The greatest artists in rock history have spread their seeds in more ways than one. In the last five decades, consider all the musical offspring (we’re talking bands, not actual progeny) spawned by such luminaries as the Beatles, Stones, Dylan and Zeppelin.
In recent years, it appears that Coldplay has claimed its own branch of rock’s genealogy tree—and it continues to bear fruit, inspiring the likes of Snow Patrol, The Fray and, as evidenced by Friday night’s concert at Sunset Cove Amphitheater, Imagine Dragons.
It’s far too early to know whether the Las Vegas-based band—lead singer Dan Reynolds, bassist Ben McKee, guitarist Wayne Sermon and drummer Dan Platzman—will stick around long enough to take root and bear some fruit of its own. However, in an era where getting anyone to notice you is half the rock battle, the Dragons are having a moment for which most bands these days would give their Les Paul whammy bar.
In early 2012, the Dragons released an EP, “Continued Silence,” followed seven months later by their first full studio album, “Night Visions,” on Interscope Records. The album would top the alternative and rock charts at Billboard, which listed the band as one of last year’s “Brightest New Stars.”
Along the way, the Dragons would score with two singles—“It’s Time” and “Radioactive”—that were propelled by creative videos that, to date, have drawn more than 55.4 million views combined (and counting) on YouTube. (It also didn’t hurt that “It’s Time” reached prime-time audiences with a rendition on “Glee.”)
Reynolds told the crowd of about 4,000 in west Boca that, after kicking around for the past four years, “it was surreal [for the band] to see so many people” at Friday’s show.
“We weren’t even sure [South Florida] knew who we were,” Reynolds quipped.
Of course, unless you’re the Sex Pistols, one studio album does not make a career. If the Dragons plan on sticking around for the long haul, they’d be wise to play to their strengths—and pace their shows accordingly.
The Coldplay influence, most evident during the opening three songs at Sunset Cove (which, by the way, is a terrific place to see an intimate outdoor show), is Imagine Dragons’ wheelhouse. “Round and Round,” “Amsterdam,” and “Tiptoe” are the kind of momentum-building, anthem-esque numbers that showcase Reynolds—who has a little of The Cure’s Robert Smith in his vocals—and the band at their best. Sermon had his own moments on the axe, but you get the feeling that the Dragons have yet to really turn him loose, musically. It would have been nice to see more of Sermon and less of the band’s Taiko drum playing, which, for Boca/Delray fans, must have seemed straight out of the Morikami’s annual Hatsume Fair.
Curiously, after the crowd-pleasing “Radioactive,” the show began to lose steam down the stretch. The closing-set version of “It’s Time,” which should have been the pre-encore exclamation point, felt more like bad karaoke, with Reynolds mailing it in instead of taking the audience for a ride. If the Dragons already are tired of playing “It’s Time,” how are they going to feel five years and 300 performances from now?
It takes stamina, among other things, to perform at the highest levels of rock. Only time will tell if the Dragons have what it takes to last.
Round and Round
Cha-Ching (Till We Grow Older)
Stand By Me
Hang Me Up to Dry
On Top of the World
Nothing Left to Say