Panic! at the Disco
|Name(s):||Panic! at the Disco,
briefly Panic at the Disco
|Scope/Focus:||Core band in Bandom|
|See also:||Fall Out Boy,The Academy Is...|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Panic! at the Disco, often abbreviated Panic!, is a pop/alternative rock band formed in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2004.
As the first band signed to Pete Wentz's label Decaydance, Panic! is one of the core Bandom bands, and the subject of a significant amount of fanfiction. Panic! has been the solo project of Brendon Urie, the band's only remaining founding member, since 2015. Its former lineups changed significantly over the years, and included former members and colleagues of The Academy Is... and The Cab.
The band's history is "kind of mythological," likely due to its partial fictionalization, the band's fairly rapid rise to fame, and the seemingly random involvement of Pete Wentz. These stories are "probably transmitted through fanfiction" - and fans have noted that they resemble fanfiction . Some of these events may be entirely fictional -"Most everyone at a certain level of involvement with Panic knows these things and no one can remember exactly how they learned them"  - and not all details can be verified.
Panic! at the Disco was initially a Blink-182 cover band called Pet Salamander , composed of childhood friends Ryan Ross (guitar/vocals) and Spencer Smith (drums). Ross and Smith were later joined by Brent Wilson (bass). "At some rather indefinite point," after Trevor (guitar) joined, Pet Salamander "morphed into a band called The Summer League." The band became Panic! at the Disco "when Trevor left" and Brendon Urie (guitar/lead vocals) "auditioned as a second guitar player and then took over lead vocals" . The band rehearsed in Smith's grandmother's living room .
Ross' voice is (typically affectionately) described in fanfiction as "shitty," which Ross agreed with in an interview . According to most fan narratives, Ross decided that Urie would take over lead vocals after hearing him sing. Urie had reportedly sung in choir(s) previously, along with instruction in multiple musical instruments. According to fandom narratives, he was either too shy to request to sing instead of Ross, or genuinely unaware of his musical ability.
The band found other local bands bland, which "influenced them to be different and creative" . (Note that the link in this claim's citation is broken, so its verifiability is uncertain). The band recorded "experimental" demos , Ross sent them to Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy via comments on Wentz's LiveJournal page, and Wentz visited the band in Las Vegas to listen to them perform. Fan narratives typically have Ross conceal his correspondence with Wentz until his visit is confirmed, and some of the band members unable to meet Wentz due to prior commitments. Wentz signed the band to Decaydance despite their lack of experience performing.
Fan narratives emphasize family drama during the band's early stages. Urie is typically on extremely bad terms with his family in this period, and for some time after. He is kicked out of his family's house, which is usually attributed to his family's devout Mormonism and Urie's experimentation with weed - or, in slash fiction, because Urie comes out or is outed to his family. Urie lives in an apartment by himself, works at a fast-food establishment typically called 'Smoothie Hut,' and struggles with finishing high school, often dropping out. Ross' father is typically characterized as an alcoholic, which has some basis in true events, as neglectful, and as physically (and often emotionally) abusive, which is not verifiable. His mother left when Ross was young, which is also difficult to verify. Ross did drop out of college after his first year, and have a subsequent falling out with his father .
First album and "Fever era"
The band's first album, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, was recorded in Maryland. It was released on September 27, 2005 . The album, which "has been described as pop punk, emo, emo pop, electropunk, dance-punk, baroque pop, and alternative rock," is "split in two stylistically" with "electronic" instruments on the "dance-infused" first half and "more straightforward rock tracks" on the second half , separated by an intermission/interlude.
The band's first album, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, was released September 2005. It was intentionally different from any other music in the Las Vegas scene, and featured elements of pop-punk, Vaudeville, and electronic dance music. Notably, bassist Brent Wilson did not perform on any of the tracks; bass was covered by Brendon Urie. Although the album did not debut to any great plaudits, within a year they were headlining tours of their own.
After being signed, they went on their first tour, "Ambitious Ones and Smoking Guns", with The Academy is..., which continued on to "Truckstops and Statelines" with The Academy Is..., Hellogoodbye, and Acceptance. This is also when they met future member Jon Walker, who was a guitar tech for The Academy is... at the time. Jon would officially join the band in May of 2006, following the departure of Brent Wilson. It is a subject of some debate how friendly of a departure this was, though it seems to be generally agreed upon that it was not particularly planned or congenial.
