By: Taylor Morgan
Kings of Leon
Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
On a warm Sunday evening in Irvine, scores of OC fans gather in tank tops and shorts to hoot and holler for Kings of Leon at the Verizon Amphitheatre. After a rousing opening set from hometown heroes Young the Giant, the Tennessee-born quartet assumes their positions onstage and an incendiary guitar begins to echo. Caleb Followill, known for a voice that quakes with soul begins to sing the opening lines of "Taper Jean Girl"– "A-ha shake, taper jean girl with a motel face." A visual backdrop across the stage displays a water molecule moving in slow motion and the massive screens, displayed to approximately 16,000 people quickly alternate between bandmates with signature tight denim and rocker aesthetic.
It's the last night of their eight-month tour of Mechanical Bull, the band's sixth studio album, and they confess to the audience that the energy level is far surprised in OC than it was a few nights ago in LA. The crowd roars and they announce "we are Kings of Leon" as they move on to sing "Fans" and next "Family Tree" a song from their most recent album released in 2013. Women both old and young throw themselves in the air sometimes stopping to steal a kiss from their date when Jared Followill, the band's beautiful bassist and back up vocalist, isn't on the screen. Caleb announces they'll be performing songs they haven't played yet on tour and encourages everyone to sing along. Strands of DNA swirl on the screen and the band performs "The Bucket" and "Closer" the latter being one of the songs that made them famous on their 2008 album Only By The Night. Next up was "California Waiting", "Mary", and "Knocked Up" where a girl with long stilettos stood in a yogi chair pose, stripping down to her sports bra and jeans before security asked her to move her namaste elsewhere. The band was proclaiming "I don't care what nobody says/We're gonna have a baby" after all.
Next up: "Pyro", "True Love Way", "Radioactive" and "Molly's Chamber" as the lifecycle of an orchid is quickly showcased before our eyes on the screens. Couples intimately shared joints as little flickers of red and orange dots moved throughout the venue. The band moved on to perform "Four Kicks", "Don't Matter", "Tonight" and "A Beautiful War" the last two being the strongest and best received tracks, off the recent album. They transitioned to "Cold Desert" and "Use Somebody," a track that peaked at number one on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks causing their album to go Platinum, before performing "Trani," the last song they left the audience with before exiting the stage with the effortless and laid back demeanor that suits their music and their fan-base.
An immovable crowd stood with whistles and praise waiting for their return. As they became more impatient, crowd members began to stomp their feet and clap. Before long a synthesizer shot its electric vibration through the speakers and the Kings had reappeared! They performed "Crawl," "Black Thumbnail," and a "Sex On Fire." A sea of smartphones waved back and forth as snowflakes ejected from the stage over the mosh pit and orchestra. Soon, their picks were flying through the air too and the energized crowd was ushered to their vehicles. This was no ordinary Sunday night in Orange County and how could it be- the Kings of Leon have toured aside U2 and sing about 'Sex On Fire' they know a little something about leaving a crowd hungry for more.
Taper Jean Girl
True Love Way
Sex On Fire