How AWOLNATION Won Me Over

I watched every act at Deck The Hall Ball 2012 in Seattle (there were nine different bands), and there wasn’t a bigger surprise than the AWOLNATION concert. They arguably put on the best show of anyone (aside from maybe The Killers) at the eight-hour musicfest. Not only did AWOLNATION keep you guessing at what was coming next, they also kept you really active.

AWOLNATION Concert | Deck The Hall Ball

AWOLNATION performs at Deck The Hall Ball

I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the AWOLNATION concert at Deck The Hall Ball. I knew their hit song ‘Sail‘, but I had to do some research to learn more about them. I was pleasantly surprised when I listened to their album. I assumed most of AWOLNATION’s songs sounded like ‘Sail’, but that wasn’t the case. They had much more range than I expected — and that’s exactly what they showed during their concert as well.

The AWOLNATION concert started with the group coming on stage and immediately head banging and screaming “AWOLNATION” over and over again. With a name like AWOLNATION, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I wasn’t really expecting that. The band then stopped rocking out, and kicked into their first song which was much more calm. It was a strange introduction to them.

The routine of head-banging one second, and then kicking into a song with a much different tone continued for the first chunk of the AWOLNATION concert. You never really knew what was coming next, so it was also a little hard to follow. I know I wasn’t the only one thinking that, because my friend Tove and my sister, who were with me at Deck The Hall Ball, were confused to. Aside from the passionate AWOLNATION fans, I honestly think several people in the crowd weren’t really sure how to respond.

The AWOLNATION concert started to shift in the right direction when the group performed ‘All I Need’. The song is as far from head banging as you can find. It’s actually a good jam, and one I downloaded before Deck The Hall Ball. Before he kicked into the song, AWOLNATION lead singer Aaron Bruno encouraged everyone to put their arms around the people next to them. As he was singing ‘All I Need’ the crowd swayed together in unison. A little later into the song, Bruno asked everyone to wave a lighter or cell phone to “make it really cheesy” (in his words). This was easily one of the most fun moments of Deck The Hall Ball, and one that definitely won over the naysayers (including my sister and Tove). The video of AWOLNATION performing ‘All I Need’ at Deck The Hall Ball is actually the most watched video on the 107.7 The End (the station that hosted Deck The Hall Ball) website right now. Check it out!

After the song was over, Bruno admitted that AWOLNATION doesn’t normally play in front of huge crowds like Deck The Hall Ball (capacity at KeyArena for concerts is more than 16,000). He said while that was probably cool for us to see, it was cool for them as well, staring out at the large audience from the stage. You could tell it was a moment that really meant a lot to him.

Everyone was sold on AWOLNATION after that. The place bobbed, weaved and rocked (yes, there was even a mosh pit) to their next few songs. Bruno wasn’t done having fun with the crowd. He was the puppeteer and we were his puppets — happy to do whatever he told us. He even started the wave in KeyArena, and did a stage dive while still singing AWOLNATION’s final song of the night.

Since it was a nine band event, the AWOLNATION concert was only about 50 minutes. That was more than enough time for me to decide that I’d go see them again without hesitation. I’ve even downloaded their entire album since Deck The Hall Ball. I’m sure AWOLNATION isn’t for everyone, but I know they’re definitely for me.

Have you ever seen an AWOLNATION concert? I’d love to hear what you think about them. You can leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out http://allaroundtim.com for more on music, sports and travel!

Deck The Hall Ball 2012 | Nine Bands, One Great Show

It’s not often you find The Killers, M83, Metric, Awolnation, Passion Pit, The Lumineers, Grouplove, Of Monsters and Men, and The Joy Formidable all on the same stage in one night, but it happened at Deck The Hall Ball 2012 in Seattle. I was one of the few people who was actually there from beginning to end, and it was worth every second of my time.

The Joy Formidable jump started Deck The Hall Ball 2012. KeyArena was pretty empty at the time, but that didn’t prevent them from straight rocking out. There are only three members of The Joy Formidable, but it sounds like there are more people on stage when they’re jamming. They play hard, especially lead singer Ritzy Bryan. She’s a little fireball, springing all over the stage like the Energizer Bunny. They only had time to play four songs, so The Joy Formidable left their mark by smashing their instruments at the end of their set (guitars were thrown and drums went crashing to the stage). One of the personalities from 107.7 The End (the station that puts on Deck The Hall Ball) came out afterwards and called it “the most ferocious start to Deck The Hall Ball ever.”

Deck The Hall Ball 2012 | Of Monsters and Men

Of Monsters and Men

Next on stage at Deck The Hall Ball 2012: Of Monsters and Men. This was one of the groups I was most interested in seeing. I bought their album months ago (before their songs were even on the radio), but I wasn’t sure how they’d sound live. I was really impressed by Of Monsters and Men. They have a very mellow tone on their album, but they weren’t afraid to jam out on stage. Of Monsters and Men kept the crowd involved as well. They split the audience for a sing along on ‘Mountain Sound‘ (half of KeyArena sang “Hold your horses now,” while the other sang “We sleep until the sun goes down,” etc.), and everyone in the crowd sang every word to ’Little Talks‘ without urging from the band. I really wish Of Monsters and Men had more time on stage at Deck The Hall Ball, but that’s the way these events go. I’ll just have to hunt them down again.

