Kings of Leon | 11.19.08 | Nashville

By: Andy Ross

Kings of Leon :: 11.19.08 :: Municipal Auditorium :: Nashville, TN

Kings of Leon
In 2008, Kings of Leon are unapologetically reveling in the glory of youth and their rock star status. In the five years since they first stepped into the limelight, KOL have hammered out four widely acclaimed albums, each one a progression upon the previous in terms of the group's popularity and recognition as a musical force to be reckoned with. Now touring on the heels of their most recent album, Only By The Night, this outfit of Southern boys have, for better or worse, officially risen to levels they likely never could have dreamed - headlining major music festivals such as Britain's Glastonbury and regularly selling out stadium size venues to adoring fans around the world.

On a recent Wednesday night in Nashville, KOL stopped off for their final show on U.S. soil before departing for a few months of overseas touring. Given that Tennessee is the native stomping ground of the band, I had a heady sense of anticipation for what I was about to see as I got my pre-game going in the Broadway Brewhouse a few blocks down the street from the Municipal Auditorium.

Joining the large but less than capacity crowd a few hours later came with an initial disappointment as I realized opening acts The Whigs and We are Scientists had already wrapped up their sets. My spirits immediately lifted though as soon as KOL opened up the show with "Crawl." With its hard driving bassline and drumbeat, heavy distortion and catchy lyrics, the new track seems custom fit for jacking up crowds for some serious fist pumping and crowd surfing. Next came a couple songs from their 2004 album Aha Shake Heartbrake, followed by "Molly's Chambers," one of their early hits and a reminder of the more raw, unfiltered sound the group began with.

By the time they made it though newbies such as "Sex On Fire" and "Revelry" I couldn't help but notice the legions of swooning young girls singing along and capturing every song on their cell phone video recorders. Was this rock 'n' roll or not? I was a little conflicted. On one hand, the pure sound being spit out by KOL was unbelievably solid and crisp. These guys were tight, tight, tight. There was lead singer/rhythm guitarist Caleb Followill's beautifully gritty, perfectly timed vocals dipping and rising with his riffs and falling right in line with the precision beats provided by his brother Nathan on drums. There was the soul stirring basslines of other brother Jared that somehow are always towards the front of the band's sound yet never overbearing. Lead guitarist and first cousin to the brothers, Matthew Followill was also on point the entire night with his concise yet soaring solos, taking over at exactly the right times and leaving plenty of breathing room for the rest of the group. Hearing the combination of these forces up close and personal surpassed all expectation for how they would come off live.

Kings of Leon by ShortyDesign
On the other hand, KOL seemed to emit a somewhat jaded vibe from the stage. Bouncing quickly from one song into the next, they played pretty much every tune straight through just as it would appear on an album. No extended variations, covers or improvisation emerged throughout the night. No real banter with the audience, either. It was as if they knew good and well that all they would have to do to keep the crowd clamoring was run through mostly familiar tracks, which by now they could probably pull off in their sleep. Maybe that is just what the crowd wanted but I left the show feeling more could have been laid on the line. For a group as obviously gifted as the Kings of Leon throwing in a few unexpected twists for their hometown crowd on the last night of the tour would have been in order. The fact the show was over and done with well before midnight only further confirmed this feeling.

Yet beyond this complaint there was no denying the pure listening pleasure. Getting personal favorites such as "Milk" and "Charmer" was a stirring experience to be sure. The intro to the former, building slowing from Caleb's single guitar and vocals into an explosion of crystal clear drums and bass was proof that some music cannot be truly felt unless it is in a live setting. Such was also the case for "Knocked Up," which came out at the beginning of the encore and had me blissfully swimming in the quick breaks and progressions like it was the first time I'd heard the song. Even new tracks such as "Use Somebody" and "Manhattan" that some older fans are critiquing for their pop oriented inclinations were ear candy. Sure, they may be a bit cheesy and get the young girls singing along but so what? It is still some pretty badass music and songwriting of the first order.

Kings of Leon are nothing if not a prime example of a band that rode the wave from obscure rednecks to international rock stars. The thing is, they totally deserve it. No matter what the group does next - and I sure hope they do a lot more - the material already penned is likely going to be around for a very long time. It has an irresistible quality to it, an unyielding celebration of the gritty pain and joy that comes with growing up and enduring this thing called life. Sure, we all have shitty days but for a lot of us there is also the chance for renewal as we blast out music like KOL on a dark night, barreling down the highway away from pain and back towards the party.

