Imagine Dragons loves Detroit

The Fillmore goes black. The crowd screams as flashes from camera phones sporadically light up the darkened stage. Everyone waits impatiently in the darkness and starts to push forward, hoping to get a better spot against the empty stage. As the fans await that first chord, the first beat, or those first words, we are instead given crickets. Yes, we start to hear crickets and then we see eyes. Creepy sets of yellow eyes emerge from the darkness staring out into the crowd. Blue light appears revealing the shapes of bare trees with bat silhouettes hanging from their branches. A big, white moon appears on the horizon. Then finally, after two minutes of pure suspense, all the lights flash at once accompanied by a crash of thunder and blue lights dancing on the moon as an electronic-sounding track plays while the band slowly emerged onto the stage. Dan Reynolds, band leader, smacked a vertical standing drum probably about 7 feet, maybe taller, every so often, as the band took their places. With each strike of the drum, the stage was filled with white light and the crowd got louder and louder. The band began to join in as the simple beat became more complicated, building the instrumental which eventually turned into “Round and Round” in which Reynolds continued to smack the drum with one hand while holding the mic in the other. It was awesome.

On Friday, March 1, Imagine Dragons played at the Fillmore Detroit as part of their headlining Night Visions tour. This Las Vegas based band hasn’t been around for too long, but has already made great progress and really established themselves in the world of music. If you don’t recognize the name, chances are you have heard one of their hit songs, “It’s Time,” “Radioactive” or “On Top of the World.” They are a truly talented group of musicians. Their electronic, new age, rock sound is different without being too unbearably weird. Their lyrics are powerful and emotional. Their collection of songs is reflective of hard times but gives them a positive, comforting spin. Attending a concert has been, for me,  proof that the band is deeply connected to their music and that fans really relate to the underlying themes.

Overall, the concert was great. Since I ended up behind two guys that I would say were at least 6-feet-7-inches tall, I couldn’t see much, but that didn’t take away from the experience — they still sounded fantastic. You know a band is the real thing when their live performances sound identical to their studio ones. Reynolds’ vocals killed it. He kept up the energy on stage, his voice was angelic yet powerful and he would occasionally pick up the drumsticks throughout the night and continue to bang on the giant drum.

It was a well-picked setlist with “Amsterdam,” “Demons,” “Bleeding Out” and many others. But by far the best song was “Radioactive.” It lasted probably twice as long as it does on your iPod because of all the crazy intense instrumentals. The crowd sang the first verse and Reynolds may as well have let them sing the whole song because they had it down and they were almost louder than he was. After the second chorus, the song broke down until only violins remained and Reynolds returned to the big drum and the other band members joined him on drums of their own. They built up the instrumental for about two minutes as the lights flashed and the violins got faster. Then the lights went out as the crowd screamed — a pause for dramatic effect. Then the lights flared and the song continued with the crowd screaming, “I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones.”

With three songs remaining, Reynolds asked the audience to not drop any crowd surfers because everyone there was one big family. He then proceeded to play, very time appropriately, “On Top of the World.” The audience got the hint, and about forty different crowd surfers emerged. So naturally, I turn to a strong looking man behind me and point to myself. He picks me up and since I was already second row, sends me backwards. The crowd carries me until I eventually fall to the ground.

“It’s Time” is just too epic of a song to not try and crowd surf back to the front. The crowd carried me forward. The moment was accompanied all too perfectly, as a security guard took me from the hands of the crowd I pumped my fist into the air as the song ended screaming, “I’m never changing who I am.” The guard put me down right in front of Reynolds, standing on the edge of the stage and I proceeded to high five everyone in the first row and made my way to the back of the crowd.

Several times, Reynolds mentioned how much he loved Detroit. Yes, almost every band does this to every city they play in, but this was different.

He told the crowd, “The city represents to me empowerment and rising from the dust. You guys are incredible. I mean that, Detroit. Every time I come here the people I meet just seem very real, very down to Earth.”

Needless to say, the night was epic.