The Killers 9/30/16

(a) setlist

VIP Pre-Show:

  1. Smile Like You Mean It (acoustic)
  2. Change Your Mind (acoustic)

Sam’s Town:

    1. Sam’s Town
    2. Enterlude
    3. When You Were Young
    4. Bling (Confession of a King)
    5. For Reasons Unknown
    6. Read My Mind
    7. Uncle Jonny
    8. Bones
    9. My. List
    10. This River Is Wild
    11. Why Do I Keep Counting?
    12. Exitlude

Encore 1:

    1. Under The Gun
    2. Spaceman
    3. Human
    4. Somebody Told Me
    5. Runaways
    6. All These Things That I’ve Done

Encore 2:

    1. Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
    2. Mr. Brightside

(b) highlights

  • Damnnnn, people who regularly do VIP are living the life and I feel lucky as HELL for managing to do the VIP experience for this show because it was worth every penny.
  • Sam’s Town. All of it. The album, yes, but the song too. The hotel, the casino, everything it stands for and everything it gave me. There was no way I was going to miss it turning 10 years old. I saw The Killers the day it came out, so it only felt right to see it live all again a decade later.
  • getting to see the whole band together again. While I respect the hell out of Mark Stoermer and genuinely enjoy his solo work, it’s been hard to see The Killers without him. Having everyone together again made the weekend that much more special – it felt like a reunion in more ways than one.
  • it felt pretty damn cool to stay in a hotel so rich in Killers lore, walk around and hear the band everywhere (even deep cuts like “Goodnight Travel Well,” “Move Away” and “Everything Will Be Alright”), see their name and faces on everything from advertisements in McDonald’s and poker chips, to TV screens in buffets and bars. I wish every show could feel like such a circus and experience.
  • the small touches and finer details that brought everything together – handing out carnations before the show, the stage setup looking exactly the same as it did in 2006, the merchandise being reminiscent of merch sold during the Sam’s Town tour – it killed me.
  • the opening of the show with the projection screen, curtain, and everything turning into “Sam’s Town” – nothing beats those moments leading up to the band appearing behind the curtain. The music, the lights, the images of the desert and old Vegas – I get chills thinking about it. It was my favorite part of the Sam’s Town tour years ago and it was so perfect in every way at this extravaganza.
  • getting to be with all my friends and see all the people I’ve met and become friends with over the last decade. It’s amazing how we all come from all over and keep up over the years, how we’ve changed, how we’ve stayed exactly the same. It’s nice when new fans come along for later albums, but there really is something special about being with people who remember what it was like. To be with the people who were actually there. Sometimes I hold onto these distant memories of being a teenager and seeing these shows…it’s incredible to share these moments again with all those who defended Sam’s Town from the naysayers when it came out. To see that all those people still care about the album brings me an unspeakable joy.

(c) lowlights

  • every single Killers show is wry with idiotic security, disorganization, and annoying af people, but none of it ever matters by the time the show starts. The lowlights were far and few between luckily, but, ultimately, CID Entertainment can go f*ck themselves.

(d) overall thoughts

I still remember October 3, 2006 like it was yesterday. I was a couple months short of turning 16, had seen The Killers live toward the end of their Hot Fuss tour and felt tortured the entire summer of 2006 just waiting for their second album’s release. I lived in LA and the band was set to perform a short set of 6 or so songs on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and follow up the evening with a signing at the Virgin Megastore on Hollywood and Highland. What a time to be alive. The band played “When You Were Young,” “Bones,” “Sam’s Town” and a few other classics and then signed cool posters for everyone, including me and my friends. Later in the week, the band played a string of shows in LA, San Diego, San Francisco, etc. and those series of shows are ones I will never forget as long as I live. So, news leaked of a 10-year anniversary for Sam’s Town in Vegas actually at the Sam’s Town hotel? Hell yeah, we were all going.

My friends and I got super lucky and managed to get the VIP experience for Night 1 of the Sam’s Town Extravaganza, and man, that was an experience. The hotel set up a cool, small stage out by the pool, sold Killers-themed drinks and fun finger foods, gave out poker card-themed VIP laminates, big horn sheep stamps, flowers, and a bunch of other Killers’ stuff. Aside from getting early access into the venue, the coolest part of the VIP experience was getting to see the band play two acoustic songs out on that stage. While “Smile Like You Mean It” and “Change Your Mind” are by no means my favorite Killers songs, the performance felt so so special and sweet. It was amazing to see the whole band together again and the intimacy of the setting warmed my heart so much. Dave and Mark felt very present, Ronnie was in the sound, and Brandon was his semi-awkward, semi-comfortable self. We all sang the keyboard parts aloud because why not? Who knows if I’ll ever get to witness something like that again.

