Mid-way through last night’s surprise show at the Grog Shop, singer Brendon Urie paused between songs to slap high fives with the fans pressed up against the front of the stage. “Fuck, I miss this,” he said. “This is crazy.”
These days, the emo-pop band is quite capable of filling arenas (which it did on last year’s tour that included a stop at Wolstein Center), but to build hype for a forthcoming new album and tour, the group will play a number of surprise shows in the next week or two. The Grog Shop show was the first of these gigs.
The band announced it would play the Grog Shop on Sunday via Twitter, and fans lined up along Euclid Heights Blvd. yesterday afternoon to try to get tickets. The club reportedly turned away hundreds of people after quickly reaching capacity once doors opened at 7:30 p.m.
Panic!'s frenetic 65-minute set certainly didn’t disappoint the lucky 300 to 400 fans who managed to see the show.
The group opened the 18-song concert with a rousing rendition of “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time.” Urie arrived on stage wearing a gold lame jacket, his hair perfectly coiffed. But as he and the band launched into the tune, his hair quickly became disheveled, and he began to sweat profusely.
Apologizing because the band hadn’t played a show in nine months, he asked fans to sing the lyrics with him to help him remember the words. The audience often served as a choir as fans sang in unison with Urie. He would sometimes just pause mid-song to listen to the audience sing.
In the intimate setting, Urie’s vocals sounded particularly sharp. He effectively crooned his way through “Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind)” and “The Ballad of Mona Lisa,” joking that he felt a bit “out of shape” after singing the latter tune. “L.A. Devotee” had a Smiths-like quality to it, and the band emphasized the gospel elements of “Hallelujah,” which included a nice a cappella section.
Twirling while he sang, Urie effectively rapped his way through “Vegas Lights,” and he effortlessly slipped into falsetto for “Miss Jackson.” His vocal acrobatics on “Let’s Kill Tonight” rivaled those of the late, great Freddie Mercury.
Canned horns gave “Crazy=Genius” an old school swing feel, and the Brit-pop inspired “Girls/Girls/Boys” became a righteous sing-along. Near the concert's conclusion, Urie growled and screamed his way through “Positive Hardcore,” a throwaway track, but the song suggested the punk rock approach the band took the gig and didn’t detract from the unique show’s appeal. Plus, the group got back on track with the final number, the emo-pop anthem "Victorious."
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