The Panics are often given the thumbs-up as being the soundtrack of Australian lives. The sweet, harmonious keyboard notes could easily be the backing track for love and life.
As husky frontman Jae Laffer said at the show when spruiking Don’t Fight it, “It’s been played on Home and Away like fifteen times.” The Summer Bay jukebox success story conveys their clean-cut Australian image. No red wine stained teeth for this band; they’re straight edge with bottles of water.
With this in mind, it is no wonder that as I stood mingling with a crowd sporting old man spectacles, and more interestingly a guy who looked like the love child of Ron Weasley and Dandy Warhol; that I overheard a group of girls having a loud and public chat about their love life and current relationship problems:
“I just don’t know if we should stay together.”
A female friend nodded encouragingly, “I felt the same way about James and I.”
The Panics are like a support group for the crowd of twenty-somethings, it is the music played in a house during a breakup or dinner party. It is background music to fill the void. Yet, when the Panics eventually took the stage bathed in blue lights it became evident that this praise is a bit of a conundrum when it comes to live shows.
Without any introductions and only a shy smile The Panics played the new track One Way Street from their new album Rain on a Humming Wire. The crowd clapped politely but the atmosphere remained flat and smoky. As the show progressed the audience warmed up, clearly enjoying the familiar songs such as Feeling is Gone and Get us Home from their 2008 album Cruel Guards. During these songs the audience are involved in a group-swaying session, with couples nestling closer together and people singing along to their favourite Panics songs. However it is hard to separate the songs as one song is merged into the next, there is little friendly banter or talk from The Panics to break up the songs.
The emotions in the songs are heart-felt and the keyboard riffs are soothing but it’s just background music. It is hard to believe that this is the main band of the night when everyone looks so weary. It feels like a Saturday morning on the couch watching Channel 31’s Ten Pin Bowling show rather than a Friday night in the city.
There was of course the token band groupie, a guy in black losing his shit while fist-pumping to The Panics. My boyfriend and I agreed that this guy should have been nominated the leader of The Panics’ cheer squad.
Things got a bit more exciting when Jae Laffer broke into an extended keyboard instrumental for “Creaks” which got the crowd on their feet and clapping along. The Panics played a selection of songs from their four albums during the night, playing some of their older songs such as My Best Mistake, Kid You’re a dreamer and Sleeps like a Curse. For the long-time fans these oldies were absolute bliss.
Although the crowd got passionate during a few songs I was genuinely surprised that the audience turned into a state of epileptic frenzy when demanding an encore.
The Panics returned to play an encore of one song, an acoustic song and solo performance from Jae Laffer. The show went for about an hour.
First published on The Enthusiast