As for the main show itself, there’s nothing quite like Sam’s Town for me. Somehow, that album became so representative of underappreciation, fighting for the underdog, and always wanting to be something better. I’ve written extensively about Sam’s Town and its significance in the past, so I won’t bore anyone with that – but basically the one take-away from that album that I keep with me always is the idea that “Sam’s Town” can be anywhere and mean anything for anyone. It’s not really about a hotel and casino off Boulder Highway, but an idea of home – wherever or whatever that may be. So, for me, hearing Sam’s Town is like going home. As I said, watching that projection against the screen that falls as the band comes out and “Sam’s Town” begins is nothing short of magic. It was EXACTLY just as it was 10 years ago – the movie, the screen, the lights, the keyboard, the piano, the sign, the flags, the “Welcome” sign, the crow, the skeleton – everything. By the time the lights went down and everything started, I was straight up sobbing. It’s not every day someone sets up a scene to look exactly the same as one you remember so vividly 10 years earlier. It had also been about 8 or 9 years since I heard the opening track of Sam’s Town live, so I was out of my mind with emotion and excitement.

One of the standout moments of the night came from hearing “Bling (Confession of a King)” – a song that’s been in my top 3 favorite Killers songs since its release. I remember during the original Sam’s Town tour how emotional that song always made me and how I always sort of associated it with the pain I was going through at the time. During this show at the casino, it amazed me how different I felt as a person this time hearing it. “We’re gonna make it out of the fire, higher and higher, we’re gonna take it down to the wire” – the words that once invoked such pain now brought me joy and freedom. I made it out of that fire. The feeling was a bit similar to hearing Brandon sing “Will I live to have some children?” during “Why Do I Keep Counting?” at the end of the Sam’s Town portion of the set. Yes, he will live to have some children, he just didn’t know that in 2006. It’s funny to think that Brandon wrote all those words at the age of 25 – the same age I am now, writing about the experience of this anniversary show. It’s funny how things like that work out.

It was incredible to watch and hear the album in full – specifically tracks like “Uncle Jonny,” “My List,” “This River Is Wild,” and “Why Do I Keep Counting?” – and realize not only how strong every song is together, but really acknowledge the narrative and story that album tells. The Killers never outright called it a concept album, but it pretty distinctly has a beginning, middle, and end, so it felt like taking a wild ride through an adventurous life that was previously unlived. You feel different by the end, and you feel like you experienced something with all the people around you whether they knew it or not.

By the time the second half of the set rolled around, we were all exhausted but elated. Hearing “Under The Gun” and the parade of usual singles was a whirlwind. Brandon seemed at the top of his game, Mark never looked more energetic, Dave appeared fully awake in each and every moment, and Ronnie, well, we all know that dude is perfect and can do no wrong. All the lights and sounds and sights and friends made for the perfect homecoming; just like the band, we all seemed to have grown so much without changing too much at all. Even though years pass, times change, people transform and grow, we all eventually become the best version of ourselves when the lights go down. Because when the curtain falls, the band is there, and the music is right, we all go home. We go to our own Sam’s Town.

Bottom line: Sam’s Town isn’t just a perfect album because of the parts that make up its whole, but because it represents a time and a place and a feeling and a group of people who’ve found solace in its wisdom and comfort. This night of the Sam’s Town Extravaganza will forever be a special and unforgettable experience for me because it brought me together with life-long friends, touched me in ways beyond musical enlightenment, and gave me a home that I can always go back to as long as I just click “play.” Thank you Sam’s Town, and thanks to the four men that put it together.

The Killers 9/19/15

(a) setlist

    1. Viva Las Vegas (Elvis Presley cover)
    2. Under The Gun
    3. Spaceman
    4. The Way It Was
    5. Smile Like You Mean It
    6. Bling (Confession of a King)
    7. Human
    8. Somebody Told Me
    9. For Reasons Unknown
    10. From Here On Out
    11. A Dustland Fairytale
    12. Be Still
    13. Read My Mind
    14. Runaways
    15. All These Things That I’ve Done

Encore:

  1. Finding Out True Love Is Blind (Louis XIV cover) (w/ Brian Karscig)
  2. Uncle Jonny
  3. When You Were Young
  4. Mr. Brightside

(b) highlights

  • “Under The Gun,” holllyyyyy shiiiiitttttttt, we lost it
  • “Be Still” – much like the Atlantic City show earlier this year, Brandon dedicated this one to the fans who follow the band around and had really nice things to say; he waved his hands and pointed out the sections of people, which included me and my friends…the gesture meant a lot, to say the least
  • I first discovered Louis XIV in 2005, maybe 2006, because of The Killers and haven’t seen them in years (they broke up circa 2009, if I recall), so it was amazing getting to see Brandon sing “Finding Out True Love Is Blind” with Louis XIV’s guitarist and friend Brian Karscig (he also has a pretty awesome band named The Nervous Records, who opened for Big Talk a few months before this show); my friends and I had the time of our lives, total blast from the past moment seeing this live
  • but seriously, have you ever heard the lyrics to “Finding Out True Love Is Blind”?? those lines are diiiiirtttty, freaking loved hearing Schoolboy Flowers sing those
  • Ronnie Vannucci’s existence
  • “Uncle Jonny” is one of the best Killers songs, it’s criminally underrated, and they completely transform it live – it’s freaking next level
  • the entire show, to be honest – it felt so special, so wonderful, just…everything

(c) lowlights

  • just as the band started “From Here On Out,” Brandon said, “Hey!!! Do you guys still like ‘From Here On Out’????” and I flat out yelled, “BARELY!” Because I am on my last rope with that song, let’s retire this with our dancing shoes, Mr. Flowers. Let it go.

