Imagine Dragons at Xcel Energy Center, 3/12/14

Categories: Last Night
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Photo By Erik Hess

Imagine Dragons
With the Naked and Famous and Nico Vega
Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
March 12, 2014

There are few shows throughout rock history that have changed the face of music as we know it. The Beatles' infamous appearance on Ed Sullivan. The Rolling Stones at Altamont. Hendrix at Woodstock. Formaldehyde Junkies at the Mala. And on March 12, 2014, the face of true rock 'n' roll has been rearranged once again as Imagine Dragons wowed an audience who traveled from distances as far as Wilmar, Minnesota.

See Also: Slideshow: Imagine Dragons at the Xcel, 3/12/14


Although the Midwest has recently warmed up, everything was totally chill for the game-changing event at the sold-out Xcel Energy Center. As dusk approached, self-assured and decidedly stoked young men and women clad in American Apparel hoodies, plaid flannels, and other indie-streetwear flooded the streets, racing to see one of the most progressive and monumental shows ever to hit the area. E-cigs blazed as dedicated prog-rockers stood outside the arena, shuffling their feet and discussing online gaming. Some were even interviewed by a local cutting-edge news team, "On the Fly with Tony Fly."

Inside the arena was a different story, one of expanding minds and opening hearts. Young men and women sat on the carpeted floors of the Xcel Center in the general gate area, clustered in coves like goths outside of the Mall of America bathrooms. But there were no social classes here -- no goths, no losers, no cool people. Only fans of one of the greatest rock bands of our troubled times, all united in peaceful harmony.

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Photo By Erik Hess

Although the audience was young, the amount of children present proves that the average Imagine Dragons fan is an enlightened and advanced being -- as this is a serious band of serious musicians, most certainly only capable of being understood by adult intellectuals. Police officers stood in a cloud of funnel cake mist, staring at their phones -- no doubt texting for backup in order to contain the impending riot from the crazed crowd.

I entered the darkened and glorious innards of the Xcel in time to catch the first act, the moody and ambient, Nico Vega. Singer Aja Volkman entertained in a glittery garment, performing with the seductive ferocity of Cameron Diaz in 1994's The Mask. Feet thudded rhythmically to the sound of the powerful kick drum as Nico Vega dazzled the crowd like some sort of a hybrid of Bjork and Tool with the rock sensibilities of Led Zeppelin. Although skilled and adeptly showing their worldly ways using a noted reggae influence, their creativity proved too much for Dragonheads like myself as we yearned for a performance with less talent and a carefully crafted and easily marketed sense of emotion.

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Photo By Erik Hess

The Naked and Famous took the stage next and, boy oh boy, were they anything but naked. With their full sound and intensely moving sample tracks, they amped up the intensity in front of a backdrop of vibrant yellow and white strobe lights. Dark and rhythmic, they were a sort of brilliant hybrid of Bjork meets Tool meets Nine Inch Nails or maybe Led Zeppelin. Bringing an incredible aural spectacle of interwoven samples and echoing guitars, their bass guitar pounded and loosened up concertgoers' guts for some pelvic dancing. For a brief moment, it felt like the most intense sexual dance party for a new media marketing organization in downtown Woodbury.

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Photo By Erik Hess

One of the singers looked like a young and Irish Andrew Dice Clay -- a modern-day Adonis. Holding the audience captive with their intense stage presence, the Naked and Famous swayed with the sort of intensity only witnessed at the city's finest topless bars in North Minneapolis. As the stage lights evolved, it felt almost like Husker Du's "Pink Turns to Blue" was written solely about this mesmerizing performance.


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