October brings cooler weather, pumpkin spice lattes and a bevy of crazy costumes for the upcoming Halloween season. It also brings a close to the majority of the music festivals as summer turns to autumn, and gets bands and artists back out on their own headlining tours. The first concert of fall for me happened to be Imagine Dragons.
Interestingly, not only did I get to go with Jess, but my mom and sister decided to join the fun at Seattle’s KeyArena in the shadow of the Space Needle. You probably do not need a lot of preface to the venue, if you have read our concert reviews before, but if you have not been to KeyArena, it is not necessarily the greatest venue for acoustics. Unfortunately, Seattle does not really have decently sized arena that is built for music. So we traveled to the former home of the NBA’s Seattle Supersonics to catch one of my favorite live acts.
The opening act was singer/rapper Kristine Flaherty, better know by her stage name K.Flay. The Wilmette, Illinois native was an interesting start to the concert. If you have never heard of K.Flay, it would be difficult to describe her style in one word. She has a style that is a blend of industrial, hip-hop, rap and grunge with an indie/alternative vibe. Her songs “High Enough” and “Blood In The Cut” are infectious and had the crowd bouncing even as the opener.
I did have a small problem with K.Flay and it really did not have anything to do with her. Most of the time, and this seems to be a common issue with rap, the vocal monitors were too low and it was nearly impossible to hear her over the thumping percussion and the electric guitar. And even with that slight setback, K.Flay put on a great opening act that set the stage for GROUPLOVE and Imagine Dragons.
After a set change that included breaking down the crazy strobe light setup of K.Flay to inflating a crazy blowup of some crazy teeth that would hover above the second opener, GROUPLOVE. And as interesting as that was, the band itself is a collection of unique individuals with some killer talent. GROUPLOVE, led by the married couple of lime green-maned lead vocalists Christian Zucconi and Hannah Hooper along with drummer Ryan Rabin, guitarist Andrew Wessen and bassist Daniel Gleason, have an interesting style that caused Jess to ask the relevant questions of, “Are they are from Portland? I feel like I’m in an episode of Portlandia.” After a quick laugh, we found out that the band is from Los Angeles, which was then followed with a shrug and the comment, “Yeah, that also makes sense.”
GROUPLOVE puts on a show. Even with a short stage to work on, they were bounding all over. Their high energy set was entertaining and are meant to be played in an arena. Their songs “Welcome To Your Life”, “Shark Attack” and “Do You Love Somebody” set the bar. And for them to end with their huge platinum hit, “Tongue Tied” and a cover of The Beastie Boys‘s “Sabotage” was unreal. We all know that “Sabotage” is a monster song that transcends the genre of hip-hop and rock, and GROUPLOVE crushed it! It was amazing and rivaled the original. Even after the concert, we were still talking about the cover of “Sabotage”. It definitely left a lasting impression.
When it comes to Imagine Dragons, we have had a connection with the band for years. Shortly after the Continued Silence EP was released in 2012, but before the release of their commercially successful debut, Night Vision, Lemonade Magazine had the chance to sit down with lead singer Dan Reynolds. And in March 2013 at the Roseland Theater in Portland, OR, it was our first chance to catch the band live. It started an obsession. The show at the KeyArena on October 6, 2017 in Seattle was the fourth time I had caught the Las Vegas quartet in action.
Opening the evening with the first track off of Evolve, “I Don’t Know Why”, and that set the atmosphere and let us
know that their brand of anthemic rock was on point. After a few songs, Dan Reynolds took a few minutes to talk about the mass shooting in his hometown of Las Vegas. He stated that they would never stop performing and that their concerts were a safe space. It was a great sentimental and heartfelt speech.
Their love of lasers and smoke was on full display with a fun use of confetti, smoke-filled bubbles and huge balloons. The band also when from the front stage to a small, intimate platform near the back of the arena and did an short acoustic settle that starred Wayne Sermon on cello, Ben McKee on viola and acoustic guitar and Daniel Platzman on drums and keys.
Their set was a mixture of songs from Night Visions, Smoke + Mirrors and Evolve. Right before the finish of their set, Reynolds comes out to say, that normally, they would play the next song, walk off stage and wait for an encore, but that was stupid and so they would cram as many songs as they could play in their allotted time. Then without hesitation, they jumped right into “Radioactive” which was as flashy as it has ever been with a huge drum session. Imagine Dragons then closed with “Walk The Wire” and their debut single off Evolve, “Believer”.
It was a spectacular show that was filled with drama, energy and emotion. Imagine Dragons continues to up their game and their live shows continues to grow with them. I suggest you catch Imagine Dragons at least once, you will not be disappointed.
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