For Arizona, opening for Panic! at the Disco is like coming full circle

Arizona, a new Jersey-based trio of songwriters and producers, is opening for Panic! at the Disco.
Arizona, a new Jersey-based trio of songwriters and producers, is opening for Panic! at the Disco.

Where there’s panic, there’s hope. That’s at least the case with Panic! at the Disco.

When Arizona vocalist Zachary Charles was coming of age during the last decade, he discovered a relatively unknown band, Panic! at the Disco, who proved to be an inspiration personally and professionally.

Charles caught the fledgling band in 2005 at a small New Jersey club opening for Augustana and Acceptance.

“There were about 500 people and nobody knew who Panic! at the Disco was at the time, except a few people like me,” Charles recalls. “I was blown away by them. They made such an impact.”

Fast forward 13 years, and Charles is fronting the first band on a bill featuring three recording artists and Panic! At the Disco as the headliner.

“It’s crazy,” Charles says while calling from New York. “I never would have dreamed back then that I would be in a band on tour with Panic! At the Disco. But when I saw them, I thought in the back of my head, ‘Maybe I can do this.’ And I’m in a band that’s getting there. In some ways it’s like how it was back in the day because when we’re finished with our set, I’ll come back around to watch Panic! At the Disco. There’s no band quite like them.”

Panic! at the Disco, who will perform July 28 at Raleigh’s PNC Arena, is one of the most significant acts to emerge from the emo era. The band’s passionate, urgent and at times humorous pop-rock put them on the map.

The group has been a sonic contradiction. Panic! At the Disco has often been verbose but direct as a punch to the gut musically. Lead singer Brendon Urie belts out songs that may contain as many words as an Eminem track. The titles of some songs are Fiona Apple-unwieldy (“There’s a Good Reason These Tables are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven’t Thought of it Yet” is a cut from the debut album).

“But it works for Panic! At the Disco,” Charles says. “I got it from the first album on. There is wit, power and energy in everything they do.”

Panic! has crafted a number of anthems, such as the “I Write Sins, not Tragedies” from the band’s debut.

“That song still has such an effect on fans,” Charles says. “It still holds up.”

Panic! at the Disco is propped up by Urie. His original bandmates, each schoolmates, have left the band. “The lineup is different but the energy is somehow the same,” Charles says. “It’s still an amazing show and I love experiencing those amazing Panic! At the Disco songs. Nobody sounds like them.”

That continues to be the case for “Pray for the Wicked,” which is essentially a Urie solo album, released under the Panic! At the Disco name. The album, which was released in June, features songs that are stylish, dramatic and often bombastic. But the latter is what Urie does well. Urie is at his most effective when he’s over the top.

“That’s fine since Brendon is one of the last rock stars,” Charles says. “It’s a nice change from boring singers. It’s about having fun with your songs and your live performance.”

Arizona, which formed in Boston but is based in New Jersey, is touring behind its debut release, “Gallery,” which is comprised of atmospheric and introspective electro-pop. The band also includes Nathan Esquite and David Labuguen

“It’s a good start for us,” Charles says. “It enabled us to get on this tour where every night, just like the fans, we’re watching Panic! at the Disco.”


Who: Panic! At the Disco with A R I Z O N A and Hayley Kiyoko

When: 7 p.m. July 28

Where: PNC Arena, 1400 Edwards Mill Road, Raleigh.

Cost: $46.75 and up.

Info: 919-865-1510, thepncarena.com