A full 12-hours before the first opening band would take the stage, there are already fans camped outside the Pageant. Literally. They have a tent.
While Panic at the Disco had left the lions, tigers, and circus behind them, they didn't forget what it takes to satisfy such dedicated fans as this. Which, of course, is bubbles. But more on this later.
Headlining the 2008 Honda Civic Tour, Panic at the Disco delivered a jubilant performance to a sold out crowd at the Pageant, returning to the venue after a two-year absence. Led by Brendon Urie on vox and guitar, Panic at the Disco laid into a sincere, upbeat, and unapologetically fun set that drew heavily from their 2008 release, Pretty. Odd.
Compared to their last tour, an exclamation point wasn't all the band dropped. Gone was the guyliner, ruffles, and velvet of the band's bombastic, baroque-glam circus of the 2006.
Instead, button down shirts were the wardrobe selection of choice, with even representation between the floral prints and classic stripes. Lead guitarist Ryan Ross and childhood friend Spencer Smith on drums, who made up the floral contingent, also rocked rocked vests for a hint of the old flare.
In addition to their on-stage threads, the band's music performance took a similar transformation over the last two years, moving from their punk-pop cabaret to a sound owing more to the sunny, swirling sounds of the Beatles, Beachboys, and Kinks.
Visually, though, the show wasn't without its own theatric touches. Ivy and silk flowers adorned the mic stands for Urie, Ross, and bassist Jon Walker, while an over-sized, Burton-esque sign announcing “Welcome to the Sound of Pretty Odd” anchored the back of the stage.
One of the most thrilling moments of the set came during Panic's performance of “Behind the Sea,” during which bubble machines positioned in the rafters provided the perfect compliment to two-thousand swaying arms and a kaleidoscopic play of light over the stage.
Panic at the Disco are headlining the Honda Civic Tour, which also features Motion City Soundtrack, the Hush Sound, and Phantom Planet, in support of their March 25 release, Pretty. Odd.
A full set of images is available after the tech notes.
Compared to the last time I photographed Panic at the Disco, this was a much more straight forward shoot, without the same bombastic fanfare that surrounded the last tour.
When frontman Brandon Urie traversed the stage with dramatic gestures on the 2006 tour, he was much more static during this show, content to play guitar behind his mic stand for most of the first three songs.
Lead-guitarist and songwriter Ryan Ross was slightly more wide in his travels around the stage, but still maintained a tight orbit around his florally-decorated mic stand.
If anything, the stationary nature of the beginning performance made creating dynamic shots slightly more of a challenge.
I shot for the first three songs of this performance along several other photographers. No flash, of course, though the lighting was generally good enough that such supplements were unnecessary.
Lighting for the first song was by far the “cleanest” and consistent of the three, and produced many of the best shots of the night. Abundant white on the performers set the pace for the first song, which also had the great benefit of some nice blue accent lighting from the rear of the stage.
During the second and third songs, the lighting was slightly more atmospheric, with more reliance on an array of stage-level lights for a moody, under-lighting effect.
One very nice aspect of this show was the inclusion of two spotlights on the side stages, which were often trained on Brandon Urie and made for a relatively pain-free shoot.
Oddly enough, the first few songs seemed to quite good for photography compared to later lighting schemes, which employed more gobo effects and other atmospheric treatments.
Lenses & Gear:
I shot this set using the Nikon D3 and my trio of f/2.8 zooms: the Nikon 14-24mm, the Nikon 24-70mm, and the Nikon 70-200mm.
As usual for the standard rock show, the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 was used as the primary lens for this shoot, while the ultra-wide and telephoto lenses were largely supplementary.
Exposure & Metering:
Thanks to the relatively abundant lighting for this production, I shot at a very comfortable 1/500, f/3.2, and ISO 1600 for much of this set. At most, I stopped down to f/4.5 during the brightest portion of the shoot.
For such a large production, which in itself is no guarantee of a good photo experience, I was pleasantly surprised at the relative abundance of usable light for this tour.
This is one gig I wholeheartedly recommend photographing should you have the chance. If nothing else, it's flat out fun.
The below image set also includes images from Panic's 2006 tour.