During my 23 years, I hadn’t received the opportunity to go to many concerts. This was my third official concert experience. Being a long-time fan of Weezer and Panic at the Disco since high school, I can say the following with complete assurance. Listening to these bands live was better than I could have ever imagined or expected.
The night opened with Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness with “All Our Lives.” They were lively, upbeat, and engaging with the crowd. The lead singer even stood on top of the piano while singing at the top of his lungs. During the first few songs, I thought to myself this is a band I would have loved in high school. It had a similar feel to that of Nada Surf and Jack’s Mannequin.
Seconds after writing that sentence, the lead singer announced that he was going to sing a song from his former band, Jack’s Mannequin, singing “Dark Blue.” I couldn’t believe it, I was sitting in front of an artist I had listened to on countless car rides and trips with my family to drown out the sound of my siblings screaming in the back seat. And now, very unexpectedly, there he was in front of me. Although the band only had the opportunity to perform a 30 minute set, they ended the night with a bang. Andrew stood on top of the keyboard and stomped on the keys before jumping to the stage floor.
The 30 minute intermission between acts was about the only pause you would get from Panic at the Disco. As the curtains opened, you could feel the crowd’s anticipation. Everyone began screaming immediately, even minutes before the band members entered the stage. Lead singer Brendon Urie kicked off the night with “Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time.” It gave the audience a taste of the unbelievable experience they just entered into. With intense light shows that perfectly emulated the power behind Urie’s voice, the audience was in for one hell of a show.
The lead singer maintained strong, unwavering vocals with bursts of high-pitched notes that even Led Zeppelin would have been proud of. It was truly amazing to watch Urie’s energy on stage, singing with such power while frantically moving up and down the stage. The band barely stopped to take a breath in between, with one song after another. After about 20 minutes, Panic took a quick break to welcome to their Chicago audience. “All of this bullshit on social media, people telling you that you can’t be who you are. All I have to say to that is, is fuck you,” Urie said. He then raised his hand, sticking up his middle finger and introduced the song “Girls/Girls/Boys.”
The band kept it simple with brass (1 trumpet, 1 saxophone, and 1 trombone), drums, guitar, base guitar, and occasionally Urie on the piano. The brass shone through on numbers like “Nine in the Afternoon” and “Crazy = Genius,” which featured an amazing drum competition between Urie and the band’s drummer.
The next song Urie introduced as “A song I’ve always wanted to learn to sing on stage.” With that, the band began to play Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. And it was fucking awesome, despite Urie telling the audience his voice was going before the start of the song.
The Panic at the Disco experience ended with “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.” The first time I heard this song was in middle school. I can now say with complete confidence that Panic at the Disco has succeeded in fulfilling my concert deprivation.
During the 30 minute intermission before Weezer, I walked outside the arena to get a drink. I could overhear audience members saying how great of a performance Panic at the Disco was. They also said that hopefully Weezer could put on a show that was just as amazing. But I knew they could, because they are Weezer.
The curtains opened with three of the band members leaning together up on stage in a very mellow manner. But that didn’t last long. Within seconds after Weezer first few notes, streamers exploded into the air and passed over the audience in front of me. It accompanied an unbelievable guitar power by Rivers Cuomo that filled the arena. After only two songs in, the crowd began to loudly chant “Weezer.” It was then that I realized music legends were among us. And it was even more apparent when hearing Cuomo on the guitar. With such powerful sounds, you wouldn’t believe they could possibly come from one person. Even their new songs like “All Jacked Up,” sounded as if they had been practicing and playing it for years. That’s the power of Weezer.
With minimal effort, the lead singer encouraged the audience to sing “Oh-Oh” during “Perfect Situation.” It was during this song that Rivers played a guitar solo that would be considered unfathomable. If notes could kill, these beautifully cutting edge strokes of a guitar would. “Thank God For Girls,” was the next song. The performance featuring meaningful background graphics of strong, influential women. From the female labor force of World War II to Ellen DeGeneres, to Caitlyn Jenner and Beyoncé, to Michelle Obama.
Weezer has the power to go from 0 to 100, quite literally in terms of sound. They can fluidly drop into a soft ballad, and just as effortlessly bump the power back to 100 again within seconds.
During “King of the World,” Rivers dressed in a crown and a royal robe, while pushing a Weezer ice-cream stand. This just shows how fun and playful the band members’ personalities are and how they bring that to the stage. For Weezer to share that sense of light-heartedness with their audience members is encouraging as a fan. It was during this song’s climax that all three guitarists played their guts out, with endless pounding of the drums. I could feel the pulsing in my chest. It was amazing.
“Say It Ain’t So,” was the final song, or so I thought. Rivers lifted his guitar into the air as the vibrations of the guitar continued to play out on it’s own. It was almost as if by magic. Weezer exited, and the stage went dark. After a few minutes, the crowd stayed in a fixed position, chanting Weezer in hopes that they would return. And they did. After an incredible auditory experience that I would have been satisfied to end the night with, Weezer came back to the stage. It started first with a solo Rivers who began to play the piano. Then, the rest of the members joining him as the song “El Scorcho” neared its close.
“Buddy Holly” ended the night, with Weezer playing just as strongly as they did in the first song. Suddenly, a confetti explosion released a endless stream of color into the air for a solid minute. The infamous W for Weezer shined brightly behind.
To have the opportunity to listen to these bands live, within 200 feet of their presence, is truly an amazing experience. Especially having listened to them through headphones since I was 16 or younger. Even days after Sunday’s performance, I’m still on a concert high. I’m still re-watching videos I took, and youtubing Panic at the Disco and Weezer. I wish I could go again. But until they return to Chicago, I’ll just have to settle for the memories and listening to these amazing musicians on the radio. Congratulations Panic at the Disco and Weezer on an absolutely incredible performance that still has me buzzing.