What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?
Oh, how I wish that was always the case.
Unfortunately, the band Imagine Dragons has managed to escape Sin City and is busy inflicting its brand of watered-down, cliché-rich rock 'n' roll on the rest of the world.
And people are eating it up.
The Vegas band had a dominant 2013, pulling off the rare feat of scoring both the top-selling rock album ("Night Visions") and rock single ("Radioactive") of the year. It's also off to a quick start in 2014, having already nabbed a Grammy Award for best rock performance ("Radioactive") and appeared in the blockbuster CBS TV special "The Beatles: The Night That Changed America -- A Grammy Salute."
Along the way, Imagine Dragons has moved up from the club and theater circuit to packing major sports arenas.
The group's concert on Thursday night drew a capacity crowd of 14,000-plus fans to the SAP Center in San Jose, which is a ridiculously impressive accomplishment for an act with just one full-length studio album to its credit.
Yes, make no mistake, Imagine Dragons now ranks as one of the world's most popular bands.
This is not surprising. In fact, it made perfect sense as I watched the group in concert.
Imagine Dragons fulfills a need, which is to deliver mainstream rock in an era dominated by indie this and alternative that. It's the rebuttal to all the hipster bands out there, unabashedly churning out U2-style stadium anthems, classic-rock guitar solos and moves like Jagger. The group is so middle of the road that it should consider renaming itself Median Strip.
It's also very good at what it does, sanding down the rough edges of rock and making it safe for mass consumption. The group's roughly 100-minute performance was full of sanitary songs that sounded like they'd originally been written for "American Idol." All the ingredients are there, yet the result feels a little less than authentic. Imagine Dragons is to rock what Taco Bell is to Mexican food.
The show opened in notable fashion, with a flurry of lights beaming about the relatively bare-bones stage and the Dragons roaring through "Fallen," "Tiptoe" and "Hear Me." The musicianship was solid -- highlighted by Daniel Platzman's booming drums and Wayne "Wing" Sermon's cutting electric guitar -- and the set was well-paced. The whole thing felt very orderly and professional, as if we were watching a Broadway musical about a band playing a concert.
Continuing through cuts like "Amsterdam" and "The River," the group stirred thoughts of such mainstream rock champions as Maroon 5, Matchbox Twenty and Kings of Leon. The strongest comparison is to Coldplay, especially since vocalist Dan Reynolds prances about the stage -- slapping his chest, pumping his fist, working the crowd, etc. -- as if he was the valedictorian of some Chris Martin School of Rock.
Reynolds favors easy-to-get behind messages and proud proclamations, delivered in strong, straightforward fashion. He sells such lines as "I'm never changing who I am" (from "It's Time") and "I'm only a man with a candle to guide me" (from "Monster") like a used-car salesman desperate to make quota.
The group closed the main set with its greatest triumph -- "Radioactive" -- and then returned for an encore of "Nothing Left to Say." Imagine Dragons had earned the victory lap, having spent the night making the world safe once more for mainstream rock.
Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic, www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.