The Rock Band Live tour hit New Jersey Sunday with a versatile line-up and even more diverse crowd. From the tween girls screaming, “I love you Brendon!” at Panic at the Disco’s frontman Brendon Urie to the inebriated 21+ group jumping and dancing along during Dashboard Confessional’s set, the night offered something for everyone.
Panic at the Disco, the obvious crowd favorites, closed the night at the Prudential Center in Newark with an hour-long set energizing all in the audience. Taking the stage with their signature song, “We’re So Starving,” Urie crooned to the audience, “Oh, how it's been so long/We're so sorry we've been gone/We were busy writing songs for you.” The audience accepted his apology wholeheartedly — throwing their hands in the air and singing along word for word.
Panic’s 13-song set consisted of radio hits, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” “Lying Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off,” and “Nine In the Afternoon.” Whether Urie was running from one side of the stage to the other singing to the crowd or alternating between playing guitar, piano and drums he kept the audience on their feet with the help of his bandmates. Closing the show with Little Richard's "You Make Me Wanna Shout," Panic at the Disco had the crowd feeding off their performance and energy until well after the lights came back on, signaling that the long-awaited Jersey stop was officially over.
Co-headliner Dashboard Confessional took the stage before Panic, frontman Chris Carrabba wooing the crowd with his onstage banter and heartfelt lyrics. Playing hits like "Vindicated," "Thick as Thieves," and "Screaming Infidelities," which he prefaced with a question. "Should we do a love song? Like, an 'I hate my ex' kind of song?" to which screams erupted throughout the venue. "Mike hates her too. She's both our exes." Then Carrabba began the song alone on piano before the rest of the band joined in.
Possible favorites of Dashboard's set seemed to be a tie between infamous hit, "Hands Down" and a surprising cover of Pink's current radio hit, "So What." Previous performers the Cab re-entered the stage and helped out on their rendition of Pink's song. The energy in the room skyrocketed and it's quite impressive the way Carrabba hit the high notes.
What differentiates the Rock Band Live tour from your typical concert is that in between each performer's set change the crowd gets involved playing "Rock Band" instead of just sitting or standing awaiting the next band to take the stage. Between the Plain White T's and Dashboard's set Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle" and Red Hot Chili Pepper's "Give It Away" were played, amping the audience for the next band taking the stage.
Plain White T's played an eight-song set of their fan favorites including their Grammy-nominated hit "Hey There Delilah" as well as "Our Time Now" and newest singles "Natural Disaster" and "1, 2, 3, 4" off of their latest release, Big Bad World. Their set was the most laid-back of the night and they had the audience waving their cell phones and lighters in the air for "1, 2, 3, 4." As their set closed, frontman Tom Higgenson jumped into the crowd hugging fans and shaking hands throughout the venue while the rest of the band members exited the stage. Not your typical gesture, fans positioned in the front of the arena got a very personal concert experience and walked away from a night they will most likely never forget.
Las Vegas-based band The Cab and New York natives Lights Resolve began the night with a half-hour set each. Definitely a lively set from both bands, whether jumping around the stage and having the crowd bounce to their song — aptly titled "Bounce" (in the Cab's case) or wowing the audience with their signature "wuh-uh-uh-oh-uh-oh-oh" and catchy choruses (Lights Resolve) both bands show much promise. And, who knows, in a few years they might be co-headlining the tour together.
Check out more of Wendy Hu's amazing photos from Sunday night here.