Live Review: Kings of Leon at Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, VA – Saturday 7th August 2010

By on Wednesday, 11th August 2010 at 2:00 pm

As an incurable Anglophile, I find that most of the music I listen to is either British or most popular in the UK, but few bands make me as proud to be American as Southern rockers Kings of Leon. In fact, after Saturday’s amazing gig at the unfortunately named Jiffy Lube Live (formerly Nissan Pavillion), I actually don’t mind my habit of picking up Southern accents when I’m around them for more than five minutes (what can I say? I was born in Virginia!) and I want to put on the cowboy boots I don’t actually own and go line dancing. And while I’ll never be a fan of the kitschy nature of country music, the Followill boys’ Southern-ness is just right, and that’s because the Southern-ness of some of their music is effortless and natural — it just flows through them and out into the crowd.

Since I’d paid an ungodly amount for general admission pit tickets, I wasn’t about to be stuck in the back, even if it meant getting there early and standing against the barrier for a couple extra hours on my broken toe. Luckily for me, the first opener, Montreal-based band The Stills, were well worth the wait! Their sound easily filled the large, open space, especially with their echo-y vocals and rich guitar tone. They opened with the fantastic ‘Being Here,’ a single off of 2008’s ‘Oceans Will Rise,’ and also played ‘Snow in California’. (Listen to both tracks on their myspace page.) Another song was dedicated to Alex Ovechkin (“the greatest athlete who has ever lived”) and their final song, ‘Keep It Going,’ went out to the men of of the night, Kings of Leon.

I wasn’t quite as fortunate when it came to the other opener, Built to Spill, the band from Boise, Idaho who finished up their month-long stint with the Followill boys at this show. Though in their best moments the lead singer’s voice sounded a bit like Michael Stipe’s, it was often unintelligible and sometimes very harsh-sounding. Many of the songs had repetitive melodies or were otherwise incapable of holding the crowd’s attention, and they complained after every few songs about equipment problems and how “apparently they wanna fuck all our stuff up.” What DID hold my attention, though, was the copious amount of sweat pouring through the singer’s beard — gross.

And then it was time for the main event. Our favorite Nashvillians took the stage amidst billowing red smoke and epic classical music and launched straight into their 20-song set with ‘Crawl’ and ‘Be Somebody.’  Next up was ‘My Party,’ with lead singer Caleb’s already amazing voice distorted to new levels of sexiness. For me, between his swagger and his voice, Caleb is the ultimate rock star, so you’ll have to pardon my fangirling. When he confronted the mic, singing “You talkin’ bout my baby, I could flip you upside down and I could mop this place,’ I was almost surprised nobody threw their panties on stage. Another moment of intense fangirling came when they played two of my favorites, ‘Milk’ and ‘Fans’ back to back – incredible. The set was a good mix of the old, the new and crowd favorites, and though the crowd when mental for ‘Sex on Fire’ and ‘Use Somebody,’ I’ve gotta say I was disappointed that few people seemed to know ‘Trani.’

One of the definite highlights of the night was all of the new songs they played. Caleb said to NME [19 July 2010]: “If we were to go out there and play a concert and not play new music, it would feel like we had our hands tied. I think we would be bored with the show. We didn’t want to go back out there and give ’em the ‘Only by the Night’ tour, part two. It’s inspiring to be able to go out there and play new songs. Not only are you testing the songs out on the crowd, but we have that, ‘Oh, shit!’ moment when we’re looking at each other. Are they gonna like this? Are they gonna sit down because it’s not ‘Use Somebody’?” I’m happy to say that the four new songs they played, ‘Radioactive,’ ‘Pickup,’ ‘Mary’ and ‘Southbound,’ could more than hold their own against their back catalog. ‘Radioactive’ has a very full, powerful sound, with the hook “it’s in the water where you came from.” ‘Pickup,’ a mid-tempo track which they played live for the first time EVER and dedicated to the crowd, was incredibly sexy and almost sinfully good and Caleb’s voice sounded amazing. The third new song, ‘Mary,’ was a hell of a lot of fun, with its chorus of “a-Ha’s,” not to mention the fantastic guitar in the bridge, and had me grinning like an idiot. And while I can somewhat understand KoL’s description of the new music as being “chilled out” and “beach-y,” ‘Southbound’ is pure Southern rock pefection, with them singing “I’m going back down South now” in harmony with their Southern drawl in full force.

After the gig, drummer Nathan Followill tweeted “Hell yeah bristow. Thanks for the party. We will be back for sure. See yall sooner than you think.” And thats exactly what it was: a party. A party with one HELL of a good DJ!

Kings of Leon photos and setlist after the cut!

Kings of Leon Setlist

Be Somebody
My Party
Molly’s Chambers
Four Kicks
The Bucket
Sex on Fire
On Call
Knocked Up
Use Somebody
Black Thumbnail

* = New song expected to be on ‘Come Around Sundown,’ released 18 October, 2010. Titles for new songs found here and may not be the official titles.

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[…] November 2010 at 12:00 pm It will come as no surprise to anyone who read my reviews of their live show or most recent single, ‘Radioactive,’ that I’m a huge fan of Nashville rockers […]

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