Kings of Leon and The Whigs open U.S. tour in Louisville

Kings of Leon with The Whigs
Louisville Palace
Louisville, Kentucky
January 20, 2009

Tennessee’s Kings of Leon opened their U.S. tour at the Louisville Palace in Kentucky on January 20 with Athens, Georgia’s The Whigs ably filling the special guest slot. Actually, the pairing turned out to be one of the most inspired double bills on the concert circuit today.

The Whigs took the stage first, and immediately got down to business. Resurrecting "Technology" and "Nothing is Easy" from 2006’s highly touted album, Give ‘Em All a Big Fat Lip, lead singer and guitarist Parker Gispert was a modern day Neil Young, aggressively stalking the stage alongside the Crazy Horse-like rhythms of wildly flailing drummer Julian Dorio. The Whigs sounded like a cross between The Doors and Sonic Youth on the sonically bracing "Like a Vibration," and "Sleep Sunshine" and "Already Young’s" power punk ravings sat nicely next to an epic and transcendent "Half the World Away," earning The Whigs a standing ovation from the Palace’s sold out crowd.

Riding high with several Grammy nominations and with the 2008 chart topping Only By the Night as their traveling centerpiece, the Kings of Leon appeared gradually, striking up the starting chords to "Slow Night, So Long."  The rhythm section of brothers Jared (bass) and Nathan (drums) Followill made an instant impact on the ensemble’s overall sound, switching gears spontaneously at will. Cousin Matthew Followill stood off to stage right, ripping through searing guitar solos, and coloring the Kings’ overall musical palette.

Holding the guitar up to his face on "Closer," Matthew played the composition’s lead lines with his teeth. "Taper Jean Girl" had the Palace’s denizens in full call and response mode, with lead singer and guitarist Caleb Followill subtly directing the flow towards the popular anthem, "Use Somebody."

Slowing down the proceedings, the brothers’ Followill treated the Palace to the evening’s high point, a hushed version of the ballad "Milk," grooving together with the tribal vibrations of "The  Bucket." Giving the Louisville fan base what they screamed for, Kings of Leon pushed through the bulk of Only By the Night‘s biggest hits, "Crawl" and "Sex on Fire." Caleb took on the wizened front man’s masked delivery, flashing strained and menacing glares at the front rows on the floor.

As the Palace audience’s collective roar escalated with each subsequent number, KOL’s dynamic pacing came to a fully flowered finale with the hard driving workouts, "Knocked Up" and "Charmer."