2008 Honda Civic Tour featuring Panic At the Disco

Saturday, 12 April 2008

At 10am on Thursday, April 10, multiple tour buses blocked traffic outside The Warfield and husky men unloaded gear for the kick off of the Honda Civic Tour featuring Panic at the Disco, Motion City Soundtrack, The Hush Sound and Phantom Planet—a lineup whose fanbase may or may not be old enough to actually drive. 12 hours later, inside The Warfield, screaming teens flanked the stage, standing beneath a projector screen displaying text messages sent by people in the audience. They were ready to dance, cheer, scream and text.

By 10pm the crowd had been rightly worked into a frenzy by Panic at the Disco’s precocious 20-year-old frontman Brendon Urie as he issued his signature emo whine on “Nine in the Afternoon,” the first single from PATD’s new release Pretty. Odd. Girls squealed and smoke puffed up behind the band, who stood in the middle of a fabricated garden motif wearing button-down shirts and tasteful vests.

Beneath fake clouds and flashing hot pink lights PATD knocked out a few songs from their previous record A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, with Urie screaming on the fast-paced hit, “The only difference between martyrdom and suicide is press coverage,” and breathing heavily enough on “Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off” to make the parents in the audience a little uncomfortable.

The Las Vegas quartet also cued up some tunes from their new album, issuing nice guitar work on the forthcoming single “That Green Gentleman (Things Have Changed),” and a strong keyboard-driven sound on the mid-tempo number “She’s a Handsome Woman.” If the text message screen alone was any indication, the kids love Panic At The Disco.

Other things that they love? Paramore, Fall Out Boy, Harry Potter, and apparently a member of the stage crew. (Text message: “Guy in the black baseball cap from the stage crew, you’re HOTT. Look in the last row!”) Oh, and Motion City Soundtrack.

When MCS lead singer Justin Pierre asked the crowd, “Have any of you heard of us before?” it functioned almost as a rhetorical question, as the crowd mightily cheered and danced to “Fell in Love Without You” from their recent Even If It Kills Me release. MCS came out swinging, the limber keyboardist jumping and thrashing and doing a handstand on his board as the band played “My Favorite Accident.” Sounding like a combination of Lit and Social Distortion, the Minneapolis band scored the biggest cheer of the night, and set the floor shaking, with the get-happy anthem “Everything is Alright.”

While the night was officially kicked off by Phantom Planet, the band best known for once harboring actor Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore) as a member (and for their So-Cal ode “California,” a.k.a. The O.C. theme song), the biggest surprise of the evening was jazzy Chicago foursome The Hush Sound.

Sitting behind an upright piano, the pretty blonde singer, Greta Salpeter, screamed a crazy high note and set to tickling the ivories with Nellie McKay-ish fervor on “Medicine Man.” While all eyes were on Salpeter as she huskily sang the slow number, “Hurricane,” it was the bluesy “Wine Red” that truly showcased the talents of the band. And when the texts were displayed again, the verdict was in—thumbs up to The Hush Sound.

Of course the night belonged to Panic, and more specifically to Urie, who was, after all, getting ready to celebrate his 21st birthday. And what better way to celebrate than with a couple hundred of your closest fans who are all happy to let you know how much they love you—via text message.

For more on the Honda Civic Tour, including tour dates, here:

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