Sometimes it’s fun to look back and wonder when exactly it was that you started being you. Is it vain to say that I sometimes go through my instagram page and look at all the hairstyles I’ve had, and remember how each one of them framed my life? As someone who changes their hair in some way approximately every six months, I’m constantly trying to at least partially re-invent myself.
Of course, as human beings it’s difficult to make a conscious choice to directly change parts of your personality or how you act, but there are choices you can make, however, that helps shapes these things for you.
Like deciding to beg and convince your mum to buy you a concert ticket.
As a thirteen-year-old with no source of income of her own except for the bank of mum and dad, I can remember how I shyly I broached the subject. I wanted thirty whole pounds to be spent on me, and of course I’d need a chaperone, so there goes another thirty too. Fast forward to Reading Festival last year, when I spent £200 for a weekend ticket when the only band that I liked when I purchased the ticket, was The 1975.
But there I was, February 3rd, 2014. Thirteen years old. Dressed in American flag shorts, a batman t-shirt– could you believe this outfit took a council of three to create? I had desperately called on the expertise of my sister, who knew what to wear to gigs because she had seen the Sugababes, but had no interest in coming with me to see Panic! Mostly because she was four years older than me and had firmly left her emo phase behind.
The album was Vices and Virtues, so the whole stage kitted out with a steampunk aesthetic. A piano was hidden behind a pulpit, from which Brendon Urie stood behind and called out God for something or another, and then later told us with playful disdain, how I Write Sins not Tragedies was his mum’s ringtone. At the end of the night, he did a backflip off of the drum set (a trick that, having seen three times, never gets old) I was sitting on the top balcony, as close as I could get, but every time Brendon spoke, it was like we were the only two in the room.
For all my fantastic memory, I’ve never remembered a band setlist in my life. I know that they were supported by a band called ME, who handed out free song downloads, and by a band called BIGKids– who all wore burger king crowns and had a saxophone player. But the set-list eludes me. The setlist from when I saw them play at Alexandra Palace in April last year eludes me.
But this was certainly a gig that changed me. As I wrote in Void if Cut or Removed, live music is like a spiritual experience for me. Being a crowd and watching my favourite band perform goes into my chest and lifts my soul to the point where I don’t really connect with reality anymore. I could liken it to being drunk and the sensation of being underwater, but that feels too crude. It’s as though I am lifted, and though my body sort of goes numb it’s as though the world is infinite and rather than people, I am surrounded by possibility.
So, I’m not in any rush to forget that. As people say, with a wink and a nudge, you never forget your first time. I can credit a lot of my concert-going habits to Panic! At the Disco. Such as how I prefer small venues– like the O2 Brixton Academy– to arena concerts. It told me how much money to bring to buy the best merch. This gig is how I know to not take a bag and keep jackets to a minimum, no matter how cold it is outside.
Even as I write this, I’m sitting in the XXL hoodie that I bought all those years ago. At the time, it was purchased because my cousin was so desperately cold, and we wanted to be warm, but I may consider it to be one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. Five years on, the sleeves are wearing through and tearing away, and the yellow lettering is not quite a vibrant as it used to be.
But unlike my hoodie, Panic! At the Disco is not losing its potency. Having released Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die and Death of a Bachelor in the past five years, despite losing drummer Spencer Smith, the band soldiers on. Having seen them at both Reading Festival in 2015 (where they joked that Bohemian Rhapsody was a little something they wrote backstage in ten minutes) and at Alexandra Palace (where a prominent rainbow featured during Girls/Girls/Boys), I know that I’m not going to lose interest in their music anytime soon. If anything, these performances have only gotten better over time.
But you can bet the next time Panic! At the Disco come to the UK, I’m going to be there. I may be a poor student, and it may take selling my kidney to afford a ticket, but nothing is going to keep me from that crowd.