Imagine Dragons is the most famous band from Vegas co-headlining tonight’s first night of Life Is Beautiful festival downtown.
Imagine Dragons rose to fame with the debut album “Night Visions,” the single “It’s Time” and this year’s anthemic-hit “Radioactive.”
The last time I talked with the band’s singer and writer, Dan Reynolds, he told me he grew up in Vegas listening to “a strange collection of music.”
“I’m a child of the ’90s, so I listened to a lot of old hip-hop and new hip-hop. I love the ’80s. I love a lot of dubstep now and edgier indie stuff.”
Reynolds said you can hear hip-hop influences buried in the band’s big drum beats.
“It’s why we worked with producer Alex da Kid, who did Eminem and Rihanna,” Reynolds said.
“I just love percussive music,” he said.
You can tell, by listening to those stadium-esque thumps in “Radioactive.”
“The first instrument I played was drums,” he said. “I took drum lessons for three years. That’s what I played in garage bands growing up.”
Another influence on Reynolds was a pop band I used to defend against fellow music snobs 13 years ago: Third Eye Blind, which for one album mastered the art of singing the chorus in the first five seconds of a hit.
“Dude, I love Third Eye Blind,” Reynolds said. “The first song I learned on guitar was ‘Jumper.’”
That’s the one that starts, “I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend.”
“We played a festival where we got to open for them,” Reynolds said, “and the singer, Stephan (Jenkins), came up to me afterward and said he enjoyed our set, and he invited us on stage to sing ‘Jumper’ with them. Which was really surreal for me.”
Imagine Dragons is scheduled to perform at 6:45 on the main stage, after Alabama Shakes but before Beck and Kings of Leon.
The band shows no sign of losing popular or creative steam. Reynolds vowed he will never let fame go to his head
“It’s easy as an artist to get so caught up with how busy things are that you don’t get a moment to step back” and find gratitude in everything, he said.
“Every little thing, I’m just trying to appreciate it, because you never know when it’s gone.”
Alice in Chains rocks the Palms’ Pearl tonight.
I just asked guitarist Jerry Cantrell if he’s cool with people playing air guitar in front of him at shows. But he reminded me air guitar is dead in public.
“You don’t see that a whole lot. Air guitar is something you catch people doing when you meet them one-on-one, or in a small group,” Cantrell said.
“You still see people crowd surfing from time to time, but mostly what you see is everybody holding up their iPhone and recording it.”
Oh right. America is self-hypnotized by instant nostalgia for itself.
How could I forget?
Doug Elfman’s column appears on Page 3A in the main section on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.