The bleeding edge of music performance.
Everyone has had events in their life that paves an uneven road of pain and suffering. We all have apocalyptic moments when we realize we’re stronger than our inner – and outer – demons and we take back control of our lives. The need to discover ourselves and our purpose carries over a wide range of ages and types; there is no one certain age or one specific personality in which this manifests most in. When something that common and that resonant is turned into something as communicative as music, something beautiful happens. There’s been a huge blossom in this particular musical community and that seed was sown by the Las Vegas alternative rock band Imagine Dragons, who recently graced the green grassed state of North Carolina with their unmatched sound, carried by heavy appreciation and passion.
The magnificent fellows of Imagine Dragons kicked off their US tour in Charlotte at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on Tuesday night May 7th. As the first show of the tour, things were disrupted before they even began. Mere days before the scheduled performance at Time Warner Cable Arena, it was announced that due to inclement weather and failure in ability to practice at the originally scheduled location, the concert was moved to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. Just as predicted, the rainy weather failed to let up for the anticipated event but, much to the band’s expressed surprise, the theater was packed all but the lawn. Due to the dreary weather, being at Verizon on Tuesday night reminded me of my very first time at that venue, back when it was Blockbuster Pavilion. I was twelve years old and my parents had brought my sister and I to see Hanson in concert. We had lawn seats and the three brothers looked no larger than an ant to me from where I stood, but I couldn’t have been more thrilled. It rained that evening too and I have held onto that amazing memory for the past thirteen years. As I looked around me on Tuesday, I saw several flashes back to that memory of mine. The music of Imagine Dragons impresses and draws in fans of every single age. There were people older than me, people younger than me, and everything in between. I caught sight of several kids around the age of twelve and thirteen with their parents and wondered if this was their first concert too and smiled at the thought that they might remember this night thirteen years from now.
The night began with two opening acts, The Envy Corps and Paper Route, who both laid a flawless precedence to the Vegas boys. Indie rock Nashville native band Paper Route delivered an amazing, crowd pleasing performance led by lead singer JT Daly’s vocal relevance to Coldplay’s Chris Martin. The band was so good that I momentarily forgot I was there to see Imagine Dragons and felt a temporary pang of disappointment when they announced their final song for the night, feeling as though I had been musically satisfied for the evening between the two supporting bands for the night. It’s a treacherous feat to accomplish such an effect on a pulsating crowd much like the one at Verizon Wireless that night, but the mission was accomplished.
At the end of Paper Route’s set, there was a collective moan of disappointment among the crowd. We were pleased with what we’d seen and heard so far, and we made an enormous effort to translate it. Both opening bands were humbled beyond words at the dedication and appreciation expressed by the number of fans that still attended the show after the last minute disruption and poor weather.
Just after sunset, underneath the protection of the arena overhang, rain began to fall more heavily, and everyone settled into their seats in anticipation for our leading gentlemen. Not long after nightfall, the stage was overcome with a nightfall of its own. The lights were turned down as the set change found its completion and all that was visible were the distinguished glowing eyes of faux owls among the tree scope background – an aesthetic visual of the album’s title Night Visions. The comforting hum of crickets and nighttime sounds resonated across the span of seats from the stage and the low rumble of high anticipation began to swell from within the crowd. The familiar base line began to form and everyone was on their feet before the stage had even lit up. The band kicked off their set with “Round and Round”, a synthesized track with their typical intransient percussion from their EP Continued Silence that preceded their debut studio album. Within the first few notes of that first song, Imagine Dragons had taken over the stage and the fans. The show was strung high above us with slight guitar riff solos and smooth lyrical monologues etched among entrapping hits such as “Bleeding Out,” “Rocks,” “Underdog,” and their most recently videoed single “Demons.” The highlight and absolute peak of the entire performance was right smack in the middle of the set when the familiar vocal chords of the phenomenal hit “Radioactive” began to form alongside its partnered guitar riff. The swell of that first massive percussion beat elevated the entire audience, bringing everyone to the absolute edge and tips of our toes. Lead vocalist and bass drummer Dan Reynolds jumped from foot to foot excitedly in front of the massive drum that stood before him and raised his arm in anticipation of that first heavy beat of the drum. (Might I add that Reynolds not only positioned himself inside the pits of our core and planted roots beneath our ribcages, crawling out through every one of our nerve endings…but he did so with a broken wrist as well.)
