This week has been insane and my Wednesday night probably would have been better spent packing and getting ready for Riot Fest weekend but, instead, I found myself at The Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul for Panic! At The Disco. I regret nothing and even though I’m sure I will forget something when panic-packing this morning for the fest, it was all worth it and I regret nothing.
Kicking the explosive night off was twenty-five-year-old Jake Wesley Rogers. I instantly got Elton John vibes from this amazing performer. From the outfit to his overall stage presence, it just screamed larger than life to me and I was sold before he even really got deep into his set. Musically, Jake’s sound is very pop but it has this odd and creative edge to it. It’s hard to just call him a pop artist but I guess if you are just listening to him at home on your stereo, that’s what it is. I just have to stress that Jake is so much more than that when you see him live and that means his name has made my list. Claiming to be a rhinestone on the buckle of the bible belt of America (he’s from Springfield, MO) and his Ted Talk on being honest with yourself and believing in yourself was jut the icing on the cake to his quick thirty-minute opening set. I expect to see a lot more from Jake Wesley Rogers and I can not wait for that.
Following Jake was Beach Bunny, a band that just has never done it for me. Beach Bunny started their set with the audience down low ready to jump for a triumphant beginning but sadly it didn’t translate. Beach Bunny’s set seemed to lack that wow moment that they were hoping for but that doesn’t mean their set wasn’t enjoyable. Relatable lyrics mixed with approachable indie pop-leaning slightly into the pop-punk world beats made for an overall great opening set for the night. I don’t think Beach Bunny will ever be a huge arena band just based on the fact that not much has changed since I last saw them at First Avenue back in November of 2021, but they haven’t gotten any worse and at least that’s something.
Where do I even begin with Panic! at the Disco and frontman Brendon Urie? I still remember the first time I heard this band back in the early 2000s. It was instant love with Brendon’s voice and the overall composition of every song. It’s pop-punk but it also has this almost theatrical undertone to it which made it stand out all those years ago when the emo/ pop-punk scene was so oversaturated. Although the show was far from sold out on Wednesday night, everyone in the audience seemed to share the same admiration for this band and Brendan Urie specifically (technically Panic! at the Disco is a solo project for Brendon with a rotating cast of musicians).
The impressive twenty-five-song set started with a smattering of tracks from the beginning days of the band before they hopped into an album playthrough of their new release, ‘Viva Las Vengeance’. I’ll be honest, I’m a nostalgia seeker when it comes to P!ATD and thought it was a very bold move for them to play the new album in its entirety. It lost my interest but I think that was more due to me wanting to sing along to songs from my youth. The new album isn’t bad in fact it shows an undeniable sense of growth in Brendon’s songwriting capabilities and talent but I would just much rather put on their debut 2005 album ‘A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out’. Thankfully, after the album playthrough, Brendon treated the audience to some of those nostalgic songs ending with a stunning and motivational performance of “High Hopes”.
There was a full band, string trio, horn section, fireworks and so much more incorporated into the production of this show yet somehow it still felt so understated to me. Maybe that’s my bias showing or just how connected I feel to this band but it felt as if Brendon was right there and taking time to acknowledge the audience in his own way with his quirky little dances and impressive vocal range. Regardless, there was always something to watch and always something to hear which meant that the twenty-five-song set seemed to fly by and before I knew it, I was being ushered out of the arena but wanting so much more.
There are a lot of favorite moments that made up my Wednesday night experience. Personally, I loved hearing “Hey Look Ma, I Made It”. It hit me just right as I go into a weekend of living my true dream of being a press member at a giant festival that I have always gone to just to enjoy but have always dreamed of covering. In the same vein, hearing the optimism that comes with “High Hopes” was the perfect way to end the evening. Between that, I thoroughly enjoyed feeling the nostalgia that came with “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”. I know I expressed some disappointment in the album playthrough but even throughout that, I found a sense of joy and found myself smiling the entire time. At one point, a small fire formed on stage. I assume it was from the pyro and was quickly put out when noticed but I felt I could relate to those flames. It was as if they didn’t want the night to end just like I didn’t. They were hanging on as long as they could and just trying to take it all in. I don’t blame them at all.
Venue: Xcel Energy Center
Average Age of the Crowd: 35
Crowd Surfers- None
Mosh-ability- 6 out of 10
Sausage-Fest Meter- 4 out of 10
Amount of Beer Spilled On Me While Walking Around- $0
Broken Bones- None
Spotted Flying Through The Air- so much confetti
Randomly Shirtless Men – 0
Passed Out Kids- 0
Idiots Taken Out By Security – 0
How Many Times I’ve Seen These Bands Before (or at least how many times I can remember)-
Jake Wesley Rogers – 0
Beach Bunny – 1
Panic! At the Disco – 14
Celebrity Sightings – None
Overall Score- 9.4 out of 10
Show on Deck- Riot Fest!
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