All words: Bryce Rudow and Josh Stewart
All photos: Jeremy Kim
Josh Stewart is the Editor/Co-founder of New Dust and is normally not this grouchy. Bryce writes the weekly Tunes You Should F*cking Know column for BYT. He has seen both Coheed and Cambria and Taking Back Sunday in the past year, and he doesn’t have to defend those choices.
“I’m the narrator and this is the prologue…”
Co-reviewing a show is tricky. There’s nuance and grace that goes into capturing one show with two voices. Fortunately, Panic! at the Disco at Ram’s Head Live as part of the HFSMas Nutcracker is not a show. It is an experience; one made up of tiny other experiences all blended together. As individuals, we each had a few of our own, but as two jaded music elitists in their late 20’s, that night we took in more than a handful through the same lens.
Below are some of the experiences we both saw in front of us and felt inside. Scattered they may well seem, but taken as a whole, they make up what happens to panic after the disco.
Bryce Taylor Rudow: Have you ever gone on a long road trip? You know when you pull off at a random exit to pee or get food, and you walk around, you notice a subtle distinct alien feeling to the whole place? The people around you look normal enough but everything’s just a bit…different. That is what walking into Ram’s Head Live! (exclamation point included) in Baltimore is like.
It looks like what a commercial for Sprite Grapefruit Remix or a new type of gum might imagine a rock venue to look like.
BTR: There was a hype woman, named Gina Crash, to warm up the crowd before Panic! went on. Some crowd member seemed excited at this. Someone yelled something and she replied, “Take my top off? Haha Ok!” in the kind of playfully dismissive way that reminds me that morning radio is a horrible fate for all involved.
JS: To start, I don’t have phone service. It is 10 PM in Baltimore on a Monday and Ram’s Head smells like a McDonald’s. The crowd was born between 1987 and 1991, with the youngest patrons at the front and oldest milling around the back. This is not a bad thing, I am just providing “context” as a “journalist”.
JS: Then, Gina Crash of HFS 97.5, Baltimore’s Rock Alternative introduced the band and thanked the sponsor of the HFSMas Nutcracker — Monster Jose Cuervo energy tequila drink.
JS: It looked like 2008 and sounded like 2005. I am pretty sure The Killers in 2006 nailed the backdrop, complete with the Panic! at the Disco cursive font — the “we’re Vegas but hip” backdrop font.
JS: I would make a joke about the band ripping off the Reverend Horton Heat’s wardrobe but no one reading this knows who that is.
BTR: The band dressed like they could be in the 2011 remake of Swingers.
JS: Brendon Urie, the Mormon raised singer was wearing skin tight pleather pants. He is the Ryan Seacrest of emo.
BTR: Lead singer Brendan Urie looks like that douchebag your ex-girlfriend would be dating if you were on The OC.
JS: Immediately the lyrics were indecipherable.
BTR: They started with “Time To Dance,” a song I once remember swooning over, but that sexiness has melted into a flamboyant overloaded mess.
JS: There was a pseudo-rock a billy post-punk vibe.
BTR: There was a trap music breakdown between a few songs that I can only assume was brought to you by Sprite Grapefruit Remix.
JS: There was a themed, “white glove” mic stand in addition to another mic. Two mics. Must have.
BTR: I’ve always said there needs to be an emo cover band like there are for the 90’s and 80’s music genres. This band sounds and behaves like what I imagine that act being like. Everything a little too glossy and exaggerated
JS: I don’t know the names of the songs but I have some suggested P!ATD song titles that I think work nicely:
“Exclamation Mark, A Child of Divorce”
“Vanilla! E-Cig at Ram’s Head”
“Reflection Of The Echoed Pleather”
“Contrast On the Coveted Blazer”
“Charmed City? Hardly Knew her”
“(De)-Validating Your Youth at A Concert Instead of Watching Monday Night Football”
“Tongue Tie: A Reunion Tour Race To The Finish”
“Ryan Seacrest Has Nothing On Us, Baby!”
BTR: They had a feel good indie anthem that will go on to inspire the masses to do things like try Sprite Grapefruit Remix or a new type of gum.
JS: Favorite lyric quotes:
“This is about a storm that rages inside my brain everyday.”
“You’ll dance to anything.”
BTR: Someone made a sign! Someone MADE a sign!
JS: Miley Cyrus meets Joy Division. Complete with a bleepy bloop machine.
BTR: When the two guitarists went back to back during a closing riff, I made a note to remind the future emo cover band to steal that move.
BTR: As I was pointing out that the lead singer had just lept onto the drum platform like The Crow, he DID A FUCKING BACKFLIP (a move stolen from the violinist from YELLOWCARD).
JS: P!ATD covered both Journey and AC/DC. Urie had his Steve Perry moment with “Any way you want it” while I have to give him credit for absolutely NAILING an impression of Brian Johnson from AC/DC with “You Shook Me All Night Long”.
BTR: Right after he didn’t hit the high note in “this pla-a-ce” during their hit song, a hot pink bra was handed to him from the stage. What?! That goes on still?! My heart hurt for all feminists and parents of daughters
BTR: The first time I saw them I remember feeling like I was at some bizarre Vaudeville carnival and wishing I was old enough to order some cool drink I didn’t even know about. This made me feel like I was old and alone and possibly like I should be drinking a Sprite Grapefruit Remix.
This review has been brought to you by Sprite Grapefruit Remix Gum