Panic! At The Disco

For a band that played its first live show less than a year ago, Panic! At The Disco is working its way up the road circuit pretty dang quickly.

The group’s summer headlining tour has been a sold-out success, with packed houses including Cleveland’s 5,500-seat Plain Dealer Pavilion and the 6,207-capacity Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia.

And to think last summer they were just another four anonymous teenagers making noise in a Las Vegas garage. Sound crazy?

“No, it’s totally crazy!” agent Andrew Simon of APA told Pollstar, laughing. “It’s great. I’m really happy for them. I think it’s been tremendous. What amazes me about them is that they have such a strong opinion of how they want to be presented

visually, musically, everything. I don’t find that with a lot of bands their age.”

Scott Nagelberg of Crush Music Media Management told Pollstar the group is “probably one of the smartest bands that I’ve ever worked with, especially for their age.”

Panic! At The Disco got its start as a project of childhood friends Ryan Ross and Spencer Smith.

“I was 12 or 13, and Ryan was the same age, when he got his first guitar and I got my first drum set for Christmas,” Smith told Pollstar. “I think the first song we learned was ‘All The Small Things’ by Blink-182.”

Within a couple months, the pair began coming up with original material: “20 or 25 songs that were just horrific sounding, just horrible,” according to Smith.

Eventually, the group grew to include vocalist Brendon Urie and bassist Brent Wilson and began refining its sound, blending emo/pop-punk with drum machines, synthesizers, accordions and more. Using Ross’ laptop, the quartet recorded two songs and posted them on

Ross posted a link to the tunes on the online journal of Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz. Enthralled, Wentz immediately signed the group to his Fueled By Ramen imprint, Decaydance, which released the band’s debut album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, last September.

Wentz also easily convinced Simon and Nagelberg to get involved.

“When I heard the two songs … I knew right away that this was the band,” Nagelberg said.

After playing its first show ever in August 2005, Panic! At The Disco hit the road as the opening act for Acceptance and three other groups.

The Nintendo Fusion Tour, headlined by Fall Out Boy, was next, followed by a lengthy stint with The Academy Is … .

Panic! At The Disco

Panic!’s first headlining tour launched in June with support from Dresden Dolls, OK Go, and The Hush Sound.

Despite interruptions including the abrupt departure of Wilson and his replacement with high school friend Jon Walker, as well as the death of Ross’ father, the group has managed to pull off numbers this summer that most acts can only hope to achieve after years of touring.

Panic!’s stage show has evolved to include a troupe of dancers and an elaborate backdrop anchored by a 16-foot-tall windmill. The band also enlisted two extra multi-instrumentalists to help bring the strings and electronic textures of A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out to life.

The group will take its show to Europe for a round of festivals in late August, followed by a four-date Australian trip and a Euro club tour in October.

So what’s next? Arenas, of course.

“These guys have really stepped up to another level, to the point where you’re looking at the show and you’re like, ‘Oh yeah, these guys are going to an arena,'” Simon said. “Which I think is amazing, because I think a lot of people don’t necessarily spend the money reinvesting in themselves the way these guys have.”

“If they had gone out with just the four of them, just playing in front of a banner behind them or nothing, they wouldn’t be as happy,” Nagelberg said. “Even though the tour would be successful and they would potentially come home with more money, it’s about feeling comfortable and bringing the show they want to bring, and that’s worth more to them than anything else.”

Both Simon and Nagelberg used the phrase “raising the bar” in describing the band’s live set, and both agreed that they’d never seen a band rise through the ranks so quickly.

“It’s moved faster than anybody possibly could have imagined,” Nagelberg said. “It’s lightning in a bottle, and it’s a matter of working and taking their great ideas and turning them into something feasible and into a reality.”

“There’s not a lot of bands out there right now at their level who are putting so much back into their show,” Simon said. “It’s a real spectacle.”

Tentative plans call for the band to spend late December and early January writing new material, then record a sophomore album in early 2007. For now, though, the group is focusing on developing its already-extravagant live show for the arena stage.

Dates are still being firmed up for the band’s fall tour, but expect to see the group headlining 6,000- to 12,000-seat venues across North America.

“They’re just going to keep outdoing themselves when they play bigger venues – they’re just going to bring even more of a show,” Nagelberg said.

“When it comes down to it, they’re doing what they enjoy the most. They’re smart.”