By Matt Clarkin, Staff Writer
I can’t say I like live-concerts much. The drinks are a fortune, the mosh-pits a pain, and other fans a drag. So by the time I’ve waited five hours in standing-room-only for my new favorite band to reach the stage, my legs and my patience are a little worse for the wear and leave me wondering if it was worth all that. In fact, I had sworn off live-concerts altogether until, that is, Imagine Dragons came to Boston back in February.
To my surprise, opening band Nico Vega is responsible for the trailer song to Bioshock Infinite called “Beast of America” which is such a good song it could pass for a classic rock anthem (and I was convinced it was a classic for some time even after this concert). The rest of their songs too were both catchy and angry and that always strikes a chord with me. Also, female rock vocalists are usually overrated in my book – except for maybe Hayley Williams and Ellie Goulding – but again Nico Vega’s lead vocalist Aya Volkman won me over.
The second was Australian band Atlas Genius. Following Nico Vega’s powerful guitar riffs they didn’t come up too strong owing to the general softness of their melodies. Atlas Genius didn’t blow me away, but I did download their hit song “Trojans.”
At last Imagine Dragons came onstage with fog-machines working on full-blast and a sweet forest lantern-light stage scene behind them. The music was good, but lacked the luster that comes with their studio editing. Don’t get me wrong, the vocals were good, and the prerecorded tech-synth sounds were fine, but none of the live-songs reflected the same “umph” as their studio-edited mp3 counterparts.
I couldn’t shake the impression that lead vocalist Dan Reynolds put more effort into head-banging, finding things to jump on, and exciting the crowd than actually trying to keep beat or hit all his notes. I can’t say I was listening to a band that played their hearts out; rather, I was watching awesome stage effects while some band went through their set self-consciously, awaiting the praise of their audience. I was obliged to cheer because it was Imagine Dragons, not because the renditions of their own songs were very good.
Despite the concert’s disappointment, there were some rewarding moments. Huge thumbs up to Nico Vega, and a smaller thumbs up to Atlas Genius — even though I wasn’t immensely impressed, they delivered a higher quality music product than the main attraction. Thumbs down to Imagine Dragons for making me lose faith in the real quality of the bands whose mp3’s I love. I’m not much of a moralist, but I found a moral for this one — stay home, and stick with your studio-polished mp3’s because bands are not half as dependable as the download.