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Honda Civic Tour – Uptown Theatre, Kansas City

Previously posted on PopWreckoning.com on 6/2/2008:
For a packed theater of 2,500, the Uptown was surprisingly quiet until “yell if you love Ryro!” flashed across the large screen in the center of the stage causing a majority of the teenage girls in the crowd to squeal with glee. This is the setting of 2008’s Honda Civic Tour with headliners Panic! at the Disco.

Opening act Phantom Planet had a little more work to do to warrant the same reaction from the crowd as the text about Panic at the Disco did. Although few in the crowd knew the lyrics to any of their songs, Phantom Planet drew in the audience with their rock star command of the stage and audience interaction, with singer Alex Greenwald jumping into the audience at different times.

The crowd showed their enthusiasm by clapping along with nearly every song, but the real crowd pleaser was “Big Brat.” Everything about this song was bigger and better than all their other songs. Tourmates The Hush Sound joined in on the percussion for this song creating a big instrumental build up that had the crowd pushing forward for a better view. Phantom Planet closed their set with their most well-known song, “California,” but after the energy displayed during “Big Brat,” it fell a little flat.

The Hush Sound took the stage after Phantom Planet and jumped right into “Medicine Man,” a song recognizable from a few commercials for the television series “House.” This was a good choice to start because the crowd was able to sing along very easily to the “Ooohs” in the song. After “Medicine Man,” the group immediately launched into their next song, “We Intertwined,” followed by “As You Cry,” “Molasses,” and “Sweet Tangerine.” Each of these energy filled songs showed that this usually more quiet and laid back group could rock just as much as anybody else on the bill.

The real gem of their set was the unexpected “Lion’s Roar,” in which vocalist/keyboardist Greta Salpeter humorously sang the trumpet part. Toward the end of this song, after vocalist/guitarist Bob Morris yelled “stop!” the group again added some humor to their song in which they froze in their spots before building back up to their original tempo. They closed with their singles, “Wine Red” and “Honey.” The only flaw in their near perfect performance was that the group completely neglected to play anything off their first album So Sudden.
Minnesota quintet, Motion City Soundtrack, followed the Hush Sound and delivered the best performance of the night. Motion City Soundtrack had the entire package: an energetic set, a good mix of old and new songs, witty stage banter, great instrumental skills and flawless vocal delivery. They started out with “My Favorite Accident” and vocalist/guitarist Justin Pierre seemed mildly surprised with how well the crowd knew the song.

As the show went on, he pushed the crowd more and more to sing out. It is hard to pick the best song of their set because everything sounded great and the crowd seemed to love them all. I hoped that they would play one of their songs like they do on their 2008 Acoustic EP, but my personal preference hardly counts as a criticism of a perfect set. Closing song “The Future Freaks Me Out” got the crowd dancing and wanting more. If you have the chance to catch this band play a full set as a headliner, take it. Their energetic pop set laced with the unique sound of the moog is not something you want to miss.

Headliners Panic! at the Disco had a tough bill to follow up on. In the past, their live show has not always been that consistent and I’ve often seen theatrics overpower musicianship. However, in an effort to be green, Panic! at the Disco left their theatrics in the past and played in an open, stripped down set with flowers as their primary decoration. I am not sure if it was the modest set, the new style of their music or simply practice, but Panic! at the Disco had drastically improved from the last time they were in Kansas City.

They opened their set just as new album Pretty. Odd opens, with “We’re So Starving” and “Nine in the Afternoon.” The entire time they were performing, different images appeared on a screen behind them, but the guys were so dynamic in their movements that few paid attention to the screen. Panic! at the Disco’s set was a good balance between their two albums. To keep a consistency to the show, the old songs had been adapted to have a more raw and acoustic feeling to them. Although the new arrangements were interesting, the new songs consistently sounded better and more natural to the vocal style of singer Brendon Urie.

The biggest and most pleasant surprise of their set came during “Behind the Sea” when guitarist Ryan Ross took the vocal reins. For the songs prior to this, he had been singing harmonies, but not all of his harmonies had been in tune, so I was wary of his turn at the mike. Ross surprised me and effortlessly delivered this tune as bubbles floated around him. In contrast, the biggest disappointment of the night was “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies,” an single from their debut album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. This song was changed so much that it was nearly unrecognizable. Panic! at the Disco closed their set with the slower number “Northern Downpour,” which had people putting cellphones in the air and swaying along. They followed this with a strong encore performance, leaving the crowd content at what was a surprisingly good show with a great line up.

Tickets are still available for some dates on the Honda Civic Tour. If you are planning on going and you are a fan of Phantom Planet, then stick around for about an hour after the show. Rumor has it you can catch a special acoustic set from them.

Phantom Planet: website | Raise The Dead review
The Hush Sound: website|myspace| Goodbye Blues review
Motion City Soundtrack: website|myspace| 2008 Acoustic EP review
Panic! at the Disco: website|Myspace| Pretty. Odd. review

* by Bethany
** All Photos taken by Joshua

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