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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisFrom 2012 through today, Imagine Dragons have pretty much monopolized the modern rock airwaves with more than 24 million tracks sold and the nearly four times platinum debut "Night Visions." Now that the group dropped its highly awaited follow-up "Smoke + Mirrors" (Interscope Records), that trajectory continued on both the charts and in terms of concert ticket sales, as evidenced by another Live Nation-produced visit to the Allstate Arena (filled to capacity on a Monday night, even with the Chicago Blackhawks vying for the Stanley Cup and flash flooding blocking numerous roads).
Much of the Las Vegas-based band's appeal comes from its effortless ability to merge alternative rock and dance pop at its most utterly infectious and epic, all of which was amply displayed throughout nearly 100 minutes split between both projects. Having a monstrous strobe show, periodic lasers and shifting projection towers surely helped fuel the energy, though regardless of all the technological touches, front man Dan Reynolds, guitarist Daniel Wayne Sermon, bassist Ben McKee and drummer Daniel Platzman are all seasoned musicians refined by tireless independent touring prior to leaping to the big leagues.
Like Coldplay, OneRepublic, Fall Out Boy, Maroon 5 or even Muse at moments, Imagine Dragons demonstrated time and time again it possesses all the key ingredients to connect with the masses, while leaving just enough room for members' own artistic explorations and eclectic combinations. Rather than merely copying the formula of the first round, "Smoke + Mirrors" songs took on vibrant personalities of their own, from the electronic-spiked bounce of "Shots," to the percussion stomper "Polaroid," the joyfully schizophrenic "Friction" and the sublime finale "The Fall."
In between, the guys made sure to deliver all the key "Night Visions" cuts (met with additional levels of audience assistance), including a super-charged "It's Time," the celebratory "On Top Of The World" (timed perfectly to coincide with the Hawks' victory), the survival-themed power ballad "Demons" and what's likely to be Imagine Dragons' most enduring all out rock anthem "Radioactive." When a group is this relentlessly catchy and has the ability to command a stage almost equally with both past and present material alike, the odds are in its favor to rise above the rest and keep settling snuggly into those arena-filling shoes.
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