Panic! at the Disco and Jack’s Mannequin at The Patriot Center, Fairfax, VA 11-11-2006

Yeah these photos look like they were taken with a fucking VCR then run through posterize on PhotoShop then saved as a .jpg 8,000 times. It was dark, I was in the seats, and I had (have?) a 6MP camera.

This was one of the worst shows I’ve ever been to. I’ve been surprisingly lucky that virtually every show I’ve been to has surpassed my expectations but this one was the outlier, outshitted only by a Brand New concert that I actually thought I would be crushed to death at. I’d (I’ve?) seen both bands before and they were both great (a little surprisingly so on Panic! at the Disco’s part.) I think this was just a great (harsh) lesson in ‘playing in an arena doesn’t make you an arena band.’

Also the sound system at the Patriot Center sucked a ton of ass, which didn’t help.

Jack’s Mannequin just seemed lost, physically. I guess it’s a ‘command of the stage’ thing. I remember reading Keith Richards’s Life and he often praised Mick Jagger’s ability to utilize every inch of the stage, whether they were in a stadium or a club. Jack’s Mannequin were in a 10,000 seat venue playing to 1,000 people.

Panic! at the Disco went the complete other route, don’t fill the stage up with shit if you can’t take command of said shit. It’s a hard criticism to justify when it photographs so beautifully, but that was a hot mess in person. They were just a bunch of literal boys in a very hyped Myspace band with no headlining experience lost in a sea of face paint and alternative titties. I recognize and respect the sort of burlesque/freak show/carnival ambiance they were trying to cultivate, but they got swallowed up in it instead of having it bolster their performance.

I almost hate being complimentary because of how ambivalent I’ve become about them, but Green Day are great at this. I saw them play a Halloween show right after American Idiot came out, and they’d picked up all the sets and theatrics and whatnot, and even with the added over-the-top Halloween element, I have to admit they owned it. It was grand but they never lost their grasp over the audience and let it distract them. They were a big band and they seemed even bigger for it.

The other big problem was that the PA system was a piece of shit. I’m not sure what Panic! at the Disco is up to now, or the current state of stadium PA systems, but at the time they used a ton of programming and as unsuited as stadiums are for live music, they were even more unsuited for canned music. Try putting a bunch of Atari bleep-bloop electronic music noises (not live) through a tin can speaker system in a college sports arena. It was ear splitting, and just… sad. Whatever part of their performance was not being de-hanced by moon goddess praising strippers was killed by the sound of Die Antwoord being played through a cell phone.  It reminded me of when I was twelve and my cousin used to go sing karaoke in the middle of a flea market. That karaoke system seemed sanctioned by Dr. Dre in comparison.

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