Imagine Dragons at Roy Wilkins, 9/30/13
Photo by Youa Vang
With the Neighbourhood and the Envy Corps
Roy Wilkins Auditorium, St. Paul
Monday, September 30, 2013
What a difference a year and a lot of radio play makes for a band. Since hitting the road in February of this year, Las Vegas band Imagine Dragons have not slowed down one bit. They've played a grueling tour of as many as 25 shows a month, and it doesn't look like it will anytime soon.
The band could have turned into a one-hit wonder and fallen into obscurity after "It's Time" made its way around the airwaves, but the rest of Night Visions is just as catchy as the first single, allowing them to build their tour around the album. Essentially the music is the core of the show, but the band sure knows how to deliver an entertaining night that included drums, drums, and more drums.
The hype machine can sometimes get carried away with artists, but with Imagine Dragons, it certainly is correct. With a stage set with five different drums -- which included a Taiko drum taller than lead singer Dan Reynolds -- and a drum set, the band set out to make everything epic for the sold out audience. Reynolds wasted no time in using the Taiko drum, grabbing a mallet and beating on it for the opening of "Round and Round," a lesser-known song off an earlier EP. No matter, the crowd knew every word and sang along, as they would do for each song Monday evening, creating a chorus to back up the band.
In his air of humility, Dan says enough onstage to keep the crowd engaged, but not to the point of tedium. The singer expressed his thanks to the Twin Cities market for its support for such a small band in the early stages, citing their visit to Minneapolis for the Basilica Block Party in 2012 as a highlight. Although the Roy is in St. Paul, many musicians often call it Minneapolis, as did Reynolds for the whole evening, often saying, "We love Minneapolis."
Photo by Youa Vang
With such a small catalog to draw from -- some EPs and the full-length Night Visions -- the band was able to bring out some non-radio songs including "Amsterdam" and "Cha-Ching (Till We Grow Older." "Cha-Ching" and "Rocks" both integrate many African tribal drums elements into the pieces, allowing Dan to play musical drums with the sets onstage. Perhaps that plays into Reynolds' ADD nature. Not waiting till the end of the show for their big hit, "It's Time" was pulled out early in the set, causing the audience to go wild.
Photos by Youa Vang
The set was slowed down with some Spanish guitar picking from Wayne Sermon, leading into a slower "30 Lives" -- a welcome respite from such an energetic show. During this interlude, Dan perfected his drawl for a cover of Cold War Kids' "Hang Me Up to Dry" segueing into "Stand By Me," which played into the CWK's underlying bass line.
With earnestness in his voice and laced throughout his lyrics, Dan rolled up his sleeves to grab a drum mallet while gigantic balloons filled with confetti were thrown out into the crowd -- keeping everyone dancing to the tune. "On Top of the World" features Jamaican-like steel drum beats, making a night with Imagine Dragons feel like a trip around the world. The highlight of the evening came in the form of "Radioactive." The band's single played into the epicness of the night, with every impassioned lyric about apocalypses and welcoming them to the new age shouted to the audience. During the bridge, each band member took to a drum and pounded out to an extended drum segment.
With the biggest hits done, the encore featured the passionate "Nothing Left to Say." The tune had Reynolds admitting "my age has never made me wise" and led the band into an extended ending fronted by Dan as he sped and slowed down the song, much like a conductor. To echo "Radioactive," Imagine Dragons inspires an overpowering passion that is felt in the bones.
Critic's bias: I was a little late into the game when listening to Night Visions, but feel it is a solid record. Imagine Dragons were able to take it and transform it into an amazing show and something that allows the teenager to transition into adult music easily. They could almost be the next U2.
The crowd: Some young kids with their parents, but most ran between the ages of 18-30.
Overheard in the crowd: "There's dragons in there, and they're waiting for us."
Random notebook dump: I was a little concerned about the sound since my seat was right was the last possible seat against the wall, but the sound was amazing good at the Roy.
Random notebook dump 2: The Envy Corps pronounced their love for the Cities and brought out Usonia's Ross Vander Werf on one of their songs.
The Envy Corps with Ross Vander Werf
Photo by Youa Vang
Round and Round
Cha-Ching (Till We Grow Older)
Hang Me Up to Dry/Stand By Me
On Top of the World
Nothing Left to Say
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