Scoot: Imagine Dragons represents all that is good about today’s music

Scoot
August 06, 2018 - 11:20 am

Through my career as a morning radio personality on music stations and now as host of a radio talk show, I have interviewed countless artist and attended amazing concerts.  At the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, the Imagine Dragons’ concert was one of the best and most unique concerts I have ever experienced.  The concert was not just a concert - it was an “experience.”

The concert was part of the Imagine Dragons’ “Evolve World Tour” and there were signs of the honestly that is part of frontman Dan Reynolds.  Baring his chest (showing how much he’s been working out) was just the beginning sign that he would bare his soul through the concert.  Reynolds’ on-stage persona was very personable to a packed area, and the crowd became background singers for the entire concert.  At times, Reynolds let the crowd sing the lead.

The band did not do an encore; and after the last song, “Believer,” members Dany Reynolds, Wayne Sermon, Ben McKee and Dan Platzman simply walked to the center of the stage and took several bows to the cheers of the crowd with their arms around each other.  Encores have become so calculated that bands save their biggest hit or hits for the encore.  By not having an encore, Imagine Dragons ended the show honestly without the phony staging of an encore.

The demographics were broad from teenagers to parents with preteens and even kids who appeared to be as young as three to Gen X, Gen Y, Millennials and even Boomers.  Imagine Dragons represents all that is good about much of today’s music.  I am quick to criticize Baby Boomers for their parroting of the line that “today’s music sucks.”  Like with the rock music Boomers grew up with, much of today’s music carries a meaningful, positive message about the world and paints an optimistic path the the future for younger generations - but also Boomers.

My opinion of Imagine Dragons’ frontman, Dan Reynolds, was extremely high going into the concert last night.  A few months ago, I watched the HBO documentary, “Believer,” which focused on his life as a Mormon and his growing conflict with church policies against LGBTQ rights. 

Reynolds is one of music’s more interesting stars because of the conflict between his faith and his fight for equality.  It is rare when “Mormon” and “rock star” are used to describe the one person.  Reynolds was born in Las Vegas and shares the conflict between faith and rock with the very talented Brandon Flowers, lead singer of The Killers. Flowers was also born in the sin and debauchery that is part of Las Vegas.

Motivated to do something about the high teen suicide rate among young Mormons who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer, Reynolds has launched a crusade to fight for change in the Mormon church’s policies toward the LGBTQ community.  The HBO documentary included a touching conversation between Reynolds and Tyler Glenn, lead singer of the alt group Neon Trees.  Glenn, too, was raised Mormon and is gay. 

HBO’s “Believer,” which is also the title of one of Imagine Dragons’ biggest hits and the last song they played at the concert last night, brought to life the struggle many rock artist have with reconciling their upbringing with their present understanding of inequality.  Both Reynolds and Glenn make a compelling case for condemning the conflict many religions have with LGBTQ equality.

After the opening song, last night in New Orleans, Dan Reynolds talked to the audience going into the second song in the set, “It’s Time.”  Before the song, Reynolds told the audience that this concert was “no place for judgment” and that we are all one.  This was an obvious reference to Reynolds’ campaign for LGBTQ equality and the crowd loved the message.

During their performance of their mega hit, “Demons,” Reynolds broke up the song with another message to the audience as the music continued under his words.  Reynolds talked about the demons we all face and admitted that he was diagnosed with depression.  He urged the audience to “speak openly and honestly” about depression and anxiety and doing so “does not make you weak - it does not make you broken - there are people here tonight” who are suffering and “I know the numbness, and it gets better and never take your life from us.”  Reynolds also instilled in the crowd a responsibility to speak up about anyone they know who shows signs of depression. 

Popular artists in the rock genre, especially with an older generation quick to harshly judge the music and the ways of the alt rock crowd, do not often represent many of the truly wholesome and responsible aspects of life.  Rare are the moments when a rock genre artist stands up, bearing his inner self for the selfless purpose of helping people who are struggling in today’s world.

Imagine Dragons closed the show with “Believer,” and that seemed the perfect ending to a rock concert that carried a positive message about hope, treating each other fairly and never being ashamed of the pain in your life.  In “Believer,” Reynolds is singing about how his growth as a person and a rock artist is the result of the pain he has suffered.  “Broken from a young age - taking my soul into the masses,” Reynolds laments about the impact his career has had on him - as a person.

Here is the chorus of “Believer:”

Pain!

You made me a, you make me a believer, believer

Pain!

You break me down, you build me up, believer, believer

Pain!

I let the bullets fly, oh let them rain

My luck, my love, my God, they came from

Pain!

You made me a , you made me a believer, believer.

Anyone who “experienced” the Imagine Dragons’ “Evolve World Tour” should be a believer that we do have the power to overcome the challenges life presents us with. 

I applaud Dan Reynolds for representing the music of a young generation that is too often condemned for seeming hopeless and negative.  And regardless of where you are in your life, the message from Imagine Dragons applies to you, too.

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