Imagine Dragons with The Neighbourhood and X Ambassadors

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bank of America Pavilion, Boston

I always have a tough time seeing shows at Bank of America Pavilion. The venue is just too big for my liking. Even when I’ve had second or third row seats there, I’ve felt too far away from the stage. It’s important for me to see artists’ facial expressions while they perform. Otherwise, I’d rather just save the very long drive and listen to their album at home or in the car. I know that’s abnormal, but there it is.

I am teaching some this summer at Upward Bound at Bowdoin College, so it was a school night for me. I was visiting someone in Portsmouth for a couple of nights, and it was nice not to have to drive all the way back to Maine until the morning after the show. I explored pretty Portsmouth a bit before heading down to the show. I was able to score a single eighth row seat in the presale, so decided to go solo.

Portsmouth, NH is really pretty!

Portsmouth, NH is really pretty!

I grabbed a parking spot in the usual $15 lot near the venue (does anyone have any free parking tips for the waterfront area?!) and grabbed a caprese sandwich from J. Pace & Son before I heard the first strains of Brooklyn’s X Ambassadors as they took the stage promptly at 7:30. The lead singer played percussion and sax and was super excited to be on stage. He said, “We want to meet every last one of you after the show. I mean it!” Their music grew on me pretty quickly. I enjoyed the power and energy of the lead vocalist and their driving, percussive sound. I really liked their last song “I’ll Never Let You Go.” I’d definitely check them out in a smaller venue. They’re coming to Brighton Music Hall on August 9th.

X Ambassadors

X Ambassadors

I’d listened to California’s alt rockers The Neighbourhood online, but didn’t enjoy them very much live. They mentioned that it was the first night of their tour, so maybe they were just working out the kinks. I felt like the songs were all really similar and the banter was awkward and riddled with profanity even though there were obviously a lot of young kids in the crowd. I was amused by the lead singer’s outfit—it was straight out of the 90s. He had on a baggy white t shirt, leather jacket, black ripped jeans, high tops, a backwards baseball cap, and a flannel shirt tied around his waist. It was Eddie Vedder means Joey Tribbiani from Friends. There were three guys on guitar and their sound was power ballad-y in places. I tended to like those songs fine. They also looked very young. I’d be shocked if any of them were 21 years old. There were a lot of young teenagers in the crowd singing every word to every one of their songs, so maybe I’m just too old to “get” The Neighbourhood? They also got a hearty round of applause at the end of their set, so check them out for yourself and see what you think. I knew I was ready for Imagine Dragons quite early on in their set.

The Neighbourhood

The Neighbourhood


I chatted with the two 12-year-old boys sitting next to me during the break between sets. One of them had been to two other concerts before, but the other one was at his first show! How exciting! As per usual, basically the tallest guy of all time got to his seat in front of us when Utah’s Imagine Dragons took the stage, so I moved so the boys could see because their view was completely blocked by him.

I am a fan of this idea!

I am a fan of this idea!

Imagine Dragons made a very theatrical entrance that involved some serious percussion. They had great stage presence and worked the crowd enthusiastically. Frontman Dan Reynolds told us that the other three guys in the band had all gone to Berklee College of Music in Boston, so it was a real treat for them to play in town. Dan was rocking an impressive mullet, too, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Dan spoke a fair amount (which I’m a fan of), and told us, “As cheesy as it sounds, I hope this music frees you tonight. We’re just regular guys so it’s the music that connects us. It’s everything to us. I hope it gets you out of your head. With that, I close with Boston Strong!”  The sold out crowd roared.

Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons

IMG_3540 IMG_3542

I was so glad I didn’t have to wait until the encore to hear “It’s Time.” It’s been my jam for well over a year now and I was pumped to hear it live. They played a song for Tyler Robinson, a fan that they were close with who passed away from cancer at 17, but smiled the whole time he was in treatment. It was a touching tribute and Dan’s falsetto was lovely. They played “Stand By Me” to kill some time while waiting for something to show up or get fixed. We sang along. I noticed that the event staff kept taking young kids from the crowd up to the front row to take a picture in front of the stage, which I thought was really cool.

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The view from the back of the amphitheater

The view from the back of the amphitheater

I really wanted to get back to Portsmouth before it was too late, so I did the unthinkable—I left a show early. It doesn’t happen often and I have mixed feelings about it, but I heard “Bleeding Out” and “Demons,” so felt I’d heard all of the songs live I really needed to. Imagine Dragons had a lot of energy on stage and I’d love to see them someday in a general admission venue where I could get a lot closer to the stage. Eight rows away was too far for me!



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