Day two of Kanrocksas boasted what I considered the better lineup of the two days – Muse, The Black Keys, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Cage the Elephant, and a bunch of others.
If you can’t tell, I’m more into the rock than the electronic and hip hop stuff.
Saturday night’s headliner was the band I was most looking forward to, English prog-rockers, Muse. I mean, how can you go wrong with the band that Queen’s Brian May called "probably the greatest live act in the world today"?
You can’t .
Muse emerged to warning sirens blaring, right on time at 11 p.m. – just like nearly every other act of the weekend, the on time part, not the sirens – and they were coming hard right off the bat, with one of their biggest hits, “Uprising.”
Too bad the crowd was probably half that of the previous night for Eminem…
But that didn’t seem to faze lead singer and guitarist Matthew Bellamy, who was decked out in hot pink pants and sunglasses with flashing lights. He strutted around the stage as any good British rock star would, with the confidence of a made man. And he belted out the ridiculously grand lyrics without even a hint of self aware irony, and why shouldn’t he? He’s earned the right to proclaim that, "They will not control us/ We will be victorious…" Bass player Christopher Wolstenholme thumped away, laying a thick foundation of Muse’s trademark fuzz bass to support the heavy drums and guitar lines.
The first thing that hit me was how tight these guys are. Their songs sounded virtually as clean as their studio cuts, but with a little extra dose of energy thrown in for good measure.
Almost too clean. Were these guys faking it? No.
Another thing I was a little surprised by is how many hits Muse have. I mean, I know they have sold a shit ton of records, but nearly every other song they played was a radio single at some point. The third song of the night, "Supermassive Black Hole," took the energy even higher. Bellamy’s clear vocals were spot on, his guitar chops ample as well, as he segued the end of the song into a Jimi-like version of the Star Spangled Banner – then segued that again into a ripping version of "Hysteria," another radio hit.
For those scoring at home, that’s three big time hits out of the first four songs.
Muse’s setup was visually interesting, too, with honeycombed projection screens backing the band, while laser lights reached their futuristic tentacles into the audience.
Towards the end of the show, giant eyeball-looking balloons were released into the crowd and exploded like piñatas with confetti for all.
One drawback? After awhile a lot of Muse’s songs start to sound somewhat similar. You know, buzzing guitars, super tremolo vocals, buzzing bass, generally rhythmic guitar riffs to end the songs. So if there’s a drawback, that’s it.
That being said, Muse did mix it up a bit with a few slower numbers that saw Bellamy switch over to the grand piano on stage right. At times the softer stuff evoked a Queen type vibe, and at other times I could hear the Pink Floyd coming through.
As Muse’s hour and a half wound down, the laser show intensified, and Bellamy went to work on his guitar, snuggling up to his amp to get some freaky feedback and squealing. Then he slumped into the metal-covered box as if he might lay his head down on it for a nap, but then took a vicious swipe and booted the amp into the back of the stage.
Next, in the quintessential rock star move, Bellamy unstrapped his axe and swung it around and around before releasing it in a high arc over the drum set. It crashed through the cymbals and shattered on the stage, but he wasn’t done yet.
(Side note: It has to feel better the more expensive the guitar is, right?)
He thrashed the remaining guitar bits sledge hammer style straight down on the stage.
Whereupon the tech promptly brought out another multi-thousand dollar guitar and Muse finished the night with "Knights of Cydonia," which featured a harmonica intro that was strangely fitting considering the band’s usual electronica sound.
But probably the biggest response of the night came for the song "Starlight," as thousands joined in on the choruses:
"Our hopes and expectations/ Black holes and revelations…"
For a moment, it seemed the audience realized that we were all part of something kinda unique, a show that won’t be forgotten for a long time – and one that probably will never be duplicated considering the circumstances:
A beautiful night with one of the world’s biggest bands, in what would have to be considered an intimate setting.
I really doubt Muse ever plays another show with less than 10,000 people in attendance.