Live Review: Nothing Can Keep the Kings Down

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I like the new Kings of Leon album. City Paper editorial intern Jillian Stephenson, a big fan of the band, wasn't so sure … until catching a gig during the band's recent trip through the South. Here's the report:

On June 1 I had the privilege of seeing the sold out Kings of Leon show at the Tabernacle in Atlanta on Fri. June 1, a stop on their world tour for their new album, Because of the Times.

The opening act, The Features, an up-and-coming band out of the Nashville area, sounded great. They were a cross between rock, psychedelic, and new wave, with a bright future ahead of them.

The second band, Snowden, natives of Atlanta, probably should’ve gone first. Things got boring only a few songs in as a result of lazy singing, the absence of “hooks,” and the only chick in the band embarrassingly trying to be a hardcore rock star by jumping around, thrashing her head too much, and falling to her knees like she studied too many Van Halen videos.

Thank goodness for Kings of Leon’s set list, a blessing for serious fans of their first two albums. They played several great old tunes, mixing in a few songs off the new album throughout. Kings frontman, Caleb Followill, announced after the first couple songs, including “Molly’s Chambers,” from their debut, Youth and Manhood. “We were a little nervous coming out here, but now we’re having fun.”

The show could have been better if it hadn’t been oversold, and the crowd hadn’t consisted of so many jerks unafraid to plow into you from behind to get closer the stage, or squeeze into your boyfriend’s spot behind you while he goes to buy a beer. There was a fight, making it official that this was not the best crowd, and not to mention the crowd surfing.

But even with technical difficulties half-way through the show, the band was not shaken. It actually did the opposite. Kings cousin, Nacho, (also the band’s guitar tech) came on stage during “Milk,” a song from their sophomore album, Aha Heartbreak, picked up some drum sticks and hopped on the kit for minute resulting in Followill cracking up and missing a few lines of the song. It was great to see the Kings family having such a good time.

The hour and a half set ended with Caleb throwing his mic down in the heat of the moment, but they came back out to play a 45-minute encore, kicked off with “Knocked Up,” from their new album. At the end of every song, they played so hard, with so much intensity and momentum, it seemed like their last. The show was anything but disappointing.

Later that night Followill said, “This show was the best on the tour so far. Even though there were some technical difficulties, for the first time we were able to really have fun.” But those of us who had been in the crowd already knew that.

The Kings of Leon are on tour through December. Whether or not you are familiar with their music, it’s sure to be an awesome display of a group of a guys who just like to play. For more information, check out www.kingsofleon.com. —Jillian Stephenson

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