For five hours, 250 Kings of Leon fans stood outside the KROQ radio station off Venice Boulevard in Los Angeles. The majority of the crow consisted of selected winners via website contests or being caller twenty on the KROQ station in order to be a part of the rare intimate showcase. The showcase was part of the KROQ Red Bull collaboration called the Red Bull Sound Space, located within the KROQ studios.
The space was lightly decorated with dissected speakers, audio equipment and record players that took over the wall behind the instruments as the backdrop. A variety of free Red Bull beverages were passed out as a live KROQ interview with the Nashville, Tennessee natives boomed overhead. Guitarist and lead vocalist Caleb Followill reminisced how the band, all family members, first started out. He discussed their proudest moment (winning a Grammy for their single “Use Somebody”). The crowd stirred closer together toward the stage as the live radio interview wrapped up, signalling that the live performance was just moments away. Music Photography by Scott Dudelson
KROQ’s radio personality and disc jockey Stryker took to the small Red Bull Sound stage to welcome the crowd. He forewarned the audience to respect everyone’s space within the tight knit venue and reminded all that the performance was being webcasted. Stryker then introduced the hunky foursome to the small stage.
The four southern gentlemen dove right into their set with true rock and roll riffs with their 2008 single, “Crawl.” Caleb’s husky drawl rang into the microphone. Although the Followill frontman kept apologizing for how tired they all were and how their sound might be a little off (due to their sold out performance at the Los Angeles Forum the night before), they rocked it. Their Dixie charm vibrated off them as they progressed deeper into their set. KOL performed a mixture of songs from their earlier days of 2004’s Aha Shake Heartbreak and songs off their newest albumm Mechanical Bull. Whether it was their cups of red wine or the crowd’s excitement, the boys eased up and enjoyment emanated from their faces as they grooved. Caleb confessed how much they enjoyed playing their first intimate show in ages. They crowd screamed back in approval before they pulled another song from 2008’s Only By The Night, “Closer.” During the guitar ballad, Nathan, the guitarist, glided his teeth along his guitar strings. The song’s signature, shrilling riffs echoed through the sound space.
Within the short but sweet forty minute set, you caught a glimpse of the Southern garage band that is within these polished, Grammy-winning rock and roll artists. Between the belting in unison of “Use Somebody,” the whole space bounced in excitement as the Followill boys smiled in satisfaction at one another. Apart from the generous amount of free Red Bull beverages and complimentary KOL posters, the most satisfying part of the evening was being able to see the band as a band. After the highs and lows of rock and roll royalty, it was a reassuring sign that the Followill Kings were back to reign.
Kings of Leon Set List:
Wait For Me
Sex On Fire