Kasabian w/ The Dear Hunter 04/17/12
The Fonda Theatre – Hollywood, CA
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito
Standing along the fence that separates a parking lot from Hollywood Blvd I watched as a tour bus slowly backed up and parked next to an 18 wheeler. With doors for The Fonda Theater not open for another two hours I felt like a teenager again as I watched as each member of the band exited the bus and entered the venue. In a day and age where I typically show up to a concert as late as possible and often get to hang with the bands before or after I couldn’t remember the last time I felt such excitement to see a famous musician perform let alone walk across a parking lot. Then again, this was not your typical concert; this was the final headline performance during Kasabian’s highly successful return to America and I was going to treat this evening as if I was an underage girl at a Justin Bieber concert.
Having spent time pre show meeting many from a Facebook group I started called “Bring Kasabian to North America” the love only grew once inside the venue as fans that had never seen the band swapped tales with the few who had. It was about 45 minutes into our conversation when we were interrupted by Serge, Jay and Chris from Kasabian. Armed with size medium white t-shirts featuring a unique word printed upon it, they asked for volunteers to put them on. As you can imagine, there was no shortage of folks trying to squeeze into the tiny t-shirts. I know I felt a lot like a sausage as I did my best to fit my large man boobs into a shirt that simply read “ride.” With about 50 of us now wearing these t-shirts we were told that we would find out what they were for later. While the band never did share with us the purpose, it is assumed that it has something to do with the sign posted outside the venue stating that we would all be filmed by the Last Call With Carson Daly television program.
It was 9pm sharp when The Dear Hunter took the stage. Not to be confused with the Phish hating Deerhunter, this Rhode Island group mixes deep fried southern melodies with gluten free indie tendencies. Surprisingly, the end result was rather tasty as their 30 minute opening set was quite delectable. One of my favorite thing to see live is a three guitar attack. However, this must be done properly and The Dear Hunter did exactly that. An enjoyable set that lasted just the right amount of time as it was clear early on that 99% of the crowd were there for the evening’s headliner and not the opener.
Having smuggled numerous messages for the band into the venue, I made sure to have my “Vote For Meighan/Pizzorno in 2012” sign raised high as the boys from Leicester took to the stage. Opening with “Days Are Forgotten” it was clear out the gate that while The Fonda Theatre may only hold 1,200 people they brought a light and sound system designed to rock 120,000. As the bass boomed and singer Tom Meighan welcomed the packed venue with open arms I knew it was time to get loose, let go and give the band what little energy I had left after a long weekend (and not to mention my first Kasabian live experience) at Coachella.
Not missing a step, the end of “Days” flowed nicely into the Empire track “Shoot The Runner.” As I looked past the first few rows of fans behind me, my long running fears were beginning to come true. Having watched hundreds of live Kasabian videos on YouTube, I know that when they play the crowd goes bonkers for the band. Alas my lone headline appearance from the band happened to be in a town where even the greats find it impossible to get the crowd to show any type of enthusiasm on a Friday night, let alone a Tuesday night.
Thankfully my fear didn’t last long as Kasabian proved why they are the greatest rock stars to emerge over the last decade. The band reminded fans where they were, who they were seeing and that it was time to get off of the cell phones and into the show. Hard hitting versions of “Velociraptor,” “Underdog” and “I.D.” finally got many on the floor jumping and moving. Playing up that they were in the city of Angels, Meighan not only dedicated “Thick as Thieves” to Peter Hayes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, he threw in a few lines of The Doors “People Are Strange” to the delight of many older audience members.
My biggest shock of the night was “Take Aim.” Not a terrible song, but one that may get skipped occasionally when I enjoy West Ryder however after this night that may never happen again. With Meighan now totally absent from the stage, lead guitarist/vocalist Sergio Pizzorno lead the band through a highly charged take on the song. Pizzorno doesn’t ask that you jump and make some noise, he demands it and by this point in the night there was not a single person inside of the Fonda not eating out of his hand and following his every word. Having smiled and given me a thumbs up after spotting my “America <3 Kasabian” sign, the swirling wall of feedback built into the bands biggest stateside hit “Club Foot.” With Meighan sneaking back on stage and bassist Chris Edwards laying down the greatest bass line of the past 25 years I couldn’t help but smile. Kasabian were in Hollywood rocking my ass harder than it has ever been rocked before.
I have to assume that either “Re-Wired” or “Goodbye Kiss” will be the song featured on the Carson Daly television program as numerous video cameras showed up around that time. Having now made Meighan smile and dare I say blush from his spotting the “Thank You For Playing America Again” sign the band unknowingly thanked me by busting out “Fast Fuse.” Countless nights I have pushed my car well past the posted limit as I drive through the concrete jungle known as Los Angeles screaming along to the lyrics from this song. I have abused this metropolis hard over the past decade and not playing this song within our vast city limits would have been nothing short of criminal.
After a set closing “L.S.F. (Lost Souls Forever)” which featured an extended outro where Pizzorno once again made Los Angeles break its strict NO AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION rule by singing the songs La La La’s well after other members had left the stage. When the band eventually returned we were treated to a nasty three song encore. Kicking off with arguably the bands heaviest song “Switchblade Smiles” it felt as if the lads had turned up the music even louder than before. With many in the crowd now jumping and smashing into each other without Pizzorno requesting us to do so, “Vlad The Impaler” kept the low end rumbling and featured Pizzorno laying down a few lines from “Smack My Bitch Up” by The Prodigy.
As the notes of “Fire” began to rang through the PA I knew our time together was coming to an end. I flashed my “Let’s Hit Roscoe’s After The Show” sign and guitarist Jay Mehler asked if I was paying and I of course responded yes. While we never did find each other for a chicken and waffle feast, he and his mates did rock all of us one last time. Despite its rampant overuse in America today, the word epic is the only way to describe the bands final song. From the fan sing along to Pizzorno instructing us all the sit upon the floor only to jump up on his command the energy inside the room felt like we were in a venue built for sports and not a former vaudeville theatre. As the final notes rang through and the band walked off the stage I am pretty sure I was glowing. Kasabian have conquered the rest of the world and the last empire to fall just happens to be America. I felt it coming long ago but it’s clear that if they keep working hard it is only a matter of time before this band gets the same love and respect from America as Radiohead and Muse. Thank you Kasabian for coming to America, please don’t make us wait 5 years for your next visit.