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"We're an American Band"
Kings of Leon win over Milwaukee crowd

Kings of Leon
Eagles Ballroom
Milwaukee, WI
Nov. 5, 2008
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Story by Brett W. Taylor
Photos by Joe Hargreaves

The Kings of Leon took the stage on Wednesday night at the Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee with a mission. The mission has grown steadily in the last few years as the band attempts to morph from being a college rock cult act, to becoming a mainstream American rock band.

With the release of their latest album Only By The Night lead vocalist Caleb Followill and his family band have taken this mission one step closer to fruition. Judging by the reaction of the crowd at the Eagles Ballroom - the experiment is working. The near capacity crowd roared and cheered in appreciation for both the bands older more hard rocking songs and welcomed the slicker newer material with as much exuberance. Singing along with the choruses and even some early '90s body surfing thrown in, the Milwaukee crowd was sending the message to the band that they have drank the Kool-Aid. Followill, along with his two brothers (Nathan Followill (drums), Jared Followill (bass guitar/backup vocals/synthesizer) and first cousin Matthew Followill (lead guitar//backup vocals) frenetically worked the crowd with a diverse set that showed the growth that the band has perfected. Leading the crowd in sing-alongs such as the newest single "Need Somebody" illustrated that the opening slot on 2005's U2 tour was an education in working a crowd that they paid attention to.

This has not all come without some criticism from some of the bands hardcore fans. Many feel that the band's direction is taking them in a more mainstream direction and that does not sit well. Oasis' Liam Gallagher publicly bemoaned the band's new slick sound and the cleaned up "sleeveless" new pin up looks. This all didn't matter to the Tennessee quartet on Wednesday night. During a break in the set, the band thanked Milwaukee for being so inspirational to the band; Followill addressed the raucous crowd with some puzzlement, noting that it was great to finally see fans in the United States on board with his band, reminding that they "...are and American band!"

Much of the Kings of Leon's previous success has come from across the Atlantic, with the band selling out arenas and headlining large festivals in England. With Only By The Night debuting at #5 in the States, and guest spots on Saturday Night Live, the band seems grateful that their home audience is now on board. If the Milwaukee crowd was a barometer for this mission, it was certainly accomplished.

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Summerfest 2006 - Festival review - Milwaukee, WI - Jul. 2006
U2 / Kings of Leon - Concert review - Chicago, IL - May 2005
Concert review - Chicago, IL - Mar. 2005

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Kings of Leon
Milwaukee Setlist:
My Party
Molly's Chambers
Taper Jean Girl
King of the Rodeo
Sex on Fire
Four Kicks
The Bucket
Use Somebody
On Call
Cold Desert
Slow Night, So Long

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