What a difference a year makes for Imagine Dragons. During the first week of September of 2012 the Las Vegas-based pop-rock band was playing a free outdoor show in Philadelphia with Awolnation. A storm was on the horizon as a naked man danced in the audience to future hits.
“I remember that show vividly,” vocalist Dan Reynolds said while calling from Chicago. “It was so powerful. When we hit the stage it looked like there was going to be this awful downpour. The skies were dark and you could feel tension in the air. But it didn’t rain and it was one of my favorite performances we ever did. The crowd was amazing.”
The crowds are much bigger at Imagine Dragons shows these days. About 500 experienced the gratis concert in Philly. Expect many more fans to experience Imagine Dragons Tuesday at the University of South Florida Sun Dome.
Imagine Dragons, which also includes guitarist Wayne Sermon, bassist Ben McKee and drummer Ben Platzman, has gone from under the radar to the stratosphere in less than a year. “Radioactive” is one of the biggest pop-rock hits of the last dozen months. The catchy cut hit the top spot of Billboards Alternative Songs and Rock Songs charts. The tune has gone triple platinum in America.
“That song means so much to us,” Reynolds said. “We went to another level with it. The fans just embraced it.”
“Night Visions,” the debut album from Imagine Dragons is full of stylish, melancholy and reflective tracks. Few could have guessed that the brooding tunes would connect with the masses.
“But you never know what’s going to happen when you release an album,” Reynolds said. “That’s the beauty of music. It’s so unpredictable.”
Reynolds is a soft-spoken, laid-back Mormon, who is part of a family that has lived in Vegas for three generations. “It’s a special place,” Reynolds said. “People don’t normally see that since they come in for a few days and usually get really drunk. Las Vegas is their party city and then there is how the people who live there look at it. I love the fake Elvis’ and craziness that is Vegas. It really is special city. You have to live there to get it like I do. I’m proud to be a Las Vegan. It’s inspiring for a singer-songwriter. It’s a cool place for music. There are so many up and coming bands from there.”
It wasn’t long ago that Imagine Dragons were one of those up and coming bands. “We did what other bands do in Las Vegas,” Reynolds said. “We played casinos. They let us pick the songs, which was cool. We did songs by U2 and Arcade Fire and had fun with it. We did four nights a week and they gave us $400 for and that was enough money for rent and Taco Bell.”
That didn’t exactly impress his large family. “Some of my brothers are doctors and lawyers,” Reynolds said. “My mom was not crazy about me being in a rock band.”
But it all worked out for Reynolds. “I had to follow my heart,” Reynolds said. “I didn’t want to do something that I wasn’t passionate about. I found what I’m passionate about and it’s working out.”