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A blog for Seattle music lovers of all stripes, from hip-hop and indie rock to jazz and world music.

February 8, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Road warriors Imagine Dragons to rock KeyArena

(Photo by Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images)

(Photo by Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images)

It’s been more than a year and a half since Imagine Dragons’ debut album, “Night Visions,” saw the light of day.

The breakout rock album of 2013 has since sold more than 1 million copies, earning a platinum award, and yielded the singles “It’s Time,” “Radioactive” and “Demons.”

Last month, the band picked up the trophy for best rock performance (for “Radioactive”) at the 56th annual Grammy Awards, where the group performed with fellow nominee Kendrick Lamar, in a mashup of its hit “Radioactive” and Lamar’s “m.A.A.d city.”

“We’re all fans of Kendrick,” frontman Dan Reynolds told Rolling Stone magazine. “We’ve been playing his record on the tour bus. We’re more influenced by hip-hop than most bands. I was into Tupac and Biggie (Notorious B.I.G.) — and to me, Kendrick reminds me of that era.”

The Las Vegas group performed last weekend on “Saturday Night Live” and played at the Bud Light Hotel as hosts of the “Pandora Presents” party during the Super Bowl.

The band’s string of successes and high-profile appearances in the last few months means fewer people are saying, “Imagine who?”

The group made its modest debut about five years ago at a Las Vegas casino, but its path to success has been carefully orchestrated.

Unlike Seattle and its tightly knit music scene, Las Vegas is a town of vacationers who come and go frequently and require immediate gratification from bands they’ve never heard of. Imagine Dragons paid its dues on the Vegas Strip performing six-hour shows mixing originals and covers, keeping the energy level high and being good entertainers.

In time, the group featuring Reynolds, guitarist Wayne Sermon, bassist Ben McKee and drummer Daniel Platzman signed to Interscope Records and serendipitously began writing with Alex Da Kid (aka Alexander Grant), who has produced hits for Eminem (“Love the Way You Lie”), Dr. Dre (“I Need a Doctor”) and B.o.B. (“Airplanes’).

Imagine Dragons’ big, booming sound embodies classic arena rock. The band prepared for the current tour by being road warriors the last several years.

Kicking off this weekend is the group’s “Into the Night” tour, which includes a concert Tuesday at KeyArena with The Naked and Famous and X Ambassadors.

“This is what we live for as a band, playing to an audience that’s never seen us before,” Reynolds told Billboard magazine in a cover story last summer, long before the current tour was announced.

“That’s what we did for three years. As touring musicians, we tried to break new cities, where you played for maybe 20 people whose friends told them about us. You just come out and give it everything you’ve got and try to win over the crowd.”

7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11 (with The Naked and Famous and X Ambassadors), KeyArena, Seattle Center; $25.50-$45.50 (800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.com).

Gene Stout: gene@genestout.com

 

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