Last week my girls and I went to see Imagine Dragons at the XFinity Center down in Mansfield, MA. It was their first concert and all week leading up to it they were ridiculously excited. I'll admit that I was equally as excited, maybe more so, both to see live music and to share it with them. The show was on Wednesday night which happened to be their last day of school so it was the perfect way for us to celebrate. Fortunately for them, I ponied up for seats because I'm too old to sit on the lawn and because I'm too old to have to deal with those who choose to sit on the lawn. Not that I'm judging. I was a lawn goer many years ago. But, I'll leave that for another time. As far as "mom moments" go, this night was easily one of my favorites. Initially, I wanted Grace, my younger daughter, to write this post because out of the three of us she was by far the most moved by the whole experience. I tried to spin it as something cool she could do, maybe together with me; as an opportunity to tell her side of the story. Yea, no. She's got way more important things going on like going downtown with her BFF to get TicTacs from CVS. It's fair. She's 11. So, I'll do my best to break it down for you from my end. Here's how our night played out...
And we're off. The show started at 7:00 and it would take us at least an hour to get down there. Grace Vanderwaal was the opening act and we didn't want to miss it. We figured we had plenty of time in leaving at 5:00. We put some tunes on and settled in.
Well, we were sort of off. We rolled right into stop and go traffic the minute we got onto the highway. Definitely a bummer but no surprise leaving Boston at 5:00. It was fine, we were still giddy. At that point, Grace had my phone and decided she was going to document the evening while also keeping herself entertained.
We arrived around 6:30 along with the other ten million people going to see Imagine Dragons with us. WHAT?! For real. It was total madness. There was a snake line of cars for miles. Think 'Field of Dreams'. We finally parked and then walked a solid 10 minutes to the front gate. Both girls were starving once we got in so we assessed the food situation, eventually landing on hot dogs, hamburgers and popcorn. Super healthy. Very proud of our choices.
At 7:00pm Grace Vanderwaal came on. This gal is 14 years old and she has got some serious pipes. She's definitely got a pop thing going on but she also has this husky almost folksy voice which is a unique combo and sets her apart from the T-Swizzles and Arianas of the moment. On top of that, she's just freaking adorable. She crushed it. The girls loved her. I did, too. Keep an eye on this one.
As we waited for Imagine Dragons to come on my Grace, once again, got a hold of my phone. We had way to much fun taking dumb pictures of ourselves. When I looked back, there were at least 20 of them on my phone. I spared you and just shared some of our best or worst, depending on how you look at it. Yes, we are dorks. But it did help us pass the time.
Right before things started Grace said, "It's weird, Mom. I thought it would be crazier than this. I didn't think people would be sitting down and things would be this mellow." I told her to just sit tight. That the scene would be changing very soon. Then, as soon as the lights went down and the band came right out with Radioactive at full volume, I looked over to see Grace making the above "EEK" face. I don't usually go to these big shows anymore and forgot how loud they are. Tack on the fact that this was her first rodeo and the impact was doubled. I think she was in a state of shock for the first couple songs but she finally adjusted. Rosie, on the other hand, had no issues at all and immediately found her groove. Cool as a cucumber, that kid.
For some of their mellow songs the fans would lift their phones for the lighter effect which is now what people do given that actual lighters are no longer allowed inside. Grace asked if she could use my phone to join in. Of course I gave it to her. I can't lie, the scene was so damn cool.
To be honest, I am not a huge Imagine Dragons fan. Or, at least, I wasn't before this. I like them, but it was the girls' choice. I didn't really care as I was just happy to treat them and obviously wanted their first experience to be with a band that they were fired up about. But, man, did these guys put on a show. Lead singer, Dan Reynolds, has this incredible charisma that ropes you in from the second he steps on stage. He's magnetic and when he sings he's able to make it personal despite the fact that he is singing to thousands and that, at least in our case, he was like a mile away. He is so clearly thrilled to be out there doing what he loves that it's hard to take your eyes of him. Hailing from Nevada, the band has a classic 'rock' vibe with a little bit of punk mixed in. What was cool when I looked around was to see the make up of the audience which varied from kids to teens to thirty somethings and beyond. There is no question that they have a mass appeal, but there is something simple and beautiful in that. They just put it out there and you can take it for what it is. Rosie and Grace didn't know half of the songs. They didn't care. They were totally mesmerized. It was amazing to watch their reactions which were just so raw and real.
Something worth noting. The tour is centered around their latest album entitled Evolve. Throughout the performance, Reynolds spoke openly to the audience about his battle with depression and how he recently sought out help while encouraging others who struggle to do the same. They were powerful words to hear during a time when things in our country are somewhat unpredictable and unstable and I know the girls were not only listening but also understanding and digesting all of it. Never in my 43 years have I been to a show where an artist has exposed himself like Reynolds did and I was floored by his openness and honesty and moved by his message which was that those who struggle are not broken they just need to get help. You can read more about his story here.
Around 10:00pm I got the sense that the girls were starting to fade. No doubt it had been a long day for them and the stimulation from the show alone was doubling their level of exhaustion. I told them I was ready to go whenever they were. They'd say, "let's see what this one last song is and we'll go after that," which made me smile because I often find myself doing the same thing when I'm at a show. I also smiled because it was so clearly hard for them to pull themselves away. Despite how tired they were, they just didn't want to miss out. I know that feeling well, too. We ended up staying until the last song and left during the middle of it so we could beat some of the traffic. Did we buy shirts on our way out? Yes we did. Were they stupidly expensive? Yes, they were. But, I wanted the girls to hold on to this for as long as they can. I still remember my first show. I remember the feeling of it, the scene, the noise, all of it. I was as young as them and I don't even think I liked the band but it didn't matter. Something magical happened and my world was forever changed. I know the same thing happened for Rosie and Grace. I watched it unfold, the shift almost tangible. Music is so incredibly powerful and to share it with them was...well...it's almost impossible to put it into words. But hopefully you get it. Go see live music. With your kids, with your friends, with your significant other. There is nothing like it. Nothing.
Listen to this:
Believer - Imagine Dragons