Cricket and Clover/"Cabin Fic"
After Jon's addition to the band, they took a short break from non-stop touring to come up with ideas for their next album. They then proceeded to retire to a cabin in the mountains of Nevada for several months. Their isolation, combined with the drugs they were doing, reportedly led to them going a little crazy and being unproductive. Cricket & Clover, the album they developed in the cabin but proceeded to scrap, is the subject of wild fan speculation: see Cabin Fic
Post-Cabin, the band scrapped all of Crickets and Clover and began working on Pretty. Odd., the band's second album. The album features many references to the sun and moon, and is occasionally referred to by fans as "The Gay Album." It debuted March 2008. In this era, the band also dropped the exclamation point from their name, becoming Panic at the Disco. The album also represented a major change stylistically from Fever, featuring a much more acoustic and Beatles-inspired sound. It did not perform as well commercially as their previous album. They also released a live album, ...Live in Chicago in this time frame, which features both live recordings and alternate versions of select songs.
In June of 2009, the band split. Fans often refer to this as "the divorce." Urie and Smith remained in Panic! at the Disco, while Ross and Walker left and formed The Young Veins with Andy Soukal, Nick Murray, and Nick White. The split was reportedly amicable, with both halves of the band wanting to go different directions stylistically. This is not reflected by most fan content, which typically represents the split as a bitter temporary or permanent fracturing of intense intra-band friendships and/or romantic relationships. Their first song without Ryan and Jon was New Perspective, recorded for the movie Jennifer's Body. It represented yet another change in the band's style, from retro acoustic to more polished steampunk-ish pop. Despite disbanding and eventually leaving the public eye, Ryan and Jon remain popular in some sections of the fandom.
Vices and Virtues
The band's third album, Vices and Virtues was released in March of 2011. "Vices" was the first album the band released that was not primarily written by Ross. Fan content often represents it as being written by Urie, or Urie and Smith, but Wentz had a significant role in its writing. Despite now being a two-piece band, their live shows became more theatrical, similarly to those during the Fever era. They also introduced touring members Ian Crawford (guitar, formerly of The Cab) and Dallon Weekes (bass) during this time. Weekes' band, The Brobecks, toured with Panic! at the Disco before Weekes joined Panic!. The album also does not have a lot of stylistic cohesion, with many songs having completely different genres and codas which do not mesh with the rest of the song. Fans have often interpreted the album as being almost entirely about a possible break-up with Ryan Ross, or more generally about the break-up of the band.
"Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die" and transition to solo project
The band's fourth album, "Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die," was released in October of 2013. This album was the last to feature Smith on drums, as he left the tour to "continue fighting [his] addiction" to alcohol and prescription medications . Crawford left the band on bad terms , and was replaced by Kenneth Harris. In 2015, Panic!'s current lineup of Urie plus touring members was solidified. Smith formally left the band, Urie released the first singles from the band's upcoming album, and Weekes confirmed that he was "not contributing creatively [to Panic!] anymore."
The band's fifth album, "Death of a Bachelor," was released in January of 2016, as a follow-up to Panic!'s previous album. It was the first album not to feature Smith on drums, and follows Weekes' demotion to a touring member.
The band's sixth and most recent album, "Pray for the Wicked," was released in June 2018. In September 2018, Harris was "dismissed following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct involving underage fans" , which Urie called "a personal matter" in his tweet announcing Harris' dismissal .
Multiple allegations of sexual assault and inappropriate and offensive behaviour have been made against Urie. Zack Hall and Kenneth Harris have also been the subjects of similar allegations.
2020 allegations against Urie and Hall
Two fans, who were underage at the time the events took place, have alleged that Urie sexually harassed and assaulted them, and was aware that they were underage  . An article from The Daily Dot, "Brendon Urie accused of sexual harassment, pedophilia," is one of few, if not the only, coverage to use that term .
Allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct have also been made against Zack Cloud Hall in 2020, starting before the underage fans' allegations against Urie were made. Hall "has worked with Panic! since the early 2000s" and has been "a seeming gateway to all things Panic!". Allegations against Hall came after posts by Weekes. Weekes discussed Hall's actions when Weekes was in Panic!, calling them "abusive behaviour" which Hall "dismissed as 'jokes'" and saying that they "got worse" when Weekes "stopped 'playing along'". After Weekes' posts, "several fans [began] digging into Hall’s questionable history and calling for his removal from the team"  . In addition/response to fan testimony of harassment from Hall, Weekes' wife Breezy shared that she was "subjected to" sexual harassment by Hall when Weekes was in Panic!, and that she only tolerated it "so that Dallon [Weekes] could keep his job" .
