Two songs into a set Saturday night at The Rave, Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds paused. He wiped his face, and looked over the sold out crowd that ringed the stage, from the crowded floor to the people standing in the balcony.
"You don’t know how much this means to us," he said.
He stepped away from the mic and dropped his head, his hands catching his knees. Those in the furthest reaches of the venue could see his back rise and fall heavy breaths.
"Thank you," he said after rising. "Thank you for sharing our music."
The band then launched into "Hear Me," an awesome spectacle of vocalization from Reynolds and sharpness from band mates Ben McKee, Wayne Sermon and Dan Platzman. Reynolds climbed the speakers and leaned over the crowd as he hit every note, feeding off the emotional display just moments before.
Reynolds thanked the crowd on several occasions between songs, noting it was the largest crowd they’d ever played for and at one point said "I can’t wait to come back to you already … I hope this is the beginning of a long relationship with Milwaukee."
The band finished with "It’s Time," and as Reynolds held the mic out to the crowd for a sing-along, he looked genuinely astonished at the support and the reaction. He repeatedly tapped his heart and waved, and once the song was finished he ran his hand from the back of his head to the front in pure astonishment.
As the applause built for an encore, Reynolds returned the stage. The lights went up so he could once again see the crowd. He gripped the mic stand and fell into his arms, head buried as the crowd roared.
"Best show on tour," he said once he collected himself. "Best show on tour."
"Nothing Left To Say" was the final song of the night, a proper sendoff to a crowd whose passion helped push the band to a new level - its members told those close to them it was the best show they’d ever put on. It can be difficult for a band to sound clean in the Eagles Ballroom, but the Dragons made that place sing.
Later, the band tweeted the above photo with a simple message to Milwaukee: #speechless.
McKee, Sermon and Platzman returned to the stage to rip the set lists off the floor and tossed them into the crowd, along with whatever drumsticks and guitar picks they had left. The crowd at The Rave, and its passion, had moved the band to tears.
Saturday was the third time Imagine Dragons had played Milwaukee – the first two coming at Rock The Green and Summerfest last year – and the group clearly has made a connection with the city. McKee and Platzman love Spotted Cow, with McKee clutching a six-pack of Wisconsin’s finest following a promotional appearance for FM 102/1 at SPiN Milwaukee as if it were a newborn.
McKee said it deserved the proper treatment – a slow pour into a frosted mug – and when I casually said, "enjoy," he turned with a huge smile and said "Oh, don’t worry about that." He was still raving about it two days later.
I can’t count the number of concerts I’ve seen in Milwaukee over the last seven or so years, covering all genres. Nearly every lead singer or rapper, at some point, has acknowledged the city and the crowd. It’s not that the sentiment isn’t genuine, but it usually comes across as something they have to say. And the crowd reacts accordingly – with a cheer, but devoid of true passion.
Saturday night was different.
When Reynolds broke down after the second song of the night, you could tell he was moved. I get chills now remembering "Hear Me," and the power with which he sang and the crispness in which they played. Reynolds is a great frontman, but you couldn’t fake what was going on with him, and the band, that night.
I don’t doubt that Imagine Dragons will be back to Milwaukee as soon as possible. No matter how big musical acts get, they remember days like Saturday night, when all they’ve got is one full length album but the crowd moves them to dig out another track just to thank them.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Jim Owczarski
Published July 29, 2014
Jimmy Nelson got a taste of the major leagues last summer when he was called up by the Milwaukee Brewers in September. This year, the right-hander was called up before the all-star break to provide a spark in the rotation for a first-place team in a division race. Needless the say, the pressure is a little different. Nelson, however, is trying to stay cool.
Published July 28, 2014
A 20-7 start to the year showed Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin and manager Ron Roenicke how good this current team can be, but with a little under four days away from the non-waiver trade deadline, are they certain how good they will be as the team makes a playoff push?
Published July 25, 2014
There is plenty of great golf to take advantage of in Wisconsin Dells, but Coldwater Canyon - now part of the Chula Vista Resort - is a must play for travelers and residents alike.
Published July 25, 2014
The Green Bay Packers report to training camp today and practice begins tomorrow in the shadow of Lambeau Field. Hopes are high for 2014 -- here's what to watch for over the next month.
Published July 24, 2014
It's been nearly two weeks since the world of Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Jean Segura's world was turned upside down following the death of his infant son. But he missed just two games, and since his return he's looking like the all-star player he was last year.
Published July 23, 2014
Eight years after being drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers and saddled with being one of the moribund franchise's new stars, and four after being traded away, Jeremy Jeffress has found his way home.
Published July 22, 2014
The Milwaukee Brewers beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-2 on Monday and recorded three extra base hits, the sixth time in seven games the team has had at least that many. The offense may not be completely back on track, but signs like that might point to a breakout in the near future.
Published July 21, 2014
For the bulk of the season - 96 of 99 games played heading into tonight's action - the Milwaukee Brewers have enjoyed a share, or solo grip, on first place of the National League Central. The division has caught up however, and this series with Cincinnati could be looked at as the start of a new season altogether.
Published July 19, 2014
"I'm coming home." LeBron James rocked the sports world with those three simple words. It got us thinking - what if all of Wisconsin's baseball players did the same thing? Then we realized, wait, there aren't enough active players left to field a full squad. So, we made an all-time team. Did we get it right?
Published July 18, 2014
The Milwaukee Brewers return from the all-star break tonight in Washington, and the push for the playoffs begins with just 66 games remaining in the regular season. Here are five things to watch for as the Brewers try to reach the postseason for the second time in four years.