I’ll admit I was late to the show, getting lost on my way to the UCSD campus. So I missed the majority of the Tegan and Sara set, but it wasn’t entirely my fault—who expects a concert to start on time? More importantly, who expects a half-hour wait in line? As we strolled in, no one else seemed to mind missing the opener, us latecomers still managing to arrive just in time to hear someone shout, “You Suck.”
While normally touted as the Canadian Twin Lesbian Duo, Tegan and Sara actually tour with five members, three of them male. The three or four people actually listening to the band were dancing, but it became clear during the set (at least the portion I saw) that the true show this evening would be in the crowd and not on the stage.
The crowd, not knowing how to dance to anything that hasn’t been played on the radio for the last few months, didn’t know what to do with the very un-Killers-like Tegan and Sara. Instead of learning, they talked on cellphones, chatted about shoes, and played with their hair. The opening band became little more than a diversion as people fought their way to be at the front of the stage for the headliner.
Even the rockier “Walking With a Ghost” didn’t get anyone listening. By the time Tegan and Sara ended, the mosh pit was in full force but only because everyone was edging their way towards the stage, shoving and crowd surfing to the beat of their own drummer.
The Killers’ radio domination fueled the energy of this crowd more than the opening band or, as it became apparent early on in the set, the band members themselves. The Killers took the stage to Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas” and immediately launched into the first three songs on their debut album, in order.
From the stadium seating in the back of the basketball arena, the sound was distorted and full of echo. Even the radio hits “Mr. Brightside” and “Smile Like You Mean It” sounded lifeless. Not that anyone noticed; they sang louder than lead singer Brandon Flowers and danced, danced, danced, something Flowers did little of himself.
Besides occasional hands in the air, or walking Vegas-style down the stairs, upon which drummer Ronnie Vannucci was perched, Flowers’ basic contribution was to walk around looking sexy; it wasn’t to be energetic. During “Somebody Told Me”, he did fall to his knees and “Andy, You’re a Star” had him spin mechanically in a circle once or twice—almost a parody of himself. Vannucci seemed to be having a better time, as he was a bit more animated.
Still, the Killers had their name in lights, and every time it flashed, the crowd went wild. In a pink leather jacket, Flowers proved that style really is more important than the music.
The highlights of the show were, of course, the two new songs, “Where is She” and “Stereo of Lies”, which blended well with the rest of the set list and kept the crowd dancing and even singing with their catchy choruses. “Indie Rock ‘n’ Roll”, from the UK version of Hot Fuss, proved that the Killers can play the arena crowd just fine. And Flowers really only had to swing a microphone or shake his hands to get the girls screaming.
What it came down to was this: if you went to the show loving the Killers and ready to sing along and dance to every song, then you had a great time. If you came to the show hoping to be wowed, then you left feeling a tad disappointed.
The Killers did exactly what they do, they played their music with more Vegas-pizzazz and fashionable hipster-cool than any wild, rootsy Rock ‘n’ Roll, confusing the rhinestone jumpsuit-clad, fat Elvis with the dashing, slim young Southern man that earned the title as the King of Rock.