Urie has also been the cause of repeated controversy prior to the 2020 allegations. "With the rise of the new allegations, Urie's history of racist, sexist, and ableist actions, in addition to other times in which he touched someone without their consent, have come back to light" . The 2020 allegations resulted in discussion of Urie's sexually inappropriate and/or aggressive actions, and other offensive behaviour. A frequently-cited thread by a now-suspended Twitter user includes sourced claims of Urie's "'slut-shaming women,' 'fetishizing bisexuality'," "slamming homosexuality," "fat shaming," and "engaging in transphobia and ableism"  .
Urie's past controversies also includes his "allegedly admitting to repeatedly sexually assaulting" (or "sexually harassing" , worded differently by a different source with similar content in the article) "former P!ATD member Ryan Ross" .
Urie was also accused of using drugs to sexually assault an ex-girlfriend, although she rescinded the allegations after harassment from Panic! fans. This incident is not widely known, and appears to have been absent from the 2020 discussion of Urie's actions. However, it was (less prominently) spread by beachdeath, a prominent Tumblr user and founder of The Niche, in response to news of Urie's collaboration with Taylor Swift years before.
Kenneth Harris was dismissed from the band following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct involving underage fans.
Fan responses to controversy
Fan discourse and online campaigns
Fan responses to the 2020 allegations, and the discussion of Urie's past actions, have been mixed. It appears that bandom opinion has mostly turned against Urie, but that is difficult to ascertain.
The allegations against Hall were met with fan campaigns for Urie to "speak up"  and for Hall to be fired. They included the Twitter hashtags #firezackhall and #brendonuriespeakup, the Twitter account @firezackhall (since deactivated) , Carrds  , and a petition .
Allegations against Urie, and the rediscovery and discussion of his history of inappropriate and offensive behaviour, resulted in Urie's fall from some fans' favour, and the Twitter hashtag #BrendonUrieIsOverParty . (That hashtag had been previously used for other Urie-related controversies, but this specific instance is worth noting.)
Other fans have attempted to discredit the allegations against Urie. This includes the Twitter hashtag #WeStandWithBrendonUrie  - and the conclusion by the Meaww article's writer that Urie is innocent. A small handful of other fans accused the alleged victims of falsifying their claims, claiming that Urie's accuser(s)' stories were similar to certain Panic! fanfiction(s), that the show(s) the accuser(s) attended were in fact 18+, and that the accuser(s)' Twitter accounts seemed false and too similar to each other, and were only established to make false claims and subject Urie to controversy. In "one Reddit thread" relating to the allegations, "many users defend[ed] the singer, saying his behavior has been taken too seriously" .
Fan production of Panic! fanfiction on Ao3 is significantly slower than it was during Panic!'s bandom heyday and its early 2010s revival. Not enough Panic! fanfiction is being produced to analyze the impact of the allegations on Urie's bandom presence. However, some recent Ryden fanfictions have been edited after their writers became aware of the 2020 allegations, to feature disclaimers that the author condones Urie's actions.
Bandom fans on Tumblr have exhibited a strong, but not universal, tendency to couple their renouncement of Urie with support and appreciation of Ross. Fans emphasize Ross' contributions to Panic!'s early lyrics, aesthetics, and sound, and mock Urie both for his actions and for what is presented as a degradation of Panic!'s artistic merit into grating commercialized pop.
Urie's attempts to kiss Ross onstage elicited mainly positive responses in bandom, up until fairly recent quotes from Urie caused those instances of "stage gay" to be reconsidered in the context of sexual assault and harassment. Some fans condemned Urie then, but not as emphatically as is common now.
- Brendon Urie – lead vocals, guitar, bass, piano, keyboards (2004–present)
- Brent Wilson – bass (2004–2006)
- Ryan Ross – lead guitar, vocals, keyboards (2004–2009)
- Jon Walker – bass, guitar, backing vocals, keyboards, bells (2006–2009)
- Spencer Smith – drums, percussion (2004–2015)
- Dallon Weekes - bass, backing vocals (2010-2015)
- Eric Ronick – keyboards, backing vocals (2006–2008)
- Bartram Nason – cello, keyboard, electric drums (2006)
- Ian Crawford – lead guitar, backing vocals (2009-2012)
- Dallon Weekes - bass, backing vocals (2009-2010, 2015-2017)
- Kenneth Harris – lead guitar, backing vocals (2013–2018)
- Dan Pawlovich – drums, percussion (2013–present)
- Nicole Row - bass, backing vocals (2018-present)
- Mike Naran - guitar, backing vocals (2018-present)
Panic! pairings are most often slash, focusing on combinations of Panic!'s second lineup (Urie, Ross, Smith, and Walker).
