"This is the fourth time we’ve played here this summer. The first time was in front of 200 people. … To see this many people here today, it’s overwhelming. We can’t tell you what it means to us."
This introduction to "Cha-Ching (Til We Grow Older)" by Imagine Dragons front man Dan Reynolds to a capacity crowd of nearly 20,000 – if not more – around the Miller Lite Oasis on Saturday night at Summerfest was an acknowledgement of not only the burgeoning popularity of the band, but a nod to Milwaukee as the city has consistently given its Las Vegas-based members its biggest crowds.
When the band last visited the city in March they sold out The Rave, which was – at the time – their biggest audience. It was such a show of support Reynolds’ emotion was palpable.
This crowd at Henry Maier Festival Park – again one of the largest the group has ever played before – moved the band equally.
After touring Europe and Asia, Imagine Dragons returned to the states and played in Missouri last night, but the size of the crowd energized the band so much so that after an enthusiastic opening of "Round and Round" Reynolds told the crowd, "This is the first time I’ve ever broken the head of my drum on the first song."
Reynolds addressed the fans and the city on several occasions leading into songs, and it took him a few beats to finally be able to begin the encore of "Nothing Left to Say."
Touring off their first studio release "Night Visions," jammed more than in their spring show, taking time for drum combinations between songs.
They played 13 songs, all off "Night Visions" or an earlier extended play release.
On tour they have performed several covers and other EP songs, but those were left on the road in favor of additional musicianship. If Reynolds didn’t acknowledge the crowd, the band teased it with instrumentals before grooving into the familiar intro to a song.
The baiting worked, revving the crowd up often, especially into a frenzied final three songs.
Following the somber dedication of "Thirty Lives" to their friend Tyler Robinson – a song which Reynolds carried with just the accompaniment of a solo guitar – the band transitioned into the hit "Demons."
The band picked the crowd up with "Underdog" afterward, which ended with another percussion-led instrumental. That built into "On Top of The World," which seemingly took the crowd’s energy level it couldn’t surpass.
That is until another slow percussion built into "Radioactive," at which point the crowd exploded. After Reynolds’ final vocals every member of the band got onto a drum, eventually slowing it down to a haunting rhythm, then building again to an additional chorus that led into a triumphant walk-off.
If the band was tired from the recent travel, they didn’t let on. Reynolds hopped around in jeans and black boots. His vocals were strong, and he went all-out on his drum parts.
He also couldn’t keep himself out of the pit in front of the stage, hopping onto the guard rail and leaning into the crowd on several occasions. He also worked the long arms of the Oasis stage, as did Wayne Sermon (guitar) and Ben McKee (bass). Reynolds also leaned on the crowd to sing the chorus to "It’s Time."
Round and Round
Cha-Ching (Til We Grow Older)
On Top of The World
Nothing Left to Say
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.