The sign outside the backstage at Madison Square Garden last Thursday night might as well have read “No horn section, no service” as Panic! at the Disco (as well as opening acts MisterWives and Saint Motel) made sure to fill the circular arena with blasting horns all night long.
First up was California indie band Saint Motel bringing their big rowdy horn filled pop to a short set clocking in around 30 minutes. The band look like they just came off a fashion shoot where they sipped gin martinis in the officers of Sterling-Cooper. There was no hanging off thirty foot high rafters for lead singer A/J Jackson tonight, instead he conducted the crowd atop an old cathode ray tube that must’ve been dug off the set of Archie Bunker. Jackson makes a dapper front man belting out raucous choruses that feel like they were engineered in a laboratory to ensure maximum synchronized sing and dance alongs, but what really makes Saint Motel tick is a mixture of piano, horns and drums that come at you in repeated waves.
Next up was New York’s own MisterWives. With one full-length album under their belt, it’s pretty amazing that they’re already getting a taste of what Madison Square Garden feels like. Lead singer Mandy Lee struts with the grandeur of pop-rock provocateur, clad in her “I Love NY” tee, bedazzled denim shorts, fishnets, and fluffy rainbow jacket. She maybe small in stature but she’s got a solid command over the stage, constantly smiling and playing off her band mates, especially the back and forth with bassist William Hehir. One look at how much fun they’re having on stage and all you can think is, “I want to party with this band.” The Caribbean backed ska beats that MisterWives pepper throughout their tracks really shines through, especially when the horns kick in.
And then the headliners took the stage, after a ten-minute countdown clock kept ramping up the crowd’s excitement. And Panic! at the Disco brought the lights, fire, cannons, and pop beats to the Garden. Frontman Brendon Urie had a glitzy Elvis thing going on this night with his pompadour and shiny golden tuxedo jacket. Panic! maybe ditching their earlier emo sound for a more Sinatra-esque vibe on their recent release but they come at you with the stage craft of arena rock veterans – packed with a few horns, of course.
Urie brought out a special guest vocalist for their second song. 12-year-old Noah Schnapp, better known to everyone on the planet as Will Byers, the boy who goes missing on the hit Netflix series ‘Stanger Things’, sang “L.A. Devotee” – he also starred in the video for that same song.
Urie may be all that’s left of the band’s original line up, but that didn’t seem to matter the crowd who were screaming along at every line he uttered throughout the night. Panic! reportedly garnered and new, younger fan base with their recent release and all it took was on look around the packed Garden to see the youthful smiling faces soaking it all in.
Article: Omar Kasrawi