Kings of Leon at Target Center, 3/6/14
|Photo by Steve Cohen|
Kings of Leon
Target Center, Minneapolis
Thursday, March 6, 2014
The Kings of Leon have come a long way since the start of their year-long hiatus. And by that, we just mean they're no longer ditching shows three songs in due to drunkenness or pigeon shit. Otherwise, they're still stuck in the same, tired routine. At their Target Center stop on the Mechanical Bull tour last night, the Followill brothers and cousin stayed on their respective sides of the stage, made little effort to engage the crowd (or one another, for that matter), and Caleb sort of looked like he wanted to die.
They did make a few winning choices, however. The first of which was choosing to tour with Grammy-winning guitarist Gary Clark Jr., who kicked off the night with a versatile compilation of blues, funk and R&B. One minute, Clark was spitting out dynamic guitar solos, and the next, he was singing in falsetto for an R&B ballad, inspiring drunk girls in the pit to slow dance.
Hardly anyone in the crowd seemed to know who Clark was, proven by numerous overheard remarks -- the most ridiculous being, "Is this Kings of Leon?" But by the end of his set, Clark had gained an arena's worth of fans. He said it best himself in his hit "Bright Lights" with the words, "You gonna know my name by the end of the night."
|Photos by Steve Cohen|
And it was true, if for no other reason than that his was the only other name on the ticket. Clark received a standing ovation and during the break, you couldn't go more than ten seconds without hearing someone comment on his chops. Clark has the whole package -- he's beautiful, wears tasteful man scarves, destroys the six string, and could probably make a career as a singer alone.
If only we could say the same for the Kings.
The set started out well enough, perhaps because the band was concealed behind a massive translucent wall of fabric for the first song. As they played through "Charmer," video clips of a wolf chasing a girl in a white dress were projected onto the massive screen behind the fabric wall, which was almost entertaining enough to fool us into thinking Caleb was singing in a coherent manner, but not quite. He mumbled through the entire song as though he was drunk, tired of trying, or a combination of the two. Not a good way to start.
After the second song, Caleb addressed the audience. "Thank y'all very much. We're Kings of Leon," he said. The crowd screamed so loud, you'd swear they'd forgotten.
For the next few songs, the screen in the background projected massive images of the Kings' faces, which didn't do much to remedy the lack of enthusiasm, so it was time to take a few minutes to look around the arena. A Seth Rogen lookalike a few rows up appeared to be having an orgasm. Two girls on the floor were sending blurry Snapchats. Just beside us, a middle-aged man made metal horns and indulged in non-stop interpretive dancing.
|Photos by Steve Cohen|
A young, zombified woman suddenly appeared in the front row and her demeanor stuck us as a perfect representation for the entire show. She was beautiful, but dead-eyed. She swayed back and forth to the music, but didn't appear to be taking anything in. When we looked over at her a few songs later, her boyfriend was repeatedly slapping her ass to the beat and she didn't appear to notice.
Things livened up with "Family Tree," when a trippy series of neon-colored crosses and naked women flashed on the screen. Unfortunately, Caleb's emotionless face was projected in the center. During "Closer," Matthew played with his lips pressed against his guitar strings, still somehow managing to look as bored as ever, as sperm-like Gumby creatures swayed back and forth on the screen.
After "The Immortals," Caleb threw his guitar pick into the crowd, sparking the first of many mad dashes to find a tiny plastic triangle."You guys are so much better than last night's crowd," he slurred into the mic before incoherently mumbling for a few seconds.