The dramatic gasp of air that followed the beginning lines of “Radioactive,” “I’m breathing in the chemicals…” echoed audibly among the sea of people as the song picked up speed. Several steps into the song, the words fell silent as Reynolds moved away from the drum toward the back of the stage, the song carrying on instrumentally. Everyone stood on their tiptoes trying to figure out where he went and why the pause in lyrics, when suddenly he reappeared – strapped into a harness. He was slowly risen above the stage, drifting upward towards the rafters above the stage and our attention was drawn to a single bass drum suspended neatly just beneath the ceiling beams. There, suspended in mid air, similar to the character bReynolds continued the bass linalanced in mid air on the cover of Continued Silence, e of the song. Everyone went wild, thrusting animated fists violently into the air with the overwhelming energy that radiated from the stage. Singing along at full volume was unavoidable and standing still was unacceptable. The party had begun and more tracks from Night Visions continued, such as the hauntingly resonant sounds of “Hear Me,” “Tiptoe,” and “Amsterdam.”
An encore was most definitely demanded by deafening screams and pummeling of the backs of chairs once the group exited the stage. They didn’t wait long before gracing us with their presence once again and reappearing in response to heavy cheers and screams. They relieved our withdrawals by performing three more songs including “On Top of the World,” “Nothing Left to Sa,” and the most popular track by the band “It’s Time” before wrapping up the set for a second time.
Shortly after taking the stage, Reynolds paused in between songs in order to greet the audience. He was silent for a long moment, shaking his head in stunned appreciation, and thanked everyone for showing up stating, “I don’t know how any of you even know who we are, but I’m so glad you’re here. I’m so honored that what we’ve created has reached all of you.” Imagine Dragons are in that incredible, priceless stage of stardom where they’ve begun to make it big, but haven’t quite realized just how big they are or how big they’re going to get. The fans and media status have already been established, but the band itself stills feel setback by the reaction given just by walking onto the stage in a town and state they’ve never even been to before. I think everyone in attendance Tuesday night would agree – they shouldn’t thank us, because we should thank them. Their music is the rare occurrence of addictive sound and supremely relatable words. It’s the kind of stuff anyone of any age and any stage of life could listen to and find a part of their life where it fits perfectly, as if it were written specifically in description to their own problems. Before leaving the stage for good, Reynolds hollered into his mic, “I hope you didn’t get tired of us tonight, because there is a lot more yet to come!” Challenge accepted, Imagine Dragons. I bet you all stop making music long before any of us ever grow tired of you.
Catch them on tour!
Sat May 11 St Augustine, FL @ St. Augustine Amphitheater SOLD OUT
Thu May 16 Denver, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheater SOLD OUT
Mon May 20 Orem, UT @ UCCU (Utah Community Credit Union) Events Center SOLD OUT
Tue May 21 Boise, ID @ Idaho Botanical Garden SOLD OUT
Thu May 23 Edmonton, AB @ Shaw Conference Centre SOLD OUT
Fri May 24 Calgary, AB @ BMO Centre SOLD OUT
Wed May 29 Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Palladium SOLD OUT
Thu May 30 Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Palladium SOLD OUT
Fri May 31 San Francisco, CA @ America’s Cup Pavilion SOLD OUT
Sat Jun 01 San Diego, CA @ Open Air Theatre – San Diego State University SOLD OUT
Mon Jun 03 Phoenix, AZ @ Comerica Theater SOLD OUT
Wed Jul 24 Boston, MA @ Bank of America Pavilion SOLD OUT
Thu Jul 25 Wantagh, NY @ Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
Sat Jul 27 Nashville, TN @ The Woods Amphitheater at Fontanel
Mon Jul 29 Toronto, ON @ Echo Beach
Tue Jul 30 Cleveland, OH @ Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica RSVP SOLD OUT
May 23 Shaw Conference Centre Edmonton, Canada
May 24 BMO Centre Calgary, Canada
May 29 Hollywood Palladium Hollywood, CA