(d) overall thoughts

Every once in a while, you go to a show expecting to have fun, but something so much bigger happens. Somehow, unexpectedly, this show ended up being one of my favorite Killers shows ever. I wasn’t even supposed to go to this show; my friends and I super last-minute caught a cross-country flight using a zillion flight points and ended up at this small venue in San Diego to see our favorite band. It was super hot and we lied on the sidewalk for most of the day waiting in line and weren’t even in the front row (we were third row center!), but, man…that show was amazing.

The band had so much energy, the crowd had so much energy, and I genuinely never knew what song was coming next. Hearing “Under The Gun” live for the first time in – what, 7, 8, 9(?) years, was so emotional and wonderful. It was such a treat, such a gift, that I couldn’t help but smile the whole time. This show in particular was just full of so much joy and happiness and celebration. The band wasn’t touring for anything (this counted as a warm-up show for their Kaaboo Festival performance!), so the crowd was super hungry for them. Considering how, at this point, The Killers hadn’t put out a new album in three years, it felt natural that everyone’s hunger made the venue environment next level. The band seemed so happy and everyone was smiling and in their element. As if I needed reminding, this show really drove home how much I love The Killers and how happy they make me. You can’t forget some experiences like that. This one was one for the books.

 

Bottom line: I love that The Killers can still surprise me after a decade of waiting in line all damn day to see their asses play the same songs I’ve heard a hundred times; 11/10 would do this whole show 50 times over again because it was almost perfect.

The Killers 6/20/15

(a) setlist

    1. Mr. Brightside
    2. Spaceman
    3. The Way It Was
    4. Smile Like You Mean It
    5. Bling (Confession of a King)
    6. Human
    7. Somebody Told Me
    8. Bad Moon Rising (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)
    9. The Rising Tide
    10. Shot at the Night
    11. For Reasons Unknown
    12. From Here On Out
    13. A Dustland Fairytale
    14. Be Still
    15. Read My Mind
    16. Runaways
    17. All These Things That I’ve Done

Encore:

  1. Uncle Jonny
  2. Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
  3. When You Were Young

(b) highlights

  • UNNNNCCCLLLLEEEE JJJOOONNNNNNNNYYYYYYYYY!
  • “Be Still” – “dedicated to the fans” – WOW
  • seeing “The Rising Tide” live for the first time; it’s a song rarely played live that really needed its moment to shine, and it definitely shined here
  • the entire show felt so special with so many unexpected moments; I constantly felt like my heart was going to burst
  • the part when I was having such a good time and going crazy that my phone in my pocket posted a Facebook status, called three people I haven’t spoken to in years, changed my clock to military time, and changed wifi networks
  • Ronnie Vannucci in tiny Atlantic City shorts, byeeeeeeee
  • did I mention they played Uncle FREAKING Jonny for the first time since 2007!!!!!

(c) lowlights

  • Borgata Festival Park is the worst place on Earth, never go there ever, please do not give them money; their security guards are pointless, rude, idiotic, and waiting for this show was one of the worst experiences e.v.e.r.

(d) overall thoughts

Saying the weekend of June 18th-21st was an adventure is a bit of, uh, an understatement. My friends and I spent the 18th and 19th in Delaware at the Firefly Festival, the 20th in Atlantic City in New Jersey, and went back to Firefly on the 21st. I would definitely not recommend doing that if anyone is considering it…

Anyway, the wait and line for this show was a nightmare beyond belief, but none of that ultimately mattered. It was so hot, so sticky, so New Jersey, but damn, this show was like a sneak attack in the end – no one saw it coming, but it ended up being one of the best Killers shows I’ve ever seen. Sometime toward the end of 2014 and for a lot of 2015, I mentioned time and time again to my friends (and anyone who would listen) that The Killers should play one of my favorite songs live, “Uncle Jonny.” They hadn’t play it live since 2007, but they did it. They freaking played it and I totally lost it. Before that, that played “The Rising Tide,” a virtually forgotten track on their last full album Battle Born. It was never forgotten by fans, so hearing it live made it so energized and brought another part of that album alive for me.

Perhaps the most emotional moment for everyone dropped with “Be Still.” For honest to God the first time ever, the band acknowledged the hardcore fans who travel from everywhere and have been following The Killers for a long time. Brandon dedicated “Be Still” to all those people – which obviously includes myself – so hearing one of my favorite Killers song ever along with that dedication was a truly meaningful and poignant moment for me and all my friends. And I will forever be incredibly thankful for that. The Killers were still technically on “hiatus” at the time, so seeing them without a real album to promote and just playing together at a random casino in New Jersey was unexpectedly wonderful.

Bottom Line: Pretty much the only reason I continue to drag my ass to Atlantic City to see The Killers is because, every once and a while, an incredible and memorable show like this one drops and makes everyone’s hearts burst.