Kings of Leon, Band of Horses
Gexa Energy Pavilion
July 29, 2011
Better than: watching a train wreck.
About three songs into Kings of Leon's set, lead singer Caleb Followill addressed the crowd: "My voice is shot," he said. "My voice is completely, one hundred percent, gone. But I'm going to drink some beer and tequila and have a good time."
Sadly, he did not follow through on such a promise.
Fom the first notes of "Radioactive" (a song that could just as well be titled "U2 Joshua Tree Outtake"), the band followed through on every arena rock cliché known to man. The light show was something akin to the Electric Light Orchestra as songs from the Kings' most recent effort, Come Around Sundown, came across as vacuous as anything this (or that) side of Def Leppard or Aerosmith.
Of course, the crowd ate it up. It was an audience filled to the brim with dudes and their scantily clad accomplices, all liquored up for an evening of easy to digest, remotely entertaining, good old boy shenanigans.
But the evening was over nearly as soon as it started. Caleb Followill kept complaining about being sick. He yelled at his road crew to bring him water. He yelled again for a cold towel. He grimaced his way through songs like "Back Down South" and "No Money" like a petulant child forced to eat his string beans.
Forty minutes into the set, Followill again addressed the massive crowd at Gexa Energy Pavilion. "I'm going to go backstage and vomit and then play three more songs."
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Once again, the dude's words proved to be as empty as the many beer cans left on the venue's vast lawn. Bassist Jared Followill came out about ten minutes later and apologized to the crowd.
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"We're sorry," he said. "Caleb can't sing. Go ahead and burn our records. We are sorry."
And that was that. Fans paying more than 60 bucks a seat were chanting "Kings of Rip Off!" as security hurried patrons towards the parking lot.
It was surreal. It was fucking hot. It was one of the worst shows I've ever seen.
And, OK, it was a little funny, too.
Personal Bias: Look I'm not the biggest Kings of Leon fan. I liked the first couple of records, but still thought these guys have always been treading water. Now they play arena rock and power ballads that would shame the Goo Goo Dolls. There's nothing wrong with making a buck, and it's obvious that there's money to be made at the expense of folks happy with a diet of testosterone and formula. But this isn't that. As a matter of fact, it's not that much at all.
Random Note: Band of Horses opened the show, and they were pretty damn good. Sadly, most of the early arriving crowd was not paying attention until the band's last song. When the first few notes of "The Funeral" echoed into the vastness, several young ladies close to me finally stopped gossiping and said, "Hey, I know this song! It's good!" Yes, it was. As was the rest of Band of Horses' set, especially the opener "The Great Salt Lake." Maybe next time, they should headline.
Bonus Band Apology Video: