Every December, Portland is hit with holiday spirit. Lights take over the streets and Christmas trees stand tall in shop windows, all centered around the heart of the city and a giant tree in Pioneer Courthouse Square. As winter approaches in the Rose City, while the lights shine bright and the shoppers go from store to store, music fans gather in the Crystal Ballroom for their own celebration of the season.
Though KNRK’s December to Remember has seen many homes throughout the years, since 2013, the Crystal Ballroom has given shelter to all of the station’s holiday extravaganzas. However, this year, 94/7 shot for the moon, and brought a show so big to the holiday bash that the Crystal Ballroom’s space just wouldn’t do.
Back in 2012, one night of December to Remember found its home in the massive Moda Center (then the Rose Garden). That night saw host to Tegan and Sara, M83, and the headliner, The Killers. Since then, Tegan and Sara have returned for their own shows, and M83 played the Roseland Theater this year, but The Killers have remained absent from the Portland concert scene.
Cut to 2017 and the December to Remember lineup announcement. Though much of the lineup would still remain shrouded in mystery for a few more days, 94/7 let us in on one massive secret. With their latest album, Wonderful Wonderful, in tow, The Killers were returning to Portland, and taking on the same stage and December event that they did five years before.
On the night of December 7, a sold-out crowd made their way into the Moda Center’s Theater of the Clouds. As people took their seats with drinks in hand, or pushed up close to the stage in the crowd on the floor, the night’s first act warmed us up.
Also December to Remember alumni, Franz Ferdinand brought new songs off their upcoming album, Always Ascending, to the stage, demonstrating their unwaning ability to captivate and rock harder every show. The last time the indie rockers were in Portland, they played to a full Roseland Theater. There, the punch they packed was hard, loud and mesmerizing. Their ability to fill a room with energy shows even more with an arena at their disposal. Even in the very highest spot of the seated section, the electricity was palpable. New songs hit with energetic force, while classic hits spread a wildfire of nostalgia, with the entire crowd screaming along to “Take Me Out.”
Franz Ferdinand’s 45-minute opening set was a spectacle in itself, delivering all the stage presence, crowd response and energy you’d look for in a headline set. But the night had just begun, and The Killers' return to the Portland stage loomed near.
Now with every seat filled and the floor overflowing with bodies eagerly anticipating their arrival, the lights dimmed down and Brandon Flowers and crew made their overdue return.
As soon as their set began, the energy skyrocketed. Confetti blasted out on the crowd during the first chorus, setting the scene for what the rest of the show would bring.
As soon as Flowers' voice echoed throughout the arena, emotions in the crowd ran high. Many fans had grown up listening to The Killers, blasting them in their rooms in high school, even naming them their favorite band. For hundreds of Portland fans that night, 94/7 made their dreams come true.
The Killers kept the energy, the power and the noise levels on the up and up, going straight from a confetti-filled “The Man” into the massive fan favorite, “Somebody Told Me.” They tore through hits spanning their whole career, from the critically acclaimed Hot Fuss to their latest record, Wonderful Wonderful, even finding time for a cover of Joy Division’s “Shadowplay.”
One moment at the end of the show made for a memory nobody in the room would soon forget.
Looking out into the sold-out arena, Flowers spoke to the masses.
“Sometimes,” he said. “Life is really tough. But you know what, guys? Sometimes it’s not.”
A massive scream echoed out, accompanied by the recognizable chords of “Mr. Brightside.” Flowers began to sing along with a crowd that sang at the volume of an entire city.
It was that moment of emotion, of childhood dreams and early aughts nostalgia bleeding out into a packed arena, that made for a memorable event. Leaving the venue, people talked to each other, some in tears, all happy, reflecting on the show they had just witnessed. The holidays are always a time to make memories, and be joyous with the people you love. And in this winter month in Portland, 94/7 always makes sure we make these special memories with the music we love.