Apparently concert reviews are all I can manage to put out at the moment, but there you have it.
Kings of Leon capped off my run of spring and summer concerts, playing the Marcus Amphitheater on June 25th and subsequently acting as one of the Summerfest headliners. I was fairly shocked to see that they would be headlining one of the first nights at Summerfest, because they really haven’t put out much new material lately, they barely play shows, and I don’t think they’ve been to Milwaukee in years. All in all, I was just grateful that with the band’s drama and cancelled shows a couple years back, that they didn’t cancel on us.
I got intimately acquainted with Kings of Leon back in 2005 when I worked at a small coffee shop in Minneapolis. My co-worker, Justin, would regularly blare 2004’s Aha Shake Heartbreak over the cafe’s lo-fi system and rock the hell out. I immediately fell in love with the addictive beats and the grinding drawl of Caleb Followill’s vocals. Justin eventually quit showing up for his shifts and allegedly joined a small circus that travelled primarily through the Dakotas, but my love for Kings of Leon lived on.
When Q and I got married in 2009, we chose “Use Somebody” for our first dance tune, as something different and not so slow-dancey. We were unaware that its radio play was going to escalate to “Call Me Maybe” levels right before our wedding, but nonetheless, I think it remains a good choice.
So, when we sat down to a disappointingly not super full amphitheater that Thursday evening, I was stoked. The rain was holding off, my predictably overpriced glass of Prairie Fume was perfectly chilled, and our seats were pretty good. A lot of the Summerfest acts that night were country-based, so I was hopeful that the general crowd would be a little more redneck and less white trash, which is the general Summerfest draw.
I’m not sure exactly what I expected, but the grandiose blaring light show with 2-story background screen projections and meticulously choreographed lighting wasn’t quite it. It wasn’t bad by any means, but I suppose I longed for the time when the Kings played dirty basement shows to a fraction of the crowd and with zero pomp. I’m not sure if they ever did that, but I like to imagine they did. And I like to imagine that I wasn’t in fact, 10 years late to this show.
Nonetheless, it was great to see one of my top five bands in any situation. They played a great variety of songs all across their repertoire and I was familiar with all of them. (Particularly the coolest song with my name in it.) Stage banter was very minimal, but that just left more time for rocking out. The crystalline background projections were expertly matched to the songs and created awesome ambiance. Of course we heard our wedding song also, so Q was quite pleased. Also, the final encore was “Sex on Fire” which I absolutely forgot existed. Who did NOT forget however, was the middle-aged couple two rows in front of us that could NOT keep their hands off each other the whole night. Old lady booty-patting aside, it was an excellent finale to my summer shows.