patd.jpgWhat happened to Panic(!) at the Disco?
It wasn't very long last year? Panic! at the Disco was an over-stylized, super-popular circus/emo band who, believe it or not, had some pretty great songs under their young white belts. Not satisfied with their remarkable success, however, they decided to take things in a completely different direction in 2008. The exclamation point and the Moulin Rouge antics have been dropped, and their new record sounds more like a dumbed down, Walrus-era Beatles knockoff than Fever 2.0. But while the sound had changed, the set design at Roseland this week was the capper. Pseudo-psychedelic paper cut video backdrops, foliage crawling up the mic stands and untucked oxford cloth shirts and vests. This was no longer the same band -- in fact, it's hard to even see these guys as a band, in the traditional sense; they're a performance act. Their job is not to create music people can relate to and embrace, but to put on a show. (pic via Fueled by Meghan's flickr)

Mary Jay-Z
Two New York legends came through town this week on their "Heart of the City" Tour. Jay-Z and Mary J Blige shared the stage at MSG for a three night sold out run. Mary came out first and blew through a dazzling set of hits with a gigantic band as her backdrop. She unquestionably left it all out on the stage and set the bar extremely high for Jay-Z to hurdle. Unfortunately, while the formerly-retired rapper can still get an arena going, there's a certain air of boredom to his stage presence; his wardrobe was fitting as he wore sweatpants and a t-shirt during his performance. He's comfortable, has nothing left to prove, and can rest squarely on his previous accomplishments. While even Jay on autopilot is far more entertaining than 90% of live rap performances, it just made him seem so small on the big stage, especially following someone who just made herself so larger than life. Next week Kanye's Glow in the Dark tour comes through town, which expects to raise that live hip-hop bar another dozen notches or so. Time to step your game up, Hov. Or at least lower those ticket prices.

River to River Rolls In
Yep, more free shows! The River to River lineups was posted this week, announcing all the upcoming shows at everyone's favorite FiDi hangouts. As usual, South Street and Castle Clinton will be hosting some notable indie up-and-comers with the likes of Atlas Sound, Place to Bury Strangers, St. Vincent and the Long Winters all taking their stages throughout the summer. Perhaps even more interesting however is the lineup of remarkable downtempo electronic acts at the World Financial Center; Ulrich Schnauss, Fennesz and Kieran Hebden of Four Tet will all hit up the Winter Garden with atmospheric after-work sets. There's much much more beyond all this. The whole lineup can be seen here, and don't forget: legends Wire kick it all off on May 30th.