Though a massive Panic! at the Disco banner prompted perfunctory shrieks from Saturday night’s sold-out crowd at the Joint, what followed was a surprisingly by-the-numbers 11-song set from remaining original members Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith and newcomers Ian Crawford (ex-The Cab) and Dallon Weekes (The Brobecks), who replaced Ryan Ross and Jon Walker in late July.
Whether it was the band’s co-pilot status–Panic was sandwiched between The Sounds and reunited headliners No Doubt—lack of prep time or transitional growing pains, Urie & Co. failed to make much of a statement concerning ... anything. Between opener “Time to Dance” and final number “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out was represented by six songs to stylistic-departure follow-up Pretty. Odd.’s four (“She’s a Handsome Woman,” “That Green Gentleman,” “Northern Downpour,” “Nine in the Afternoon”). The ratio might indicate that rumors of a full return to Panic’s platinum-selling sound lack merit, were it not for tellingly titled recent single “New Perspective” packing the most energy of all.
Though Smith grinned dutifully and Crawford’s thrashing man-mane provided more visual appeal than the traditionally stationary Ross ever did, perhaps it simply pained Urie to revisit songs conceived with his longtime cohorts. Besides introducing Crawford and Weekes, he refrained from addressing the split in his minimal chatter; even his oft-skyrocketing eyebrows remained noticeably subdued. The crowd responded in kind, raising a mere half-dozen pairs of hands at any given moment.
From burlesque-punk circus sideshow to plush, blissed-out retrofest, Panic’s live shows have long expressed a certain theatricality, a fully formed identity, a seamless cohesion that softened universal perceptions of the band as a lucky-break upstart. But on Friday night, Panic 2.0 was just another skinny-tie-and-dark-vest-clad emo-pop foursome. The exclamation point may be back, but the enthusiasm behind it has yet to return.