from themselves and a myriad of outside players, Panic’s live presence was decidedly tentative.
Drummer Spencer Smith proved himself the most confident musician: While other members cautiously approached what was essentially an entire set comprised of new and daunting arrangements, he supplied a momentum otherwise lacking from older album tracks like “Camisado” and intricate new cuts like “She’s a Handsome Woman.” Singer Brendon Urie furrowed and arched his brow to signify emotions he couldn’t fully articulate with hands occupied with guitars, while guitarist Ryan Ross looked uncomfortable and affable bassist Jon Walker acted as spokesman.
Despite the fact that Panic had traded its burlesque dancers, frilly costumes and androgynous makeup for muted beige outfits and facial hair, the largely teenage and female audience screamed as if attending a boy-band spectacle. And to some degree, they were: Walker chided Urie for taking a sip from a beer, as the frontman was two days shy of his twenty-first birthday; an event Smith won’t celebrate for several months.