You might be asking yourself, “A Kings of Leon concert? Really?”
Yes, really. I’m a big fan of their’s, and just because they happen to have a song on pop music stations now doesn’t really bother me. I don’t see them as a band who sold out (yet). Sure, they could eventually hit Nickelback or Kid Rock status at some point, but I doubt that ever happens. They have a distinctive sound, and I dig it.
Anyhoo, I headed up to Noblesville, Indiana to catch the show with my girlfriend and a couple friends. First of all, it had been a few years since I’d been up there for a show (2005, I believe), and I was very excited to see the area around the amphitheater has undergone a massive face lift in those years and that traffic was not suicide inducing (at least, not on the way in. More on that later).
The time before a show is always interesting, especially at a place like this that invokes the tailgating mentality. Even before people have parked, their trunks are popped and everyone is making their friends at the Budweiser, Miller, and Coors Brewing Companies filthy rich. Not I though, as I was driving, which forced to stay classy and consume all of ONE beer. Before a show, people are just having fun interacting with the people around them, the beer flowing, and a very distinct herbal aroma is permeating the country air.
As we made our way onto the lawn and spotted out a good area to stand in the mud, the opening act, The Whigs, took the stage. They played for much longer than I expected at around 45-50 minutes, but they weren’t terrible. Billed from Athens, Georgia, they entertained us as most of the crowd made their way to the nearest Brewhouse or Piss Factory. After they left the stage, I was a bit perplexed as it looked like the Kings of Leon drumset was wheeled onto the stage. The show was originally billed as having the band Glasvegas opening up, and I just assumed this was a three-band show after The Whigs. I specifically skipped seeing at Lollapalooza because I knew I would see them here. But it was not to be. (It was later announced by Kings of Leon themselves that the band was battling illness. But still, that sucks. Finally, an opening act I’d heard of.)
As the stage was being prepared for the Kings, the crowd began to turn. Not necessarily in a terrible way, just into a drunken stupor. Normally I’m right smack dab in on this, but watching it through sober eyes is quite annoying. These people are just stumbling around, complete disregard for any and every one else at the show. Thankfully, I hang out with functional drinkers, so I had a nice little buffer zone. There was a constant mist falling from the sky during the night, but it wasn’t an uncomfortable mist. It was actually semi-refreshing. Plus, it led to some people falling, which is always solid gold.
Kings of Leon took the stage, and as expected, the crowd went wild. And this was no ordinary crowd, this might have been the biggest crowd I have ever seen in a handful of shows at this venue. I’m talking absolutely packed to the rafters. I attribute this to two things: 1) The band not sucking. 2) The tickets were priced reasonably. The second reason is key. People are willing to make an event if the tickets aren’t outrageously priced. I wish more bands/venues would realize this. The reason shows don’t sell out isn’t the recession or lack of interest in the band. It’s because you’re asking $75 to see one band. People who want to go to the show don’t want to invest that much just to get inside the door unless they are diehard fans.
As they began, they played with great consistency, and their setlist (which I unfortunately couldn’t write down or find online as of press time) had a very discernible flow which I thought really captured and capitalized on a great mood. They would play a handful of their more upbeat bluesy-rock and then pepper in the slower, more ballad-y songs. I was very impressed with the setlist. They paced the show very well, and didn’t blow their wad within the first five songs.
They also sounded absolutely fantastic. There was never a song or a moment where I felt the acoustics were too overwhelming. They had great balance. The set was colorful and fun, and I loved that each song had a different color scheme, it really added to the individuality of each song. I was also really pleased to see that you could tell they were grateful to be playing to such a huge crowd, a crowd willing to brave the weather just to see them play some music. I don’t think their days of being a struggling band looking for a break were lost on them. They did mention that this was the biggest crowd they had ever played, and although a bit skeptical, I could see it potentially being true. I think what they meant was that this was their biggest solo show they had ever played, and I actually hope it’s true. I like the feeling that the show I attended actually kind of mattered on a grand scale.
However, I would like to direct this next section to anyone who ever attends a show at Verizon in the future. After the show, be prepared for the most unbearable, horribly directed mass exodus you could possibly imagine. Some people assholes who leave before the show is over, only to clog up traffic worse than if they’d stayed. The venue really should figure out someway to expedite this. They make you park in a specific spot, and then they offer no help as to getting everyone on their way after the show.
The show was a nice experience, and Kings of Leon were actually very impressive. Their setlist was balanced and fun, they sounded great, and the production of the show was top notch. If you aren’t a fan of the band, totally understandable, but I would recommend checking out their live show. I went with a couple friends who aren’t big fans, and they were both very impressed with the show and, to be honest, probably very impressed with the volume of females in rainboots.
Score: 8.5/10 (Great)