Monday, August 1, 2011

Kings Of Leon

I’m beginning to think my concert-going is cursed because Friday’s Kings of Leon show at Gexa Energy Pavilion makes for my second show in the past month cut short due to a malfunction. Rihanna’s stage caught fire at the AAC on July 8, and KOL’s lead singer Caleb Followill bailed backstage and failed to return to finish the show.
The Gexa Energy Pavilion was packed. Despite the heat, every seat in the covered sitting area was occupied, and the lawn was a sea of bobbing heads all the way to the back wall. Ushers were handing out makeshift fans at every entrance, and gigantic embedded rotating blades were on full blast in the ceiling of the stage awning; however, neither made the heat any more bearable with hundreds of bodies crammed into the venue.
As the sun was setting over the lawn, all the lights went out in the covered sitting area. KOL began their set with “Radioactive” as oversized stage lights lowered from the ceiling. The lights began to strobe, and when Followill let out a long-winded “woooooo” the stage was hidden in a blaze of white as all the stage lights burned full blast.
KOL wasn’t even three songs into their set before the search lights on stage started catching huge clouds of smoke coming from the front pit of people. A cloud would rise from the middle, then two from the left, and another from the right, and eventually smoke clouds were popping up everywhere in the pit, and the smell of marijuana set in.
Followill started showing signs of struggle early on. Only a few songs in, and he spoke to the audience.
“My voice is 100% gone, so if y’all could sing,” he urged.
But somewhere between realizing how “gone” his voice really was, and feeling the combination of Texas heat with multiple oversized stage lights beating down on him, one of the stage hands came over to put a wet towel across his neck.
“For the record I’m not drunk. I’m just f**kin hot,” he claimed.
But it was only two songs later, after he finished “Notion,” singing with a background of three lines of LED blue lights, that Followill left the stage, and we were informed he needed a 20-minute break. To cool off, to throw up, to have another beer, we’ll never know. The stage lost its luster as the default lights came back on. At first, fans didn’t seemed too worried, but after 20 minutes had passed and the stage was still empty, grumbles could be heard, both about the heat and about the wait. But as soon as Followill’s brother and cousin stepped up to the mic uproar was on its way. You could hear the sincere disappointment, and maybe a bit of fear, in both their voices as they apologized for Followill’s inability to finish the show.
There was an initial flood of boos as the audience received the news. There were clumps of fans that weren’t too wasted and angry, who tried cheering for the guys who had to cover for their lead singer, knowing they weren’t to blame. But then T-shirts and other easily airborne accessories started flying at the stage, and they took that as their cue to utter one last apology, promise a return, and then leave the stage. But before I could be too bummed about not hearing “Sex On Fire,” the couple in front of me turned around and offered me two beers as a peace offering, saying they were family of the band — at least KOL has good damage control.