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[Published on: 11/26/08]

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peaton Wed 11/26/2008 10:37AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


What happened? They used to be so good. Youth and Young Manhood and Aha Shake Heartbreak were 2 of the best albums we've seen this decade. They totally fell apart with their last two albums. They are way overproduced and they kinda ditch the whole raw southern rock thing in order to cater to teenage girls. I guess thats why they call music a business.

SkiBumK27 starstarstarstarstar Wed 11/26/2008 10:38AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Nice Review, Kings of Leon are sick

King Rhino starstarstar Wed 11/26/2008 10:43AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

The Jonas Brothers - beards = Kings Of Leon

BehindTheMule Wed 11/26/2008 11:26AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


My husband and I drove 4 hours up to St. Louis a couple weeks ago to see KOL at the Pagent. I also thought that communication with the audience was limited, but the crowd was IN TO IT all night! Many of the songs had pretty much the whole audience singing along. I ended up getting a set list from that show. While their sound is evolving and moving from that gritty rock sound to a more smooth and produced vibe, they are still a good band. I would see them again.

MartinHalo Wed 11/26/2008 12:09PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


As long as Jacquire is by their side in the studio, there is no shit to be talked on this band. A fine man that Jacquire King.

Vega Productions starstarstarstar Wed 11/26/2008 01:00PM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Vega Productions

The Jonas Brothers - beards = Kings Of Leon

Best post I've seen in a looooong time.


dannymo starstarstarstarstar Wed 11/26/2008 05:00PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

This is a GREAT band and the last two albums are amazing.. That 's why I don't visit this sight anymore....People ripping on anything that is not GD or Phish,SCI etc... These kids have my admiration and respect...They record it and put it out, I buy! Happy Turkey Day all! now flame away....peace out

JDMethod star Wed 11/26/2008 05:19PM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
j-bizzle Wed 11/26/2008 05:24PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


come on jdmethod - the strokes are not in the same league as KOL. have you ever listened to their albums? the song structure and themes remind me more of bruce springsting than all that hipster BS. give em a chance,you will enjoy.

RedRocks88 Thu 11/27/2008 11:19AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


this comment is not to be taken as ripping on this band. with that being said some friends and show-going buddies have tried to get me onto this music making me cds and what not.. i just dont see the appeal.. what unique? is there any special talent in the band im not hearing? even the review stated they were going quickly "from one song into the next, they played pretty much every tune straight through just as it would appear on an album. No extended variations, covers or improvisation emerged throughout the night. No real banter with the audience, either." why should i go see this band? i really want answers!

jacoyle1 Thu 11/27/2008 01:11PM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

HAHA King Rhino

best post ever and so true, love it !

Jeff Kash Fri 11/28/2008 12:14PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Jeff Kash

Kings of Leon sucked real hard when they opened for Girl Jam.

rainydayman Fri 11/28/2008 02:38PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Do the Jonas Brothers have beards? That "best post ever" doesn't make sense.

Woody Sat 11/29/2008 10:48AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


this band used to rip

Oh_mander starstarstarstar Sat 11/29/2008 03:37PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I agree with rainydayman. The Jonas Brothers don't have beards, so nice try all you haters out there. Didn't your mothers ever teach you that if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all? Let me enjoy my KOL!

Conjugal Burning Sun 11/30/2008 01:32PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Conjugal Burning

The Jonas Brothers + beards = Kings Of Leon. That is what what king rhino's objective was, and funny as shit if i do say so

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} Mon 12/1/2008 05:41AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

"cater to teenage girls"

and boys.

mcarroll Mon 12/1/2008 09:42AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I'm not exactly sure what the Jonas Brothers sound like, but I have a hard time believing they sound like Kings of Leon. Oh well, I guess I'll let those of you that apparently listen to the Jonas Brothers make the call.

NittyGritty Mon 12/1/2008 06:34PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


At least the girls they bring don't have hairy armpits and make love to trees. Saw this show and it rocked the whole way!

mcarroll Tue 12/2/2008 01:13PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Looks to me like the only person that has a beard in Kings of Leon is the lead singer? I'd say that joke failed pretty miserably on multiple levels. You guys probably shouldn't try to defend it. Of course, if the Jonas Brothers had beards the equation would almost make sense, but what are those guys, like 15?

Conjugal Burning Tue 12/2/2008 06:39PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Conjugal Burning

when i saw KOL they all had beards, yet the set was far better then the recent crap they have put out. That sex is on fire song makes me want to pull my hair out.

Conjugal Burning Tue 12/2/2008 06:42PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Conjugal Burning

.....but grizzly adams did have a beard

jodin1881 starstarstar Tue 12/2/2008 06:42PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!



Rockyourfaceoff starstarstarstar Tue 12/9/2008 09:58PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


new stuff is good, but they gotta throw trani back in the setlist