Being the true showmen that they are, Imagine Dragons make their encore equally as special as their set closer “Radioactive” with a frenzied ending that features Wayne “Wing” Sermon leading the band into the ultimate trash can ending that finally tells the audience it is time to go home. It is fitting that the name of the encore tune is “Nothing Left to Say” which was most likely planned and properly arranged to close the show along with a final moment to accept the applause and finish the conversation they started a mere 90 minutes ago by taking a bow and bailing out on the audience by walking off stage without turning back around – a true rock n roll ending to an incredible concert that engaged, captured and definitely changed the lives of the those in attendance.
For the set closer “Radioactive” the band once again does an excellent job assuring the audience is fully with them before starting the song with a musical interlude and vocal repetition of the recognizable opening hook. They know that the last song of the set needs to be bigger and more awesome than any of the songs to come before it and use this opportunity to create their biggest moments yet with the help of all the drums on stage that up to this point have not been fully used by all members of the band at the same time. Just as they started, front man Dan Reynolds make sure the entire room is fully with the band by working the back and side areas aggressively before slipping into the final moments of the night.
The use of the dramatic pause before going into the musical bridge and drum solo of the song also assures the audience is completely ready for what comes next and by screaming “Atlanta” Dan leaves no fan behind to experience the biggest and most musical moment of the evening – a full band drum jam lasting well over a minute and building into such a frenzy that the band automatically assures themselves a deafening response and an audience eager for an encore. Just when you think it can’t get anymore intense a final dramatic stop before going int the final chorus floors the audience and an even bigger drum jam ends the night with a perfectly executed cut off from the front man as he faces the audience shouting “Radioactive” one last time before the stage goes dark.
It’s important to notice that in the final moments of the show the lights are brighter and bigger than any moment before hand, all the stage props are going off in unison and the main three members are putting serious pressure on the audience by being at the front of the stage assuring no one goes home without a horse voice.
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In the 14th song of the set, “On Top of the World” the band is making it clear that the end of the show is near and now is the time for the audience to get their last kicks by introducing the second and more interactive fun moment of the show. Even by just watching the video compared to part 6 you can see the energy in the room has steadily increased preparing the audience for the most anticipated song of the night – their biggest hit “Radioactive” is sure to come next.
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Imagine Dragons do an excellent job bringing the audience out of the lull of the touching moment they created with “30 Lives” while providing yet another different musical moment by letting bass player Ben McKee take a moment to shine. Ben slowly raises the pressure in the room to get the audience back into full cheer mode. At the end of his bass solo he teases the melody of “Demons” so audience is fully prepared to sing sing along with front man Dan Reynolds without the band even asking for a sing along. Their approach to the arrangement of this song also helps to assure an unwarranted sing along and allows the audience to be fully engaged in the song from the start.
At this point in the show, 13 songs in, Imagine Dragons also look to their media usage to engage the crowd at a point where people, like my kids, are getting tired. By showing crowd shots of fans watching and recording with their phones, they allow yet another opportunity for the audience to focus on something different assuring the crowd is not bored by the same old thing. This show is expertly crafted from start to finish and exemplifies why all live performing acts should have a live music producer or performance coach helping them with their live show similar to how any great band knows they need a producer in the studio to attain greatness.
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After delivering an energetic and fun moment with the cover “Tom Sawyer” the band does an excellent job delivering a touching moment with their ballad “30 Lives” where the audience knows to stop, listen and join in with the moment by busting out their mobile phone flashlights. Everyone in the audience keeps quiet, listens and enjoys the spectacle of lights. Notice how the audience reaction is much more subdued than any other songs played up until this point, this is done by design. To get the audience to chill even more Dan could of and debatebly should have sat down to sing this song using a stool, road case or edge of the stage to bring the energy levels down even more. This gives the audience a chance to relax, rest their ears, change their focus and allows the band to change the pressure in the room while preparing the crowd to get even more rowdy for the last songs of the show.
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Part of loving your audience is having a discourse with them. The way an audience communicates with the artist is usually through applause and cheers. Similar to interrupting someone in mid conversation, stopping your audience from cheering by saying thanks or talking over their applause is equally rude. Dan Reynolds properly waits for the crowd applause to start dying down before talking to them. He then creates a special engaging moment by singing an impromptu acapella version of “My Fault” making everyone in the room believe they are experiencing a spontaneous and special moment. And then to turn the audience on their ear, Imagine Dragons provides their first fun musical moment with a cover of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” including expert guitar playing from Wayne “Wing” Sermon. Finishing the song with a huge trash can ending only increases the fun and assures an even greater response from the crowd before readying them for a chill moment with the upcoming tune “30 Lives” where the band will want the audience to listen more than watch.
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“Amsterdamn” is the 8th song and a perfect time in an extended set to change things up by presenting a different musical moment. Instead of starting with the way the song was recorded, Wayne “Wing” Sermon assures the crowd has not checked out to the same old thing by providing an extended guitar solo where he continues to put pressure on the audience by building dynamics and waiting for them to respond with optimal cheering before starting the song. It is important for any artist at any level in front of any sized crowd to make sure the audience is completely with you before moving ahead. If you are reading your audience correctly you will keep your authority and know when to start the song.
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“It’s Time” was the third song of the set and a moment for a great song. Knowing the audience is with them, font man Dan Reynolds is reading his audience well and knows they are completely with him so he further engages the audience with a sing a long. For most artists dating their audience, this may be too early in the set to ask this much involvement from the crowd, but when you married to your audience like any platinum selling artist you can push your audience faster to engage harder. This song also exemplifies working an area before moving onto another section of the audience, as well as how to move properly across the stage letting the song be your script – notice how he walks rather runs or skips. Finally the band does a great job of putting pressure on the audience to sing along by having all members at the front of the stage working their respective areas.
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For the first song of their set “Fallen” notice how Imagine Dragons immediately establish authority and begin to engage the crowd with each member working an area of the arena by spreading out across the stage and connecting with audience members through one-on-one and zone communications. It is important to remember that in a large venue to start engaging those in the back first – by default being farthest away these audience members are least engaged and it is your job to make sure they are with you from the start. Front man Dan Reynolds does a great job of reaching out to the upper tiers while lead guitarist Wayne “Wing” Sermon uses far stage right (one of the two most dramatic places on stage) to make sure the entire arena is with them from the start of the show.
Most acts do not have multiple hits on one record and most indie and DIY artists are dating their audience where Imagine Dragons are married to theirs leaving them plenty of options for an opening song that the crowd is sure to follow, yet they choose a radio hit that is familiar and easy for the crowd to follow and enjoy. The first song of your set should follow suit.
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Bram demonstrates how your stage performance affects the audience by working with an artist in front of a live crowd. Bram first has the artist perform their song as they typically plays it live, and then works with the artist in front of the audience to transform the song and have them perform it again to a completely different crowd response. This makeover features singer songwriter Josh Rusher performing his original “Bad Guy” from a SESAC Atlanta Tempo Tuesday featuring Bram on 11/12/13 and focuses on how a story and dynamics can capture and engage your audience, the problem with playing guitar solos while performing alone and using the stage to command authority and lead your audience.