A 20-something’s story of emo nostalgia

Words, Photos and Video by Shelbie Malinski

The first time I heard a Panic! At the Disco song, I was in fifth grade.

My mom heard one of their songs on the radio, thought it was good, and bought “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” at Target. If you’ve heard that album, you know it’s not exactly appropriate for a 10-year-old. We got about three songs in before we had to switch back to Radio Disney, but the damage had already been done. Later that week I stole the CD out of her car, burned it onto my iPod Nano and thought I was the most rebellious kid in fifth grade.

Eight years later, I saw them in concert for the first time at the Skyway Theater in Minneapolis on a freezing January day. I waited outside for five hours in order to be in the front row and almost got frostbite — yet I felt the exact same way I did as a 10-year-old listening to my iPod under the covers in the middle of the night.

I never thought I would see them headline an arena and it was a little weird to hold a ticket that listed Panic! At the Disco as the headliner on March 14, 2017. But I was ready to embrace it.

You could see the thought that had gone into preparing this tour, from the pyrotechnics to the lighting and design aesthetics. At 9 p.m., the sounds of “Don’t Threaten me with a Good Time” began, and out danced frontman Brendon Urie.

It’s obvious that the stage is where he wants to be. He commands it like the man who’s had to go through the trials, tribulations, sonic and talent changes that Panic! has gone through over the past 13 years. The band has come a long way from their old emo days, moving from eyeliner to tailored classic suits. While I love “Death of a Bachelor” and was living for the design aspects of this tour, I couldn’t help but miss the emo days of Panic’s past. The arena made the tour somehow impersonal for a band that I had related to for more than half of my lifetime.

There’s nothing wrong with appreciating the accomplishments of a band that’s overcome hurdles in order to make it to the top, and I understand that their new album completely leaves behind the emo days for more radio-friendly pop-rock hits. But is it wrong for me to want the bone-chilling ballad of “This is Gospel” from the album “Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die” mixed with the alternative classic “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage” from “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” that I used to listen to under my covers at night?

I think not.

Still, I would be lying if I said I didn’t dance, laugh and cry through the night, and that I haven’t been listening to Panic! nonstop since the show.

If you need me, I’ll be blissfully living in 2006.

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