|IMAGINE DRAGONS w/ ATLAS GENIUS at Sound Academy – Toronto (Slideshow)|
|REVIEWS - LIVE|
|Written by Sarah Rix|
|Saturday, 02 March 2013 02:52|
"Wednesday’s sold out performance at the Sound Academy showed a band both ready and willing to connect with its audience."
Artist: Imagine Dragons
Opener: Atlas Genius
Venue: Sound Academy
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Date: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Reviewed & photographed by: Sarah Rix
When you go to a show, you want to be entertained. Good music? Great, but if that’s not enough to stand on its own, stage antics and a pretty backdrop go a long way. Thankfully Imagine Dragons don’t appear to be lacking in any of these departments. Wednesday’s sold out performance at the Sound Academy showed a band both ready and willing to connect with its audience. They’re also ready to take on bigger venues.
For their first time in Toronto, openers Atlas Genius put on a strong set to a sizeable crowd. The Australian four-piece is touring their debut album, the recently released When It Was Now. You get the sense there is more to the band than an opening slot, but warm-up duties will hopefully be time well spent. There are still a couple of kinks to iron out before they’re completely ready for the spotlight. Take, for instance, “Electric,” a song that showed there’s still some work to do in tightening up their live act if they want to come across as cohesive. With a bit more time on the road, it’ll inevitably come together.
With that in mind, there’s certainly an easy market for their brand of indie rock. Led by vocalist and guitarist Keith Jeffery, with his brothers Michael (drums) and Steven (bass), and keyboardist Darren Sell, think the darker vibes of Interpol mashed with the dance floor friendliness of Two Door Cinema Club. “Don’t Make A Scene” was, like many of their other numbers, conducive to crowd clapping, while single “Trojans” was easily the most polished of their numbers. Catchy guitar hooks, strong drumming, and a charming front man will help them find space on a lot of trendy playlists.
If you missed them this time around, they’ll be back fairly soon with a June 23 date set at The Opera House. It’ll be a worthwhile show to check out.
For Imagine Dragons, the name of the game is showmanship. They were, by all accounts, excited to be in Toronto. It had been a while since they played the city and their value has certainly increased. It’s fitting, given the band plays stadium-sized rock – a point emphasized by their lighting and set design.
Besides playing in front of an impressive backdrop, the band brought with them an arsenal of drums. That, combined with catchy songs and lyrics begging for a sing-along, added to the feel of a festival set. There was camaraderie amongst the crowd… To the extent that midway through the show, I actually had to Google whether or not Imagine Dragons is a Christian rock band.
For the record: Yes. Like fellow Las Vegas bands Panic! at the Disco and The Killers, there are ties to Mormonism. There’s also a spin towards uplifting the crowd and avoiding the general “rock pitfalls” – there’s no swearing or rebellion here. But that’s not to say the audience was there because of religion. They were there because the band performs well and has strong songs to show for it, from debut album Night Visions. While I may have gotten a religious vibe, Imagine Dragons unmistakably transcend any sort of Christian rock genre.
The Las Vegas upbringing also explains the theatricality of the show. Dan Reynolds was the energetic front man, jumping from one drum set to another and engaging the crowd from atop a speaker. “Oh man, you guys are amazing. I forgot how cool you are,” he exclaimed. “Last time we played here, it was like to five people. Thank you. Thank you for telling your friends. It’s nothing to do with us. It’s all about the music and you guys sharing it.”
Musically, there’s a range of styles thrown in. “Rocks” brought out a more African inspired side, supported by drums from Dan Platzman and an impressive display of harmonies. “Radioactive” – a number that’s been getting a lot of radio airplay – is fantastic live. It’s an electro-heavy song that makes good use of Reynolds’ passionate voice. They followed it up with the slower “Lay Me Down.” It was a strange place to drop a guitar-led ballad (and the audience certainly tuned out for it,) but the energy quickly revived following a great bass solo from Ben McKee and “Bleeding Out.”
The band’s biggest single, “It’s Time,” further cemented their place in an outdoor venue. Sometimes it’s just cool to hear a crowd get that into a song. The band also obviously love what they’re doing and are having fun with it. It’s entertaining – what all live shows should be.
“It’s been far too long since we’ve been here,” Reynolds told the crowd. “It won’t happen again, I promise. We’re coming back this summer already.” No doubt to a bigger stage and an even larger crowd.
Thanks to Live Nation.