1. The band gave much hometown love to Las Vegas, with lead singer Dan Reynolds talking about how shows at Beauty Bar and the Bunkhouse helped make the Dragons who they are.
My history with ID goes back to a Beauty Bar gig when they were clearly the next Vegas band ready to hit a major label. Their performance, sound and following made it almost inevitable. Back then, they were an indie-rock band. My next ID chapter came after they were signed and were about to release Night Visions. They played a homecoming show at the Hard Rock Cafe on the Strip and had emphatically become a pop-rock group. I was not a fan of the change of sound, but what turned me off so much more that night was that everything they did felt calculated and rehearsed to curry the crowd’s favor.
Now that they’re global megastars, there’s no doubt they are strictly a pop outfit. But it’s refreshing to see them confident enough to strip away some schlock and be themselves …for the most part.
2. The band pulled a genuinely cool move by having a stage filled with Elvis impersonators dance with them, a nice nod to Vegas’ past. Shortly after that, however, their stage crew released large confetti-filled balloons that the band popped on themselves with drumsticks, showering themselves in confetti. Why not just put a sign on the big screen that says, “Please clap for us”?
3. Clearly, the Dragons are beloved in Las Vegas. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the Joint that packed, certainly not at any other point in 2013. Reynolds announced that the band will be locals forever, having just bought a house in the Valley. Adding to the delight of fans, he exclaimed that said house has a recording studio and that band’s New Year’s resolution is to record a new record there in the upcoming year.
4. In honor of the “six-hour casino gigs” they used to play, which they said were filled with half originals, half covers, ID played a karaoke-fied version of U2’s “With or Without You,” complete with multiple choruses (and minus some verses).
5. It’s possible that “Radioactive” was the most popular song on radio this year. It’s also a definite live showpiece, with four of the five members banging away at different drums. (Side note: the Dragons should really paint themselves blue when they do this). It was the most bombastic number and easily the crowd favorite of the night. Closing with it makes sense, but getting the audience that frenzied only to come back for a one-song encore and play a drawn out, underwhelming “Nothing Left to Say” took away from the effort the band put into its 90-minute set. Sometimes less is more. You only need to see a few confetti-filled balloons popped to know that.