Brendon/Spencer is also popular, and increased in popularity and intensity after the band's "divorce." Brendon/Dallon, or "Brallon," is somewhat popular, likely due to Weekes' comparatively long stay in the band and some "stage gay" with Urie.
Spencer/Jon is a relatively common side pairing in Ryden fanfictions. As a main pairing, it is not very popular, and works focusing on "Joncer" tend to be shorter and less serious. Sarah Urie, nee Orzechowski, is occasionally shipped with Brendon Urie. Due to bandom's strong interest in "bandslash," Past Sarah/Brendon, or a Sarah/Brendon breakup, is more likely. Panic! members are occasionally shipped with members of other bands, typically from the Fueled By Ramen/Decaydance part of bandom. Pete/Ryan is a good example of this.
Characterization and Tropes
Themes and Tropes
- High School AUs are quite popular, likely because Panic!'s members knew each other at that age and Ross and Smith went to school together.
There are also several college AUs.
- High school AUs often address members' relationships with their families, focusing on Ross and Urie. Common elements include abusive/neglectful/alcoholic parents (Ross), religious and homophobic family (Urie), getting kicked out/disowned (Urie), occasional support from supportive friends' families (typically Smith's mother Ginger), and bullying. Wilson is frequently a minor character.
- Coffee shop AUs are common, in which Jon works as a barista at Starbucks and Brendon at Smoothie Hut, since both of them actually held those jobs in the past.
- Cabin fic refers to stories set during the time the band went and locked themselves away in a cabin in the woods to (try to) write an album. These stories often involve a significant amount of drug use.
- Quite often real pets are mentioned in fic - it seems to be a lot more common in bandom than in some other fandoms, possibly because so many of them talk about how awesome their dogs are in interviews and on Twitter.
- Examples include Ryan's dog Hobo and Jon's cat Dylan
- Divorce fic deals with the aftermath of the split between Brendon&Spencer and Jon&Ryan, either as fix-it fic in which they reconcile, or as a subject of angst.
- panic at the disco by Reuccia
- PANIC At The Disco by Bang-The-Doldrums
- Panic by catdragongrl
- Panic: At the Disco by r-ingo
- The history of the band has been recorded perhaps best in wearemany's Give me more. Though highly fictionalized, the story uses a significant amount of research and actual history. (Brendon/Ryan, 2007)
- Fullcollapse (LJ, formerly nepenthe_) wrote a 200,000+ word Brendon/Ryan High School AU, during 2006/2007 called Infinite, Sometimes.
- Guernica. (a blind Brendon/artist Ryan AU, 2008-?)
- Two Vatos Locos Full of Carnalismo and Inamoratos by wellthisisprettyrisque is a dark Soulmate AU story where soulmates dream together. (Brendon/Ryan, 2015-2016)
- Sunsetmog wrote many popular fics: e.g. If Music Be The Food Of Love (I'll Have The Veggie Burger) (High school AU), Here at the right time, Thereafter you have it (kidfic), You can sit beside me (High school AU)
- LittleMousling (AO3)
- Milk (aka The Milk Fic) is an infamous kink/shockfic. (Brendon/Ryan, 2011)
- The Heart Rate of a Mouse, sometimes known as THROAM, is a three-volume fic detailing the complex and intricate relationship of Ryan Ross and Brendon (Roscoe) Urie in the 1970s. Written by Anna Green 2009-2011. Currently in the process of being transformed into an original work. Can be found on LiveJournal or Ao3
- Panic! at the Disco Updated Primer & Picspam, part 1 by Roga on dreamwidth (2010-11-08)
- Panic! Primer by Flimsy on livejournal (2007-07-24)
- Panic fanworks at the Archive of Our Own
- Panic! at the Disco at FanFiction.net
- panicatthedisco tag at Wattpad
- Panic podfics at the Audiofic Archive
- Tumblr Tags: Panic! at the Disco, p!atd
- These claims will not be linked to, due to ethical concerns.
- on AO3, with three times as many Brendon/Ryan works (3364) as the next most popular pairing, Brendon/Spencer (1168) works. (Counts retrieved 11 September 2018)
- Examples of Panic! GSF include rossetti's Existing Unknowing. 27 January 2008. (Accessed 1 February 2011.) AU example: queensheep's Golden Apples. 23 September 2008. (Accessed 2 April 2012.) More examples: stepps's Masterlist: Panic Group Sex Fic. Last updated: 16 August 2010. (Accessed 2 April 2012.)
- See, for example, wearemany's The Mirror Stage. 18 May 2008. (Accessed 1 February 2011.)