Panic! at the Disco's big-break story dates them. Formed by high-school friends in 2004, the dramatic Las Vegas band first caught the attention of Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz when they sent him a track on emo teen-diary website LiveJournal. While I can definitely get down with some "Sugar, We're Goin Down," I've never really gotten the appeal of the Bumbershoot headliner that's still rocking post-MySpace. So I enlisted the help of my favorite Panic! at the Disco fan—my best friend's 19-year-old little sister, Zoë Davies—to help understand the phenomenon.
When did you first hear Panic! at the Disco?
I think I was in seventh grade when I first heard "I Write Sins Not Tragedies," their most famous song. It just felt different than all the stuff that we were hearing on the radio, because it was a mixture of rock and pop. They wore guyliner and their lyrics were really strange. Brendon Urie's voice is really unique, and I don't really want to compare, but it's kind of like Freddie Mercury. It pulls you in. They became famous because of Fall Out Boy, but it was different than what was on the radio then, which was Fall Out Boy and that sort of punk boy-band thing.
Are Panic! at the Disco a boy band?
Sort of. They are a boy band, they just don't want to be called that.
Are they cute? Is that part of the appeal?
I don't actually think they're cute at all [laughs]. But their pull is not because they're attractive, even though they were considered a boy band. I personally think Brendon Urie looks super weird, although he's gotten better. He's gotten an "in" haircut now. But he has that attitude where if you don't like him, he doesn't care. And sometimes that can be cool, but sometimes it's off-putting.
How is it off-putting?
It's just off-putting to come off like you think you're so cool that you don't need your fans. I made the stupid mistake of following him on Instagram and Vine. It was the worst idea I've ever had. I like to follow celebrities, and usually they're pretty boring, but he's just so cocky. Like, he took a video of him getting a tattoo, and he was like, "I don't give a fuck what you think about my tattoo because my body is blah blah blah." And I was like, why are you posting this on the internet then? He did this thing called Positive Hardcore Thursday where he would just scream stuff. It was horrible. Don't follow people on social media. It's a terrible idea.
But it didn't shake your love for the band?
I still am deeply in love with their first album, and one thing I really love about them is that they will play every single hit they've ever had live. He does understand his fan base, in that he knows that he has to play what we want to hear. A lot of times, people come out with a new album and you go to see them live and all they play is their whole new album, and no one can sing along and no one can dance, because they're like, "We haven't heard this!" I just like it when I feel like they want to be there for you, when an artist seems appreciative and they talk to you and interact with the crowd, and Panic! does that.
Is there a specific mood you have to be in to turn on Panic!?
Yes. Two moods. There's like, you're belting it out in your car because you're happy and you want to sing loud and you're hanging out with your friends and you're cruising or whatever. But then also if you're pissed off, you can listen to some of the cheater songs and belt and be angry.
Would you recommend that people go see them at Bumbershoot?
If you don't like their stuff, obviously I wouldn't go. But if you know some of their hits, then I think you should go. They don't really have graphics and it's not ridiculous like Miley Cyrus on a hot dog, but the drums light up and there's fire that shoots out at some point. It's fun because the whole crowd sings. That's my favorite moment in any show, where if there's a song—or in their case, every song they play—and the whole crowd sings, because you feel like you're a part of something.
Is there anything else potential Panic! fans should know?
All I know is, don't follow Brendon Urie on social media.