This Thursday, we piled into Exit/In with the rest of the sold-out crowd to see Kings of Leon with local darlings The Features. As it'd be hard not to know by know, the Kings have received a plethora of national press coverage and are on the eve of a stateside tour with U2. We wanted to see what all the hype was about.
MY: I thought The Features were the best live performers I've seen in awhile. I felt like I was at a bona fide rock show: the crowd around us sang along, and the band was enthusiastic. It was exhilarating.
EO: They seemed so in synch; they recreated every scream on their album. Even from when I saw them a couple months ago, they seemed so much more together and practiced, but still natural.
MY: The drummer, Rollum Haas, is just amazing to watch. He's so fast, and he sort of bounces when he's drumming. That's how the music sounds: bouncy.
EO: The band's energy really surged through the crowd, but for all the people who were singing and clapping along, there were plenty more talking through songs and even making fun of the band.
MY: And what's up with those "Amaretto Sour" girls we always see at shows? You know the kind: they're the ones who get all dolled up and then never pay attention to the music, and they pass by you, like, 18 times just to go to the bar. It was definitely a strange crowd.
EO: Yeah, but I understand why The Features opened for Kings of Leon; they've got a funky Southern edge that meshes well with the Kings' catchiest songs. Still, it made for a weird audience mix. There were the die-hard hipster Features fans, suits from Music Row hanging in the back, the young fresh faces from Mt. Juliet hanging out at the front of the stage like wannabe groupies, and then your garden-variety Skynyrd fan, who's bound to eat up Kings of Leon. I overheard some amazing dialogue; my favorite line was, "I think the problem is American women."
MY: Talk about garden-variety Skynyrdthat just about sums up Kings of Leon. If there was anything beyond bland Southern rock going on here, I couldn't hear it. Caleb Followill, the lead singer, looked like he was totally bored, just spitting out meaningless words. The band definitely made a fashion statement, though.
EO: The cut-up draped-neck T-shirt the guitarist was wearing was the most repulsive fashion statement I've ever seen. If these boys are renowned for their hip style, I'm frightened. Their hair resembled structured layered mullets, though Caleb Followill went for swift undercurls that refused to frizz. Actually, I think that's the reason he remained stiff throughout the show: he was afraid he'd mess up his hair. And the bassist's earring, glistening in the lights during his profile poses, Jeez! The entire band was groomedlike they were playing a garage band in a movie.
MY: Oh, they've got their image down. But that aside, I still don't get why people love their music. The Southern rock thing has been done and done better. I was expecting at least some glimmer of personality.
EO: And no matter how mind-blowing they could have been, nothing would have excused the lead singer casually pulling out his cell phone onstage. What was he doing? Checking the time? Seeing if he had any messages? Did he think he'd make a call or two?
MY: Well, maybe he did have something better to do than play a rock show. Most of the crowd looked bored too. Most of them must have just been curious about the hype. I was.
EO: I was expecting something better. Having heard their first album, Youth and Young Manhood, I can tell you that the catchiest songs of the night were off that record. Otherwise, they all blended together. When he wants to, Caleb Followill has an interesting voiceit has a pulse and grit, especially on the recorded version of "Pistol of Fire." But onstage, the conviction was lost. The song wasn't strained and heartfelt, like I'd imagined it would be.
MY: That's itthere was no conviction. And why should I care about their music if they don't? I was ready to go after the seventh song sounded remarkably like the first six.
EO: It makes you wonder: how are they going to survive opening for U2 night after night?
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