On a search for momentum in Austin with music as a compass.
On a search for momentum in Austin with music as a compass.
Originally posted at the Horn: http://www.readthehorn.com/photos/90473/imagine_dragons_at_frank_erwin_center_reviewphotos
It’s not surprising to hear that Imagine Dragons, one of the top grossing live acts of 2013, hail from the entertainment mecca of the world, Las Vegas. As Rolling Stone’s “Breakthrough Band of 2013,” Imagine Dragons have blazed a trail to the top of the charts, not just with great songwriting and musicianship, but with the professional showmanship of a band that understands what it takes to make a live performance memorable.
The five-piece indie band from Auckland, New Zealand called the Naked and Famous took the stage after a set from Nico Vega. These Kiwis are no stranger to Austin and have played SXSW quite often while headlining and selling out their own shows at smaller venues like the Mohawk and Stubbs. Making the jump from mid-market venues to arenas like the Erwin Center couldn’t have gone any smoother for these electro-popsters, as their larger than life songs galvanized the Austin audience into a dancing frenzy. Mega hits like “Punching In A Dream,” “Hearts Like Ours” and “Young Blood” played out magnificently in the arena setting and, judging by their effectiveness in reaching the large audience, it won’t be long before the Naked and Famous are headlining their own arena tour.
Alisa Xayalith of The Naked and Famous
With only Imagine Dragons left to play, it soon became apparent that it wasn’t just indie rock fans and college kids comprising the crowd, but rather a large demographic of teeny boppers and tweens, mainly female, that would squeal with pleasure as the lights dimmed and Imagine Dragons took the stage.
To say frontman Dan Reynolds brings a healthy degree of energy to his performance would be the understatement of the century. Frenetically jerking his body in an odd resemblance to Justin Timberlake in a state of seizing, Dan ran close to a half-marathon as dashed back and forth across the long stage.
Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons
The band opened up with a throttling trio of songs, “Fallen,” “Tiptoe” and “It’s Time,” that would set the stage for the spectacle that would follow. Dan Reynolds and the rest of Imagine Dragons are a personification of Vegas, through and through. From each member banging on their own individual timpani on certain songs to the individual solos that each band member played at varying times during the set, their showmanship is tight, professional and holds an understandably wide appeal.
The highlight of the show that came as a shock in the latter half of the set was when Reynolds announced how Imagine Dragons had an affinity for classic rock - the band Rush in particular - before launching into an intensely explosive cover of “Tom Sawyer” by the Canadian rock legends, which was admirable to say the least. To add to the emotional intensity of the show, Reynolds dedicated a song to a friend of his named Tyler Robinson who succumbed to cancer a few months ago. The lights in the arena went dark for the song and audience members pulled out plastic white lights that had been given at the entrance to illuminate the stadium with thousands of tiny lights.
With the crowd completely entranced by the band, the Vegas showstoppers proceeded to bring down the house with their megahits “Demons” and “Radioactive,” which had the whole arena singing along. The band knew exactly what they were doing, from their setlist down to their mind-numbing laser shows, and with their deadly mix of hit-making ability and showmanship, I can comfortably say this won’t be Imagine Dragon’s last arena tour. -Lee Ackerley
Originally Posted at The Horn:
Yet another high profile electronic act came through Austin this Saturday on a seemingly random stop-off from their current state of affairs. No, it is wasn’t a corporate event or a massive music festival that brought European electronic dance wizards Delorean all the way to Austin from their native Barcelona. It was the creative genius of Jeramy Neugent’s and Ian Orth’s party planning company, Learning Secrets, that once again pulled off a music booking grand slam in celebration of their 10th anniversary show.
Learning Secrets began in 2004 when Jeramy and Ian, both DJ’s in Austin, decided to act on an obvious dearth of quality electronic dance acts performing in the Austin area. Like any successful entrepreneurs, they identified an unmet demand and satiated it. While cities like Miami, New York and Los Angeles are hotbeds for music like indie electronica and dancetronica, Austin is anything but. Hometown heroes like Bob Schneider, Alejandro Escovedo, and Willie Nelson have earmarked Austin as a predominantly Americana/Country town which happens to be the exact reciprocal of the synth infused, Moog obsessed, high-RPM, dance music that Learning Secrets serves up. That’s why you’ve never heard of a hybrid genre like Country-Electro, or have you?
Ian and Jeramy have steadily become the patron saints of the Austin electronic scene. In an environment where major local bookers like C3 and Transmission evets battle like leviathans in an effort to dominate the musical landscape, Learning Secrets is the court jester dancing beneath them – subtly pleasing their loyal fans by luring internationally acclaimed bands to Austin in an unpretentious manner, and only doing so once a month to preserve the quality of their shows.
Learning Secrets doesn’t just bring in Top 40 electro artists that have been stamped and approved by mainstream media outlets; they thrive on featuring artists that they think are underappreciated. This method of featuring artists that are unproven or unknown may read like Greek to club owners and promoters who typically find comfort in booking bands with social approval quantified in Facebook ‘likes’ and Twitter followers, from which they can assure themselves a statistically sound night of ticket sales.
Breaking with convention has paid off for Learning Secrets as they can now look back on a decade of electronic shows that have featured a variety of acts that reads like an electronica fan’s wet dream. Acts like Classixx, Moby, Peaches, Phoenix, Pooolside, Neon Indian, Fred Falke, Holy Ghost!, Glass Candy, Lemonade, Tanlines, Ladyhawke, KISSES, Tensnake, Ladytron, The Field, Com Truise, James Murphy, !!!, Flight Facilities, and now Delorean have all been lured to Austin by Learning Secrets. As a lifelong electronica fan and perennial cheerleader of the underdogs in life, it is difficult to not fall behind Ian Orth, Jeramy Neugent and everyone else involved in their cause to bring great electronic music to Austin.