imagine dragons

On “Underdog,” a track off Imagine Dragons‘ debut album, Night Visions, vocalist Dan Reynolds sings that he loves to be the underdog. Unfortunately for him and the Las Vegas quintet, those times appear to be over.

As evidenced by their sold-out, highly energized and often emotional set at the Great American Music Hall Monday, Imagine Dragons are at the beginning of an explosive career arc that should take from playing Vegas bars and no-name casinos, to – eventually – arenas. Just like another Vegas band, the Killers, these guys have the anthems to carry them there.

Although Reynolds wore a Joy Division shirt with the face of Ian Curtis, Imagine Dragons’ variety of new wave rock carries hopeful messages and has a lusher, crunchier sound more reminiscent of Brandon Flowers’ band. Reynolds even looked the part of Flowers with his steely gaze and by pointing at someone, something with each musical exclamation. He appeared genuinely taken aback and misty-eyed by the reception at the hall on a Monday night.

Imagine Dragons is in a unique position for a newer band with only one album to its name. Because the band has two early legitimate radio hits, it has the flexibility to burn one of them early in the set to drive their fans over the edge.

Video by YouTube user bassinmg88

That’s what Reynolds, guitarist Wayne Sermon, drummer Daniel Platzman and bassist Ben McKee – a Bay Area native – did my diving into “Radioactive” early on. Over Sermon’s blistering guitar solos, Reynolds attacked a tom and classical bass drum at the front of stage and conducted the crowd with a drumstick.

He spent more time than necessary battering the drums over the course of the show because Platzman was more than capable of carrying the beat by himself, but it quickly became apparent the singer needs something to hit to release energy on stage. Drums have truly become the new keyboard for lead singers who don’t play guitar.

The band closed out the main set with “It’s Time,” its other smash, a happy clap-along. But the set had numerous other potential hits in the making. Once those make it onto radio, Imagine Dragons may become a household name.

Oakland’s The Dandelion War, a post-rock quintet, opened the show, and, by the sound of applause, likely picked up a more than a few fans.

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