The 13 hour journey to and from Grand Rapids was filled with snow, winds, and Panic! at the Disco songs but I would happily make the journey again. On Jan. 29, Panic! at the Disco, also known as P!ATD, performed the “Pray for the Wicked” concert at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. The roads were terrible, but the concert was phenomenal.
The concert opened with a group of violinists rising from beneath the stage. The crowd roared as white and purple lights danced over the main stage. The large screen and corresponding side screen showed the continuous countdown in white numbers, 5… 4… 3… 2… 1.
The violinists played a grand introduction of symphony as the purple and blue lights cascaded downwards, seeming more like a night at the theater or the beginning of “Disney on Ice” than a punk rock concert.
The violins came to a halt and the lights shut off, engulfing us in black. The crowd waited for the eccentric musician Brendon Urie. And he did not disappoint.
“Silver Lining,” the opening number of the concert, has a memorable and eloquent beginning line. The platform shifted and a panel opened up as Urie jumped onto the stage and began to sing.
“F––– a silver lining!”
And we were off. The next two hours were filled with everything, including Urie’s drum solos, floating pianos, fire, flags, and Hugh Jackman references. The stage lights seemed to explode around him as Urie sang with a voice I can only describe as unworldly.
Covering six different albums, not to mention Urie’s covers, left little room for comments, so the first half of the concert was a constant performance of song after song. Urie embraced the wicked aspects of his music with “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time” from his 2016 album “Death of a Bachelor.” Neon skulls and cars bounced on and off the screen as Urie sang to the crowd.
“Hey Look Ma I Made It” continued, capturing the “Pray for the Wicked” theme of accomplishment over struggles. Urie also uses this song to comment on the complications of the music world and the love/hate relationship with a need for sales and relying on popularity.
“All my life, been hustling and tonight is my appraisal,” Urie sang. “'Cause I'm a hooker sellin' songs and my pimp's a record label.”
Despite the upward climb of performers in the music industry, which Urie exemplifies, the joy in the songs chorus was undeniable.
“In a golden cathedral,” he sang. “I'll be praying for the faithless and if you lose, boo-hoo.”
Urie made sure to include older songs, which led to band’s fame, such as “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” and “Nine in the Afternoon.”
“Dying in L.A.” calmed the arena’s energy, but in no way brought it down as Urie was carried above the crowd whilst playing a glittering white piano. He smiled down at fans and thanked them for attending the event as the song wove tales of talent and tragedy.
After the release of the movie “The Greatest Showman,” Urie added his rendition of the hit song “The Greatest Show” to his tour. The dramatic song was fitting for P!ATD, capturing the same circus theme as “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.”
“Roaring 20s” was another enthusiastic song that showcased P!ATD’s ability to vitalize all instruments, including the violin, trumpet, and saxophone. The song contains several literary references, including “Lord of the Flies,” Edger Allen Poe’s “Tell Tale Heart,” and a Great Gatsby feel to it.
“This is my roaring, roaring 20's, I don't even know me,” he sang. “Row me like a boat ‘cause I wanna go home.”
Urie also covered the popular Queen song “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Urie said this was one of his favorite songs to play, and because of its large contribution to music, he and his band have played it on every tour.
The dramatic storytelling, rock energy, and nod to the LGBT community peaked in energy with the famous song “Girls/Girls/Boys.” Every seat in the stadium had a colored heart placed on its seat, intended for this particular song.
“Love is not a choice!” it read. “Hold up and shine your flashlight or phone light through during Girls/Girls/Boys!”
The song was originally written about a sexual encounter and a person opening their eyes to a new experience. Over the years, it has transformed into a pride song for the LGBT community.
The singer wrapped himself in a gay pride flag and happily waved the bisexual pride flag as fans cheered. Urie said this was his favorite moment of the entire tour because it brought so many people together.
“I want you to know, if you’re having problems or being bullied for who you are, you are accepted here and you are a beautiful soul,” he said.
For the past 14 years, P!ATD has been a safe haven for the outcasts, the weirdos- the wicked. The rainbow lights held us in solidarity. As we all cheered to the thumping music in our ears, I realized I was not praying for the wicked, but I was standing with them.
Jennifer Linnea Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jenzbie/43285363274/in/photostream/