Kings of Leon Overcome New York's General Sense of Apathy and Malaise

Kings of Leon in concert. Photo: Lucy Hamblin/Retna

In a VH1 interview last month, singer Caleb Followill dished out a light dis on New York, saying that although he likes the city itself, “the shows there are usually pretty bad, because the crowds are really pretentious. You feel like everybody there is in a band, and they could do better than you.” Having seen plenty of otherwise good bands go flat in front of discerning (okay, lame) city crowds, we don’t entirely disagree. But that wasn’t the problem last night: From the moment the Kings climbed onstage to the sounds of a gorgeous choral hymn, the crowd was loud, lusty, and acting very un–New York. Followill (joined by brothers Jared, and Nathan, and cousin Matthew) seemed impressed: “You’re much better than when we were here last year,” he admitted. As if in response, a bout of summer-festival-style overhead clapping began without any coaxing during the rousing, slow-burn anthem “True Love Way.” The unflattering acoustics in the hangarlike Roseland Ballroom didn’t do much for tight, punchy numbers like the usually danceable “My Party” and “King of the Rodeo,” but even a crap venue can’t do much to ruin the bluesy, pregnant-teenage-runaway epic “Knocked Up,” which the brothers Followill smartly saved for the encore. Roseland lapped it up, and two songs later, they set aside their instruments and stood center stage while New York blew them a big, wet kiss. We hope they learned their lesson: We might be pretentious, but we don’t hold a grudge. —Jon Steinberg