Deck The Hall Ball 2012 rolled from Of Monsters and Men right into Grouplove. They started their set with ‘Itchin’ On A Photograph‘, which got everyone amped up for them. The crowd gave Grouplove their largest ovation after ‘Tongue Tied‘ though. Grouplove also played the only cover at Deck The Hall Ball by rocking their own version of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’. Aside from Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi (the most recognizable members of Grouplove), drummer Ryan Rabin stole the show. He rocked out the entire set and then did some crowd surfing before he left the stage.

There was no group I was more excited to see at Deck The Hall Ball 2012 than The Lumineers. It was honestly a little hard to come down to their level at first, because everyone else had rocked so hard before them. The Lumineers were easily the most mellow band of the night. I definitely don’t mean that as an insult, because they put on a great show (and they were just as rad as I hoped they’d be). Leading up to their set, no song got a bigger burst from the crowd than ‘Ho Hey‘. The place erupted after The Lumineers played the first note. The Lumineers loved to engage the audience as well. They had a lot of fun with ‘Ho Hey’, but the best follow-the-leader was ‘Stubborn Love‘. The Lumineers even performed a new song (it’s so new that it doesn’t even have a name yet) at Deck The Hall Ball. I just happened to be recording when they played it, so take a listen:

Passion Pit took the stage at Deck The Hall Ball 2012 after The Lumineers. This was actually the second time I saw Passion Pit this year. I also watched them perform live at Bumbershoot in Seattle over the summer. I was pumped to see them again this time around, but I wound up a little disappointed. It’s not their fault though. Passion Pit had the KeyArena crowd moving the entire time. The biggest problem is that I was in the upper deck, so I wasn’t anywhere near the active audience (unlike Bumbershoot when I was in the middle of the fray). After Deck The Hall Ball came to an end, I remember raving about so many bands, but Passion Pit never came into the conversation. Don’t get me wrong, Passion Pit put on a great show but they just didn’t do anything extremely memorable. I’d still go see them again the next time they roll through town.

Deck The Hall Ball 2012 | Awolnation

Awolnation

Awolnation was one of the great unknowns for me at Deck The Hall Ball 2012. If you’ve listened to their album, you know they have a lot of range, and they really showed that off during their set as well. They were actually a little hard to grasp at first. One second Awolnation was headbanging, and then the next they were playing the more poppy ‘Kill Your Heroes‘. I think there were a lot of people who didn’t know what to think of them early on, but Awolnation won the crowd over with ‘All I Need‘. It’s a slower song, so frontman Aaron Bruno had everyone put their arms around the folks next to them as they played. Everyone swayed together to the music, and then Bruno encouraged the crowd to wave a lighter or cell phone (to make it “really cheesy” in his words). I think it was the most entertaining moment of the night. Bruno wasn’t done after that. He led the audience in the wave, and then crowd surfed while singing his final song. I think Awolnation put on arguably the best show of the night. I’d definitely pay to see them perform again.

Awolnation was a tough act to follow, and unfortunately it was up to Metric to keep the crowd going. They failed miserably though. I didn’t know anything about Metric (aside from the one song (‘Breathing Underwater‘) they played on the radio leading up to Deck The Hall Ball), and I don’t care to know more about them now. I can’t be the only one who feels that way. The audience seemed disinterested during their set. There was no movement in the crowd, no one was taking pictures or video of them (like they were for all the other groups), and several people actually walked out during their performance. It was relatively dead inside KeyArena for Metric. They just never captured the crowd. They were easily the biggest flop of the night.

Let’s talk about a group that did capture the audience — M83. These guys are unlike anyone else who played Deck The Hall Ball 2012. M83 is more electronic and instrumental than anything. They’re more about flashing lights and jamming out than signing many lyrics. Several people in the crowd even whipped out their glow sticks for their set. I have to admit that M83 doesn’t exactly tickle my earlobes, but they were very entertaining. They jammed and jammed and jammed for a full 50 minutes. I took this video of M83 performing ‘Midnight City‘, so you could get a feel for what their set was like:

Deck The Hall Ball 2012 | The Killers

The Killers

The Killers were the headliners for Deck The Hall Ball 2012. There’s a good reason they were the last to perform. The Killers put on an incredible show. They just seemed so much more seasoned at performing live than the rest of the acts at the event. They had a more dynamic setup than anyone else, including a 30+ foot video board hanging behind them and confetti that came shooting out during one of their songs. The stage just seemed bigger for them, and lead singer Brandon Flowers kills it (no pun intended). The Killers were the only group to get everyone in the crowd on their feet for their entire set. They were also the only band that had every person singing every word to every song. I honestly didn’t realize The Killers had so many hits until Deck The Hall Ball. They just kept coming one after another. It was an awesome atmosphere and a perfect way to wrap up the night.

The Joy Formidable took the stage at 3pm and The Killers walked off the stage at 11:30pm, so it was nearly nine hours of music at Deck The Hall Ball 2012. I was introduced to new bands, rocked out to some of my favorite songs and even waved my cell phone (in place of a lighter) at a concert for the first time in my life. It was easily worth every penny I paid for my tickets. I’m already bracing myself for Deck The Hall Ball 2013.

Were you in the crowd for Deck The Hall Ball 2012? Who was your favorite/least favorite band? I’d love to hear how the night went for you! Please leave a message below or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out http://allaroundtim.com for more on music, sports and travel!