Live Review: Hey Champ and Imagine Dragons at the Viper Room

Hey Champ
Hey Champ
Leslie Kalohi

If you're looking for an opening band, 30 Seconds to Mars, look no further. Imagine Dragons are your guys.

Last night the five of them took the Viper Room by storm with their arena-worthy anthems. Dressed up in a button down black shirt and close cropped coif, lead singer, Dan Reynolds, had a very strong resemblance to Prince Charming if he had run off and joined a rock band instead of rescuing Snow White.

With arms outstretched, like a baby egret learning to fly, Reynolds howled and clutched and clenched his face into all sorts of painful looking shapes as the words poured through him like a torrent of EZ cheese. I haven't heard such fine lyrics since, well, Train.

My personal favorite from their single "America" in which he sings "Rise to the top of the world. America, America don't you cry. Lift me up. Give me strength to press on." Put that behind a fireworks montage on the 4th of July and there won't be a dry eye in the house.

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Backing up Reynolds was the perfect band. There was a wild-haired lead guitarist, a lovely keyboardist, a quiet bassist, and a mad-eyed drummer, who all played beautifully. I mean if you had cast this band for a sitcom they couldn't have looked more like what a "rock n' roll group" should look like. In fact someone had been taking note, judging by the amount of video cameras in the room. And the Viper Room loved it. Packed to the gills, there were hair extensions and perfectly gelled fauxhawks bobbing along to the beat. It was exactly the kind of neutered, harmless pop rock that made Maroon 5 and Train stars. With their lead singer's good looks and passionate thrashing on stage they should go far.

Glowing with the pride of a band whose album came out that very day Hey Champ took the stage next.This three piece from Chicago have been riding a well-deserved wave of hype over the past year from their single "Cold Dust Girl," opening for the likes of Passion Pit, Lupe Fiasco, and Kid Cudi.

Hey Champ's Saam Hagshenas
Hey Champ's Saam Hagshenas
Leslie Kalohi

Armed with only a synthesizer, drum kit, and guitar these guys have put together a debut album of well-crafted, '80s tinged dance pop. Clad in a white T-shirt and fedora, lead singer Saam Hagshenas made sure to thank every person who had worked on the album between songs before launching into a synthesizer duel with Pete Dougherty. The duel got the crowd so riled up that a baby mosh pit began to form in the front row (possibly the first mosh pit ever inspired by synthesizers).

But the heart of the band is rooted deep in the rhythms of drummer Jon Marks. With hands flying at the speed of light, Marks pounded out a set that was both inspiring and a little terrifying. He kept time with lightning speed and then somehow squeezed in spontaneous intricate solos throughout the set while singing harmony. It was his beats that transformed the well behaved crowd into a hot sweaty mess in a matter of minutes.

The show ended with Hagshenas announcing that "this song will be the best thing you've heard...in the last thirty minutes," before launching into "Shake.

And, you know, they were right. They brought the house down.


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