February 13, 2013

Imagine Dragons only has one album. One hit-packed, kick-ass, cross-genre album. What’s cool about going to a show put on by a band with only one album is that there’s a good chance the audience will know every word to every song. And at this show, they definitely did.

As the arena lights dimmed amidst thousands of screams, the band took the stage through a giant, silver tattered backdrop while the blue lights and fog were put into full effect. The audience was going crazy, yet the intro wasn’t over yet. A light pre-recorded melody started playing while white strobe lights flashed. The band began playing for a short time before any voices started singing.

Lead singer Dan Reynolds danced down a platform straight into the crowd on the floor as he began the first few lines of “Fallen.” It was the perfect opening to the show: the fans were thrilled and the newcomers and tag-alongs were instantly hooked.

It can be hard for a small band to play for such a huge crowd. Large venues like the SAP Center, previously the HP Pavillion, get a bad rep for their massive size, which usually discourages interaction with the audience. But Imagine Dragons was a pleasing exception.  They expertly worked the crowd through their fourteen-song set, punctuated by an incredible light design and a stage set up to foster audience interaction.

Light design is an aspect of most shows that can be easily overlooked, but as the Imagine Dragons team demonstrated Thursday night, lighting can be integral to a successful show.  Combinations of orange, green, and purple lights gave the band a simultaneously low-key and high-energy vibe that is difficult to master.  

The best example of this came in the end of the set, where the band played their three most popular songs all in a row. One hit followed another as the 14-song set ended with “On Top of the Word,” “Demons,” and finally, “Radioactive.” Needless to say, the crowd was singing along and dancing to the songs, clearly having great fun. All this excitement surged when confetti-filled balloons fell from the ceiling during “Radioactive.”  

While these three hits were a great way to end the show, it left the audience unsure if there would even be an encore. Many bands will leave one or two songs that must be played till the end of the show, making the encore not only inevitable, but also necessary. After the last three songs there wasn’t any need for an encore, though Imagine Dragons took to the stage once more to play “Nothing Left to Say.” The song was a fitting end, though not at all imperative. Overall, the show would have been stronger had the band just ended the show without an encore.

Imagine Dragons played a great set in San Jose, bringing the crowd to its feet with the three back-to-back hits at the end of their main set. They may only have one album’s worth of songs up their sleeves, but they put on one hell of a show.


Photos by Sophia Weltman / Staff