Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Kings of the World

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus...but I can't give her identity away. Let's just say that miracles do happen, and one such thing occurred to me tonight.

The summer concert season officially kicked off tonight at PNC Pavilion, the baby brother amphitheatre of Riverbend Music Center. The 4100 or so seated pavilion opened last year, although, I never made it to a show there last year. I have no idea why either.

There's something different about the experience you get in this smaller pavilion. Maybe it's how you feel very close to the stage, even when you're standing at the very back. Maybe it's how the upper deck of the pavilion is on more of an incline, giving you an enclosed feeling, like you're watching the show in an arena. But the sound definitely does not sound as if you're in an arena.

Or maybe it's because I had a seat in the second row - much thanks and appreciation to this certain someone who came through for me at the last minute. Whatever it was, I liked it, and I guess I now owe this person my soul, which I earlier said I'd sell for a ticket. My soul is all yours - the show was worth the price I have to pay. No, but seriously, I'll get a hold of you and we'll work something out.

Maybe it's all these things - and a lot more. Maybe it's because the band who kicked off the summer season in Cincinnati, are a bunch of guys who have been called the next great American rock gods. I'm talking about Kings of Leon. There couldn't have been a better band to start off the summer concert season.

But the first band to take the stage was the New York indie-rock band, The Walkmen. If you know about concerts at Riverbend, then you know that for the most part, a lot of people could give two shits about the opening bands. Not me. I welcome any band to play anywhere at anytime.

I've only been going to shows at Riverbend for twelve years, which I guess is alright considering I'm 28 years old. But I've seen a lot of shows in my time, as well as many a drunken, messed up summer night spent down by the river. I've come to the realization that about half the ticket holders don't show up to their seats until the main act takes the stage.

While that yet again appeared to be the case tonight, things did manage to take a turn for the better.

When The Walkmen first took the stage, you could tell that a decent amount of people were also there to see them as well as the Kings, but it was a sold out show and the half empty venue was rather disappointing at first. I'm sure they had some longtime, dedicated fans in attendance, as they've become a popular act around here at smaller venues like the Southgate House, but I'm very positive that they left with a bunch of new fans. That's when things changed.

Halfway through their set, the crowd started to fill in, partly due to the wailing vocals of frontman Hamilton Leithauser. I'd never seen them before, or even listened to them for that matter, but I have heard of them, and I am now a new fan of this band. After they finished their set, it was nice to see this band get the respect and cheers that they worked hard to deserve.

Kings of Leon (the Followill boys - three brothers - Caleb, Nathan and Jared - and cousin Matthew) walked out onstage to an energetic, standing ovation - one of the loudest I've seen in awhile, at any show. They also left to a standing ovation, which you probably could've guessed, however, the one after the show was longer, louder and more energetic, which I'm sure you also assumed.

Everything about this show cried that the Kings of Leon are truly kings. The loud music, their stage presence, the lights and fog, the alcohol and cigarettes, the hot girls, even the crowd atmosphere.

When frontman and lead vocalist Caleb Followill first found his place on stage, he turned his back to the crowd, raising his arms just like a true rock star would do. The band immediately kicked it into full gear, with the reverb soaked guitars and pounding drums of "Crawl", off of their latest, Only By the Night.

A third of their set came from that album in particular, although, they had a very nice mix of songs from their other two previous studio efforts. Noted performances from the Only By the Night disc also included "Be Somebody", "Sex on Fire", "Notion", "Use Somebody" and the first song of the encore, "Closer."

Eleven of the twenty-one song set, came from the other two previous albums, Because of the Times and Aha Shake Heartbreak. Noted tracks from the former included, well, all of them, but two were featured in the five song encore, "Knocked Up", while they ended the hour-and-a-half or so show with "Black Thumbnail."

From the latter of those two albums, noted tracks included, again, all of them, but I'll just say that they ended their regular set before the encore with "Slow Night, So Long."

They also managed to bring in one track, "Molly's Chambers", from their debut album Youth and Young Manhood, as well as a new song, played in the encore, "Lucyfur."

Kings of Leon are currently planning on releasing their fifth disc in 2010.

Here's the setlist:

Taper Jean Girl
My Party
Be Somebody
Molly's Chambers
Four Kicks
Sex on Fire
The Bucket
On Call
Cold Desert
Use Somebody
Slow Night, So Long


Knocked Up
Black Thumbnail

I found this video on YouTube from the show. Check it out to see their fantastic light show by clicking here.

(Courtesy of GaitherStephens)

No comments: