Tweens to the right of me. Tweens to the left of me. Tweens to the front and back of me. I’d never felt so old in my life. And once the young girls in their newly bought matching shirts filed into the row in front of me, I knew I was doomed.
But that’s what I get for going to see Panic at the Disco.
The Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., a venue almost identical to Madison Square Garden on the inside, though smaller (with a much better sound system), was completely full on Nov. 2, one of the last dates on the inaugural Rock Band Live tour. The Cab, Plain White T’s and Dashboard Confessional were also featured.
The show kicked off with the Cab, one of indie label Fueled by Ramen’s newest discoveries. The Cab aren’t bad live, but they have the nasty habit of sounding like a ’90s-era boy band. Lead singer Alex DeLeon actually sounds like *NSYNC-er JC Chasez.
Plain White T’s then took the stage. After getting the prerequisite “new songs” out of the way, they finally played the only song they ever wrote that anyone really cares about, “Hey There Delilah.”
It was more like, “Hey There Squeaky Pre-Teens Singing.” I actually liked the song when it first came out, but overexposure and a good smack to the head cured me of my temporary insanity. Plus, I heard the girl that lead singer Tom Higgenson wrote about dumped him.
Finally, some semblance of music returned to the show when Dashboard Confessional took the stage. Chris Carrabba, lead singer and emo king, was as brilliant as always. The band played new favorites like “Vindicated,” the hit song from “Spiderman 2,” but also fell back on old reliables like “Hands Down” and “Screaming Infidelities.”
Unfortunately, the markedly young audience didn’t appreciate the sheer brilliance that is a 33-year-old man singing about teenage heartbreak. I had to physically restrain my friend from throwing her shoe at the three prepubescents in front of us when they started screaming “You suck” during “Hands Down.” The 12-year-olds were not available for comment.
In an effort to connect with the younger crowd, Carrabba and company actually covered a Miley Cyrus song. Which song? I have no clue (and I am so thankful for that). All that mattered was that was one of the only times the crowd went nuts for the practically legendary band. I weep for our younger generations.
Finally, Panic took the stage. One of the most talked about – and bitched about – bands of this decade, Panic, despite all the hype about how they were signed and how they’re trying to be the Beatles on their newest album, can put on a show. And a damn good one, at that. They started, predictably, with “We’re So Starving,” the first song from “Pretty. Odd,” their latest album. From there, they traveled through an array of songs from their two albums, including a memorable performance of the ballad “When the Day Met the Night,” a song about the romance between the sun and the moon. It sounds corny, but it’s one of the most beautiful songs the band has written.
Another highlight was “Northern Downpour,” which is, according to the band, the most important song they’ve ever written. I don’t know whether I agree with that, but nevertheless, the song was one of the many showstoppers of the evening. “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” the infectiously catchy tune that won Panic the 2006 VMA Video of the Year award, was also fantastically done.
One drawback to the performance was the singing. Lead singer Brendon Urie’s voice is amazing, and he executes wonderfully live, but the newest vocalist in the band, Ryan Ross (also the lead guitarist) did nothing to help. Whenever he sang, all he did was make Urie sound like he had a cold. There’s a reason the band replaced you with Urie back before you were signed, Ross.
Besides a showy instrumental rendition of the Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” Panic only played one cover (and thankfully it wasn’t a Jonas Brothers song) – “Shout” by the Isley Brothers, as their closer. And no offense to the Brothers, but Urie nailed it. His writhing, dancing and ridiculously dead-on vocals drove home the fact that the show belonged to Urie. He owned the stage and made me remember why I was the only one over the age of 18 in the audience.