Nineteen years since its formation, the band Panic! at the Disco officially disbanded on Jan. 24, according to the band’s Instagram. The group endured many changes throughout nearly two decades, including exhausting the entire gamut of pop subgenres from baroque to power pop and losing nearly all of its original members — except for frontman Brendon Urie, of course.
But despite its widespread fame, veteran listeners are less than surprised about the news.
Panic! at the Disco proved a staple for many young alt kids’ edgy coming-of-age arc, namely with its earlier albums: A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out released in 2005, Pretty. Odd. released in 2008, Vices & Virtues released in 2011 and Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! released in 2013. These albums were released when Panic! was still considered a band and not the lucrative solo project of Urie and his rotating cast of touring musicians.
The first instance of fans grieving the band started in 2009 when then-guitarist and vocalist Ryan Ross and bassist Jon Walker left after the release of Pretty. Odd., which Ross had significant influence on both the writing and sound of.
Slowly but surely, more members would dwindle, with bassist Dallon Weekes and drummer Spencer Smith following suit over the course of the next eight years. Many of them cited the lack of ability to contribute to the creative process as their reason for leaving.
In 2015, Weekes returned to being a touring-only member of Panic!, leaving Urie as the sole official member of the band. Panic!’s first album after that, 2016’s Death of a Bachelor, is often identified by fans as the beginning of the end, nearly seven years before the official breakup.
Willow Houck, a senior astronomy major at the University of Maryland, attributes her entire emo awakening to Panic!. She had been an avid fan since middle school and was a dedicated follower, even seeing Urie in his brief Broadway run in Kinky Boots in 2017. She remembers distinctly when the band started to go downhill.
“Once the singles for Pray for the Wicked were being dropped, around that time, I had basically taken Death of a Bachelor as the conclusion of Panic! remotely as I knew it,” she said. “I think that would have been a good story for the band.”
Urie’s last two releases, Pray for the Wicked from 2018 and Viva Las Vengeance from 2022 were classified by critics as chart-topping, power pop hits — but to longtime listeners, they were bleak reminders of what used to be of their favorite emo band.
“I haven’t honestly listened to anything besides the ones on the radio from the new albums, just because I felt like it was so different,” said Kayla Kellner, a junior human development and psychology major. “With the band members leaving, the culture disappeared from Panic! at the Disco.”
Some Panic! purists yearned for Urie’s reign to end after Ross and Walker’s departure. Junior English major Von Wampler said she believed the band started to falter after its sophomore release.
Many questioned why Urie would bother continuing a solo career under the Panic! at the Disco moniker at all, as their older music was wildly different from the band’s more recent work post-schism. For some, though, the answer was quite clear.
“He’s just stupid,” information systems graduate student Quinn Dang said. “He’s said before is that he just liked the name and didn’t see a reason to change it.”
Regardless of reasoning, Wampler believes the choice was a selfish one.
“It was never his project. It really seemed like it was mostly Ryan and, I guess later on Jon doing the writing [pre-schism], so it seemed weird to take something someone else built and make really shitty music with it,” they said.
In addition to the genre shift, fans cited questionable behavior from Urie as reasoning for falling off of the Panic! bandwagon.
With more than 15 years in the public eye, Urie has been caught saying less than savory things, and after the band’s official breakup post, followers discovered former bassist Weekes edited some of his old Instagram captions from when he was in the band, revealing his and Urie’s relationship may not have been as good as they had led on.
One post on Weekes’ Instagram from April 2015 shows an injury from an airsoft gun that Urie allegedly inflicted on him during a concert.
The post is now captioned “#tbt to when I got shot with an airsoft gun on stage in the middle of playing a song and I had to pretend it was funny so that I could keep my job.” The post was edited 39 weeks ago.
“That doesn’t surprise me. I think the worst part about it is the fact that the core fan base, the ones that made him popular, aren’t the same people who are hyping him up now,” senior English major Melanie Hunt said. “The people who are keeping him alive now are justifying the things that he does.”
Given the tumultuous history of the band, its demise was expected sooner or later. Even still, after multiple offensive top 40s hits and enough minor controversy to last one man the rest of his life, the end is bittersweet for some.
“This is really a victory for 15-year-old me,” Wampler said. “But at what cost? We lost so many along the way.”
And for others, such as Dang, it’s a weight lifted off their shoulders.
“It’s long overdue. I’m glad that it’s over,” Dang said.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story’s photo caption misspelled Brendon Urie’s name. The caption has been updated.