San Francisco’s Live 105 pulled out all the stops to deliver the best excuse to put off that holiday shopping for a few more days in order to enjoy two packed nights of music. Those that sprung for tickets to both nights of Not So Silent Night were rewarded with nearly nine hours of live music from an impressive line-up of bands, in addition to between-band DJ sets.
Night #1 kicked off early with a 5:30 pm set by Bay Area favorites Walk The Moon. With a brand-new album (Talking Is Hard) out just a week, the band which mixed things up for their fans who turned out in-force. Sporting reindeer antlers, frontman Nicholas Petricca whipped the substantial crowd of early arrivers into a frothy frenzy and when their 35 minute set came to close, you had to remind yourself that they were the first band of the night.
Like them or not, Future Islands put on a riveting set; it was impossible to watch Samuel Herring bobbing, weaving and likely giving the guy behind the spotlight apoplectic fits. Up next Young The Giant put in a powerful set that showcased the heavier side of the new material with a fury. But all that paled compared to Rise Against which brought more energy to the stage than all of the previous bands combined, resulting in downright chaos on the floor which kept security busy as they fished kids out of the smoosh up front. When frontman Tim McIlrath hopped off the stage to pay a visit to the front row, the place truly went nuts.
Fall Out Boy is still riding high on their 2013 comeback release, Save Rock N Roll, and despite having headlined a summer show at the Concord Pavilion, is still able to pull people in droves who were on their feet and singing along all the way to the top of arena.
Linkin Park wrapped the night off with a headlining set that, in spite of the evening’s diverse offerings, kept people around to the very end where they were rewarded with an unexpected mash-up when Tim from Rise Against joined Chester on vocals for the night’s closer, Bleed It Out.
Night two of NSSN kicked off much like night one … with a line of kids scrambling for the rail when the doors opened at 5 pm. Unlike the previous night, however, things started on a mellow note with Vance Joy’s acoustic-oriented set. The night two line-up was a bit schizophrenic in fact, with the moodier performances by Alt-J, Spoon and Interpol standing in sharp contrast to the wild, high-octane sets by Cage the Elephant and headliner Imagine Dragons.
Cage the Elephant frontman Matt Schultz demonstrated inhuman quantities of energy and spent literally every moment in motion … feet still moving even when planted behind a mic stand. Even the massive stage couldn’t contain him as he crowd surfed multiple times, all the while never missing a note. The 40 minute set flew by and left the crowd wanting more; hopefully we’ll find Cage back in the Bay Area in the new year because twice is clearly not enough (pictures/review from their May show at the Fox).
When it all came down do it, though, night #2 was clearly about Imagine Dragons. In 2012, the band occupied the opening slot on the first night of this same event (link to photos) and has undoubtedly come a long way in the last two years, riding the explosion of their major label debut, Night Visions. Two years of touring has evolved Imagine Dragons into a different band … polished, confident and powerful yet still as connected to the audience as ever. Frontman Dan Reynolds prowled the edge of the stage, spending less time hammering on the giant bass drum and more time with the fans, hopping down to the rail during It’s Time to sing along with the fans and taking a trip to the top of section 110 during Amsterdam, leaving a trail of screaming/giddy/crying girls in his wake.
Sticking with the holiday theme, Imagine Dragons did something that no other band did the entire weekend, they played a Christmas medley; bouncing from First Christmas into Radiohead’s Creep before heading back to the holiday tunes. With only one full LP, the setlist drew primarily from Night Visions but with the promise of a new album in 2015, they broke out I Bet My Life which the crowd was already quite familiar with. For those watching the time, the good news was that Imagine Dragons extended their 60 minute set by 10 minutes to wrap the evening with Demons and Radioactive, two songs they could never get away with leaving out of a set.
With that, another successful Not So Silent Night was in the books although, leaving behind the arena floor cluttered with empty beer cups and discarded dollar store Santa costumes.
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