Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds Talks Vegas Strong Benefit and Healing After 1 October

On the morning of November 28, it was announced that Imagine Dragons were nominated for two 2018 Grammy awards. The band has now raked in four nominations and one Grammy win since catapulting from patio shows at Beauty Bar to international rock stardom five years ago.

Vegas Seven caught up with frontman Dan Reynolds on the afternoon of November 28 shortly after the announcement , not to talk about awards, but to discuss the December 1 Vegas Strong Benefit Concert at T-Mobile Arena, a fundraiser organized for the victims and families affected by the 1 October attack at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. While prepping for their upcoming international tours, and for Reynolds’ Utah-based Love Loud festival for LQBTQ youth, the band made time to assemble an all-star lineup of Las Vegas native or nurtured talent for the concert, including fellow rockers The Killers, comedian Jay Leno, Boyz II Men, Cirque du Soleil, Blue Man Group, Carrot Top, David Copperfield, Penn & Teller and Washington Nationals baseball star Bryce Harper.

“This is the city that I know and love,” Reynolds says. “It’s incredible to see so many entertainers come together who represent the city in one way or another, who love this city, to put together an event to raise money for the victims and their families. It’s also an event for people in Las Vegas to come together and to feel a sense of unity and healing and to enjoy a concert and show resilience.”

Photo by Jesse J Sutherland

Dan Reynolds at Life is Beautiful 2015

How did this concert come together?

It really started by reaching out to our management as a band. We told them that we wanted to do something to raise money and do more than just showing our condolences on social media. We wanted to take action in some way for the city that I love and the city that I was born and raised in and that I live in with my whole family, still. We knew that The Killers also wanted to do something so we got together with them, did some brainstorming and started to put together a show with the promoters and people who know how to do these sorts of things. We reached out to some friends who are entertainers here in Las Vegas and they all were awesome and came on board. It’s amazing to see how it came together so easily. There were so many people who wanted to help and be a part of it all.

How have the events of 1 October impacted you as a Las Vegan?

We had just played Vegas two days prior to the shooting. We had just walked offstage in Los Angeles to the news. We turned on the television at the venue and everyone was just silent. We were sharing hugs and tears and making frantic phone calls with family and friends to make sure everybody was OK. I spoke with my best friend from childhood who was bartending that night. He saw people get shot right next to him. He barely escaped, jumped in a stranger’s car and sped off. I had a tearful conversation with him. He’s still healing. There’s still healing to be done. With that being said, it’s been really beautiful to come home to Las Vegas this past week. [The shooting] comes up in most conversations with family and friends but, above all, the conversation is that Vegas has been so united and so strong and closer than ever after this. People are coming out of the woodwork trying to help, trying to do something, putting arms around each other. That’s the Las Vegas that I know and the Las Vegas that a lot of the world doesn’t know.

Does it feel different to be onstage now? Does it change the way you do your job?

I think it has. It became the theme of this [North American] tour. It became one of more passion, more love, more need for unity in this time that can seem quite scary and also divided in a lot of ways. We went onstage every night and [1 October] was on our mind. Vegas was on our mind. The need for not just Vegas to heal, but multiple cities across the U.S. to heal. As a country, we have a lot of healing to do. I [felt] extra emotion and energy onstage every night to get up there and take every night seriously and never take it for granted—to bring a really special show to the people every night so that they could escape out of their minds and out of their hearts and just be free for an evening. It definitely has left a lasting impact on the last few months.

What do people outside of the city ask you most about Las Vegas?

They ask me if there’s really a community and culture. My answer is always “yes,” especially within the last few years. The city is continuing to advance and have our own sense of spirit and culture and community. It’s always been there, but I really feel like in the last decade, I’ve been more and more proud to be from Las Vegas and what that represents, especially in these last few months. I’m just so incredibly proud of this city.

Vegas Strong Benefit Concert, 6:30 p.m. on December 1 at T-Mobile Arena, $75-125, proceeds to benefit the Las Vegas Victims Fund,