Guitarist Jack Antonoff talks about the band’s big Grammy night, playing larger venues, the status of Steel Train and what’s next for fun.
"There’s a lot of stuff we’ve done this year and we’ve gotten really good at just shutting off. There’s some things that are too big to even think about, and you get to the point in your head where all you can think about while you’re up there is when you used to do really small shows. Now it’s the Grammys, but it’s still the same thing. The environment is the same. It’s the same emotions. I play guitar the same way, Nate sings the same way, so it’s really important in those moments to treat it no different than like playing a club show."
Keyboardist Andrew Dost talks about breakout record Some Nights, the band’s recent shot to stardom, maintaining a high degree of integrity and not forgetting the original fans.
"I know that feeling really well, of feeling like a band who’s my little secret and then having them sort of get taken away from me in a way. I understand that feeling, but I would hope that our fans who have been around for a while are still happy for us and still like the music we’re writing. We’re making the same songs and doing the same things with the integrity we’ve always had."
Panic! At The Disco w/ fun. & Funeral Party The Wiltern Los Angeles, CA June 21, 2011
The last time I saw Panic! At The Disco was nearly six years ago when it was still opening for Fall Out Boy, which fittingly also took place at the Wiltern. A lot has changed since then and, while I’ve heard mixed reactions to its live show since, I would bet the band has never sounded better than in its latest incarnation. Lead singer Brendon Urie, showing no ill effects from his recently busted ankle, was full of energy while turning in a widely encompassing vocal performance. Touring members Ian Crawford and Dallon Weekes have also become nice additions with solid musical chops, and their vocal harmonies with Urie proved a perfect complement.
As for the set list, the band heavily drew upon its freshest release, Vices & Virtues, with 8 of its 10 songs represented over the 90-minute set, although admittedly my favorite track, “Memories,” was absent. That favoritism is fine for me, as I would rank Vices as Panic!’s strongest outing, but I know others would disagree while also being disappointed by the lack of attention shown to Pretty. Odd.
Nevertheless, two of the night’s highlights weren’t from any of its studio albums. “C’mon,” a duet done with Nate Ruess and Andrew Dost of fun., was an infectious detour, and the band’s cover of the classic rock hit, “Carry On Wayward Son,” was right on the money, as evidenced by the clips making the rounds on YouTube. I’m not sure how many “pop-punk” bands could have pulled something like this off, but Panic! did it effortlessly, shredding as if it was a hard rock band and clearly enjoying the deviation. It seems that while the band has toned down its theatricality from years past, it has upped the focus on musicianship, and I think the results speak for themselves.
Serving as main support was fun., which turned in a 40-minute set of extravagant pop. I haven’t seen the group since Aim & Ignite was first released, so it was interesting seeing how it has grown as a band in the years since, lineup shuffles included. Nate still has a boundless stage presence and remains a reliable live singer, with the rest of the musicians now well oiled to accompany him. Two cuts from its upcoming album were also previewed, both of which sounded up to par if not as memorable as Aim & Ignite’s strongest cuts, although to be fair it’s hard to judge on only one listen. The only complaint I would offer is the synths added to two of the older songs, which skewed a little too close for my taste to the crappy dance punk that is all the rage these days.
Lastly, or firstly from a chronological standpoint, I arrived in the middle of opener Funeral Party’s set, a local band from the L.A. area that I wasn’t too familiar with. The band sounded all right, nothing hugely memorable but certainly not anything terrible, either. Think a less catchy version of Tokyo Police Club and you’re on the right track, although it was hard for them not to get overshadowed by the night’s two following acts.
Set List: Panic! At The Disco
Ready To Go (Get Me Out Of My Mind)
But It’s Better If You Do
The Ballad Of Mona Lisa
Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off
C’mon (Feat. fun.)
The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage
Let’s Kill Tonight
Nine In The Afternoon
The Green Gentlemen (Things Have Changed)
I Write Sins Not Tragedies
Carry On Wayward Son (Kansas cover)
Nearly Witches (Ever Since We Met…)
Set List: fun.
We Are Young (New Song)
Walking The Dog
All The Pretty Girls
All Alone (New Song)
At Least I’m Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)
Take Your Time (Coming Home)
Check out my interview with fun. over at Mammoth Press. Vocalist Nate Ruess and keyboardist/guitarist Andrew Dost discuss all things fun. related, including its inception and ambitions, what pop music is missing today and its plans for world domination.