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American Music Awards: Imagine Dragons perform 'Radioactive'

November 25, 2013|By Randall Roberts | Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
  • Singer Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons performs during the 2013 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Nov. 24, 2013, in Los Angeles,
Singer Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons performs during the 2013 American… (Kevin Winter / Getty Images )

A toast to Imagine Dragons for snagging the award for alternative artist at the American Music Awards. The band's rendition of "Demons" at the annual show, best described as a combo dubstep-rock-Blue Man Group tribute, was truly alternative -- part Nickelback, part Vegas spectacle. The entertainment and the song suggested a brand of rebellion akin to ordering a McRib at McDonald's instead of a Big Mac.

Their gig during Sunday night's broadcast of the worst music award ceremony of the year -- no small feat -- offered ample evidence. To wit, it delivered the required tropes that any so-called alternative band must master to earn the title in the eyes of the AMAs.

There was much fog, perhaps to indicate the impending doom of a band gearing up for a set in hell, soundtracking sinners' eternal damnation. 

AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS 2013: Show highlights

Dressed in black, lead singer Dan Reynolds stood front and center. The sharp objects hanging from his neck -- fangs, perhaps? -- suggested a hunter and his trophies. "With the beast inside/There's nowhere we can hide," he sang while fellow Dragons fought the fog and dodged video-projected lightning bolts.

One particularly "alternative" part came when the singer picked up a mallet after revealing where his demons were hiding -- spoiler alert: they're in his eyes -- and started banging on a big bass drum. It was like he was soundtracking the Broadway adaptation of "The Hunger Games," letting loose primal feelings of survival within the jungle that is the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live.

Adding to the drama was the truth that Imagine Dragons beat equally fringe shouters the Lumineers and Mumford & Sons, both of which have helped reignite passions for the truly raw sounds of popular acoustic folk music. 

On Sunday, though, the lightning bolt that is "Ho Hey" didn't stand a chance against Imagine Dragons' pounding fury. 

Watch below.


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