I’m not one for huge concerts. There’s a certain intimacy that you get in small to mid-sized venues that leaves arena shows feeling more like miniature festivals or sports events. My comfort zone dwells somewhere near the stage, surrounded by meshing conversations and the lingering scents of beer and cigarette smoke. Assigned seats miles from the stage—who needs them?
There are a couple of rock bands I’ve wanted to see perform since I was in high school, one of them being Kings of Leon. When I heard they were coming to Phoenix for their “Mechanical Bull” album tour, I swiftly handed over my 40 bucks and committed to lawn seats. The last time I settled for lawn seats, I was 17 and seeing Coldplay circa their “Viva La Vida” days. I remember lots of big, yellow, balloon-type things floating over the crowd during “Yellow,” waves of confetti, band members rising from the crowd on a platform and taking cover in my hoodie as it down poured. All in all, it wasn’t a bad time. As for Kings of Leon…
…decent. They performed well enough in the sense that they sounded good and played a variety of songs that satisfied both the diehard fans and recent converts. (Can’t forget that they opened the set with “Charmer”—a bold choice that probably only made me happy.) Other noteworthy picks included “Temple,” “The Bucket,” “Pyro,” and to close, “Sex on Fire.” It wasn’t until I read a pretty scathing concert review on azcentral.com that I realized the problem: no passion. The fire was gone, presumably left in a hotel room, on a plane, or let’s take the assumptions a step further and say, next to a bottle of booze.
Crowd interactions were minimal, spirits low and movement nearly nonexistent. I think the sheer fact that I’m used to being up and close to bands contributed to my dismissal of their shoddy attitudes. Acts like these always seem highly visual, not-so personal and distant. But hey, a Four Peaks Kilt Lifter and Caleb Followill’s raspy voice had me dancing like a dancing machine. (Sorry—had to.)
Big concerts are all right, but they remind me why it’s so important to support local venues: They’re better.
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