MOOSIC — The Pavlion at Montage Mountain is equipped with a powerful sound system; it has to be able to reach every section of seating under the pavilion, as well as fans in the venue’s enclosed lawn section. When Panic! at the Disco singer Brendon Urie emerged from the band’s upstage video boards, that sound system was almost completely overpowered by the screams of a capacity crowd that was already four hours into their concert experience — and Panic! wasn’t even the night’s final act.
The music started at 4 p.m. when local acts Death Valley Dreams and Black Tie Stereo played on a small stage to the right of the pavilion’s main entrance. By the time opener Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness started (around 6 p.m.), a large number of patrons had already filed into the venue compared to the usual turnout for an opening act; it’d be safe to assume that had a lot to do with the early advertised start time, but the reaction of the crowd when McMahon played favorites like “Satellite” proved that there were an impressive number of fans there to see the former Jack’s Mannequin singer.
As a post-set McMahon signed autographs and took photos for a large line near the venue’s concession stands, AWOLNATION took the stage and turned the pavilion into a post-rock party. For McMahon, Panic! at the Disco and Weezer, 92.1 FM’s Fuzz Fest was another stop on their ongoing summer tour; for AWOLNATION, Fuzz Fest was a special festival date independent of any tours. The start of their set was announced with bass that shook those standing under the large white roof’s shade, while Montage Mountain’s lawn section further filled out with fans claiming spots to watch their favorite main attraction.
For 21-year-old Pittston resident Nikki Piccaletti, that main attraction was AWOLNATION. She came with her friends, 21-year-old Moosic resident Victoria Grugnale and 21-year-old Pittston resident Eric Drouse.
“They were phenomenal,” Grugnale said. “You could hear the bass in the lawn.”
“They killed it,” Drouse added.
By the time AWOLNATION finished playing their hit song “Sail,” The Pavilion at Montage Mountain was visibly full for the night’s double main event. The sea of seated concert goers stood when Panic! at the Disco’s instrumentalists took stage and erupted at the sight of Urie. The crowd reacted to almost everything the musician did — backflips, high notes, improvised swearing — with what were easily the loudest reactions of the night.
A horn section joined the band on stage for their opener, “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time,” and returned at various points throughout the set to flesh out the four-piece’s sound. Pre-recorded clips also played during almost every song on the band’s 18-part set list, helping the spot-on Urie and his band create the multi-layered sound of a Panic! album for their live audience.
After tearing through the first half of his set list (and his suit jacket and shirt), Urie rode a piano onto stage for “Nine in the Afternoon,” and returned to the ivory later in the set for a cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” “Death of a Bachelor” and “I Write Sins not Tragedies” received huge pops from the crowd, as well as their set-closer and current radio hit “Victorious,” played while “Mad Max”-inspired imagery took over the band’s video boards.
Sarah Hayday, 41, brought her daughter Sydney and her niece Madison Wester from Philadelphia for Fuzz Fest. For the most part, Wester was a fan of the performance.
“I really liked it,” Wester said. “I wish they played a couple more songs of the older stuff.”
Hayday said this is far from her first time seeing Panic!, so the band’s cover was a fun thing to see live.
“I liked when they played Queen,” Sarah said.
The night’s main event was a stark contrast to the flashy, eccentric set that came before them, but Weezer personified their garage rock roots with a slick, well-played set of curated crowd favorites that radiated personality. “California Kids,” the opener from their newly released album, also served as the opener for their set at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain.
The band then kicked right into “Hash Pipe” and “My Name Is Jonas” before pulling sure shot lead singles from their recent albums like “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” and “Pork and Beans.” The band also played a number of tracks from the white album — their stage setup itself was pulled directly from the California-inspired record’s cover, and the animated loops that played on their massive video board were visual representations of the mantra “good vibes only.”
After radio hit “Beverly Hills,” Weezer started to play “Dope Nose,” a track from the band’s album “Maladroit.” The performance became a medley that included recent single “Back to the Shack,” “Keep Fishin,” “Pinkerton” track “The Good Life” and the blue album’s “Surf Wax America.”
It was a way for the band to work a number of fan favorites into their single-heavy set list, but for those seeing Weezer for the first time, it served as a small taste of the set that could have been if the band had cut one of their less popular album singles or opted to replace one of the songs from the white album.
In the end, Weezer’s decision to stick to the hits was a smart one; they knew they were playing to a mixed crowd and pulled songs from each era of the band, which sent fans like 39-year-old Brett McAndrew and his son Eli, 11, back to their Williamsport home happy.
“It was tremendous,” Eli said. “Just the vibe of the whole concert made me feel good inside.”
“They’re talent personified,” added Brett, who also brought his daughters, 15 and 19, to the show.
The 2016 iteration of Fuzz Fest featured acts from all over the alternative radio spectrum, and each catered to their fan bases; especially Weezer, who had generations of concert attendees to please and, for the most part, did so in spades. Those longing for a set of deeper album tracks should have probably seen the band before they were big enough to play venues like The Pavilion at Montage Mountain. If they didn’t enjoy the show it’s because they didn’t buy in; if they did, they were treated to a solid set from a band that can contribute their staying power to the magnetism their bring onto stage.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts