The members of punky rock band Panic! At the Disco have fulfilled at least one childhood fantasy since becoming rock stars: joining the circus. For their U.S. tour, Panic! Invited the Laurent Dossier Vaudeville Cirque onstage to do classic routines while the band blasted through most of their debut album.

The members of punky rock band Panic! At the Disco have fulfilled at least one childhood fantasy since becoming rock stars: joining the circus. For their sold-out headlining U.S. tour, Panic! invited three-piece burlesque throwback group the Laurent Dossier Vaudeville Cirque onstage to do classic routines while the band blasted through most of their debut, million-selling album “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” (Fueled by Ramen/Decaydance) and a couple of covers. It was a smart decision: Allowing the circus troupe room to spin, strip and mime distracted from the band’s often sound-alike songs, which reach for heights they never quite hit.

In less than a year, the members of Panic! have gone from anonymous high school students to MTV hitmakers. Their stage show — complete with a colorful gothic backdrop reminiscent of the video for the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight” (covered, adoringly, by the band) — is far more sophisticated than anything attempted by peers like Taking Back Sunday or Fall Out Boy.

Singer Brendon Urie hops between bashing his piano and roaming the stage, looking far more at home than fellow Vegas rock star Brandon Flowers of the Killers did at the same point in his career. He even participated in some of the vaudeville, can-canning and bebopping in choreographed routines that blurred the line between frontman and huckster entertainer.

But, again, the songs just aren’t there yet.

Panic! is at its best when the band members jump between not-so-powerful riffs to breathtaking stop-start drums and lilting, writhing pianos. They lose momentum when they’re trying to emote while subscribing to convention.

Their cover choices (the aforementioned Pumpkins tune and Radiohead’s gorgeous “Karma Police,” given a little lift from drummer Spencer Smith) and their incorporation of performance elements suggest they’re going for something bigger, but whether they are capable of getting there is this circus’ elephant in the room.

Panic! At the Disco

Wiltern LG; 2,200 capacity; $22

Production

Presented by Live Nation. Reviewed Aug. 2, 2006.

Cast

Band: Brendon Urie, Ryan Ross, Spencer Smith, Johnny Walker, Bart Nason, Erik Ronick. Guest: Laurent Dossier Vaudeville Cirque.
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