The past few years have brought Imagine Dragons out of obscurity and catapulted them into stardom. With only one full-length album, Night Visions, under their belt, they have gone from no names, to playing sold out arenas. Made up of Dan Reynolds (vocals), Ben McKee (Bass guitar), Wayne Sermon (guitar), and Daniel Platzman (drums), the Las Vegas natives have found much of their success in the past year, with their most recent coming from winning a Grammy for Best Rock Performance for their smash hit “Radioactive.”
Appearing at Valley View on Saturday, February 15th, people began to lineup for the best spots in the house several hours before doors even opened. A giant circular screen for live feed hovered over the back of stage, which itself contained the band’s signature setup of a variety of drums.
With only really one album to work with, I figured the set list would be a bit limiting. Wrong. For the fans of theirs who have supported them before the success of Night Visions, or the ones who have listened to their other songs, the set was a real treat. Combining songs from their album with “The River” from their It's Time EP, as well as “Monster” from the Catching Fire Soundtrack, the band kept their set fun and unpredictable. The biggest surprise of a song choice came from an incredible cover of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” which not only got parents dancing around the floor, but resulted in my cell phone to explode in texts that read “Mind = Blown.”
Frontman Reynolds holds most of the weight of the show on his shoulders. More often than not, he doesn’t have an instrument to attend to, leaving him free to move about the stage. Never quite in the same spot for a long time, unless lending a beat on one of the ten drum setups onstage, he keeps a constant connection with the audience, feeding off their energy and throwing it right back. Ramps on the wings of the stage allow Reynolds to get closer to audience members up in the seats, most of which were on their feet anyways.
Throughout the set, the band was able to really show off their technical skills. A drum solo and a guitar solo (on an amazing gold guitar by BilT Guitars) between songs filled up time, and allowed Reynolds a breather. The technicality within the members of the band is refreshing. Where radio is dominated by power chords and recycled progressions, the band took time out of their set to really prove that they’re not just a one trick pony, but skilled professionals and expert musicians.
The encore was a real treat. Reynolds claimed that they were doing something different for the San Diego show and I couldn’t imagine what the surprise would be. They launched right into “Nothing Left to Say,” a personal favorite, but nothing out of the ordinary. It wasn’t until the song came to an end that they introduced Dave Keuning, guitarist for fellow Las Vegas based group, The Killers. His name sparked a loud roar from much of the audience (myself as well, admittedly) who most likely had grown up listening to them. He soloed next to Sermon, with the same skill and finesse that Sermon has been displaying throughout the night.
Imagine Dragons are arguably one of, if not the biggest band right now. Apparently a popular opinion amongst many, Night Visions is hands down one of the overall best albums to come out recently, with every song having the potential of being a single. On top of solid music, they put on one of, if not the best, live shows. Throughout the night I saw parents dancing alongside their kids, a beautiful reminder on how the love of music can transcend generational gaps and differences. If ever there is a chance to see them, it doesn’t matter if you know their music or not, you won’t be disappointed.