Imagination runs wild at UCF


Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons on Sept. 23, 2013 at CFE Arena in Orlando, Fla (Ty Wright/Valencia Voice)

ORLANDO — Kick off your shoes and socks, then gather around — anything negative on your brain is no longer important — any presumptions or prejudice you held before reading this is void, for you are about to experience something everlasting.

Fans of all ages gathered to watch Imagine Dragons Monday, some as young as 6-years-old, whose parents are obliviously cooler than mine was growing up, allowing their child to stay out late on a school night – perform a 15-song set.
A chill that could be felt in the upper seating section of CFE filled the arena during the band’s instrumental intro, as fans arose and scream.

Lead by frontman and vocalist Dan Reynolds: bassist Ben McKee, guitarist Wayne Sermon, drummer Dan Platzman and keyboardist Ryan Walker took the stage, owning it as if they had something to prove.

Between pounding the drums and providing the main source of vocals — Reynolds would take small breaks to thank the crowd for showing up and to express how thrilled he was to be on the stage — when just five-years ago when the band formed he was sleeping on peoples couches and floors.

At one point during the show Mckee approached the side of the stage to get the crowd going — it’s as if he knew I was their to review the concert — after briefly ripping on his bass, Mckee stopped, looked up, and directed a huge smile to my direction.

The energy-filled performance was packed of highlights. At one moment during Imagine Dragons’ set, big balloon balls filled with confetti surfaced into the audience. As the balloons made their ways through the stage floor – the band provided a Karate Kid-like themed instrumental ambiance in the background – and as the balloon would pop, all members of the group would cheer in cohesive with the crowd.

While songs like high-energy platinum single “Radioactive” proved the group could keep a crowd “jumping”, more intimate song “It’s Time” proved Reynolds could hold a harmony, moving flawlessly through the verses.

Taking a break from original music, Imagine Dragon’s payed homage to music greats, covering Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me” and Cold War Kids “Hang Me Up to Dry”.

As the group made their way back to the stage for an encore – following fans stomping on the seat stands and screaming “Imagine Dragons” – earlier departures began running back into the arena to see them perform one final song.

Monday night at CFE Arena will be something worth remembering forever — like when Mufasa takes Simba to the top of Pride Rock, and explains to him one day the entire kingdom would be his — all thanks to Imagine Dragons.

Photos from the night