Birth, death, and rebirth: A (kind of) brief summary of Panic! at the Disco’s rollercoaster career

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Photo credit: Shirlaine Forrest

I’ve been a Panic! at the Disco fan since 2005. Yeah, you read that right. I’ve been listening to this band for almost 11 years, and man, let me tell you. It’s been a wild ride.

If you’re not familiar with the band, or if you’ve only ever listened to that goddamn door song (its name is “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”, you’re welcome), here’s the basic stuff you need to know.

The band was founded by guitarist/lyricist/singer/control freak Ryan Ross, drummer Spencer Smith, bassist Brent Wilson, and some other dude that isn’t relevant. Trevor? Mike? Who cares. What matters is that they used to go by the ridiculous name of Pet Salamander, which is actually as ridiculous as Panic! at the Disco, I guess.

Trevor/Mike eventually left the band, and Wilson recruited fellow geek Brendon Urie to play guitar. They soon realized that Urie could sing better than the entire state of Nevada, and had him take the role of lead singer. Which was obviously the best decision ever, because Ross’ voice was not meant to lead a band. Sorry, dude.

After basically harassing Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz and his label to death, the kids (they were all teenagers, so yes, kids) got a record deal, and their first album, “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out”, was released.

I’ve witnessed and been part of every era this band has gone through. I’m pretty sure most of my gray hairs have been caused by them. I have listed every era below, and I could have been more detailed about it, but I don’t have time to write the “War and Peace” of bandom.

The A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out era (2005-2006)

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In which the band was extremely theatrical, their music was forever labeled as emo, everyone got sick of that shut that goddamn door song, they got rid of Wilson and hired flip-flop enthusiast Jon Walker to replace him, they unexpectedly won VMA video of the year, and they were suddenly more famous than their mentoring band a.k.a Fall Out Boy.

The Cabin era (2007)

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In which the band went to some cabin in the middle of nowhere, got high, recorded an album that ended up not being released, and every single band member grew a beard. Seriously, where the hell is the Cabin album?!

The Pretty.Odd era (2008)

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In which the band decided to channel the Beatles for some reasonmost fans hated the album and called them sellouts, everyone dressed like a hippie, girlfriends and ex-girlfriends were the source of major drama, and the band looked high 24/7. Walker and Ross were already secretly plotting the band’s demise.

The Creative Differences era (2009-2010)

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In which Ross and Walker quit the band because they were suddenly “too good” for it (they weren’t), Urie and Smith kept the name and the songs and the talent, the band released a song about blow jobs (which was awesome) for some Megan Fox movie, Urie and Ross reunited briefly at a Hooters for wings and awkwardness (just kidding, it was not planned), and loyal Panic! fans spent their days and nights crying over the split. Or maybe that was just me.

The Vices & Virtues era (2011-2013)

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In which Urie decided to prove the world he is a talented bastard, delusional fans were convinced that every single lyric was dedicated to Ryan Ross, one of their songs was featured in a Diet Coke commercial, Urie broke his ankle on stage and acted amused about it, and the beautiful, uber-talented Dallon Weekes joined the band as a bass player. He doesn’t wear flip-flops often.

The Too Weird To Live, Too Rare to Die era (2013-2015ish)

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In which Urie loved synth a bit too much, “This is Gospel” broke everyone’s heart, Urie got married, Smith quit the band to take care of himself, Urie became a Vine star (???), delusional fans were convinced that every single lyric was dedicated to Ryan Ross, and the worst Panic! video ever was released. #justiceforNicotine

The Death of a Bachelor era (late 2015-present)

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In which Urie is the only original member left, Urie’s music has been played everywhere and I feel like a proud mother, Panic! has scored their first #1 album ever, and delusional fans are still convinced that every single lyric is dedicated to Ryan Ross. Guys, please let it go.

– – –

All these eras have been a rollercoaster ride, but my love for the band has never changed. I was a teenager when I first started listening to them, and their music has been the soundtrack to my life.

“Fever” reminds me of my angsty, teenage years. “Pretty.Odd” is an ode to my early 20s, which were filled with self-discovery and bad decisions. “Too Weird to Live” was the perfect background music for my mid-20s and my first meaningful, long-term relationship. And as I approach the end of my 20s, “Death of a Bachelor” has filled my life with optimism and endless excitement for life.

People are always surprised when I tell them Panic! is my favorite band. Mostly because my music taste is all over the place, and I feel as if most people expect me to have some obscure band as a favorite.

Well, no. My favorite band is a band people have made fun of for ages, dismissing it as “that emo band that sounds like Fall Out Boy.” And I don’t care.

Panic! is so much more than just a band to me; they are my confessors, my therapists. Because when people hurt me, I listen to them. When something great happens in my life, I listen to them. Their music is embedded in my life in an irreversible way.

Here’s to the next era. I’m not going anywhere.

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