Essay

Maroon 5 at the Forum – How Did I Not Realize This Sooner?

Maroon 5 has quietly been pumping out hit after hit after hit for 20 years, and they all still slap.

At a certain point last night, I asked: “Am I crazy, or is Maroon 5 the greatest band of the decade?”

Maroon 5 played at the Forum in Inglewood last night. I jumped on last minute tickets in the morning and broke the usual routine for a Tuesday night excursion. I’ve been to the Forum once before for Kanye West, and I waxed nostalgic to my girlfriend  about a time when I was a “Kanye apologist” because he hadn’t yet become as problematic to follow and endorse as he has in the past month. (She herself is a Taylor Swift apologist, so we balance well.)

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-10-16,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y
Dem Flashing Lights

The Forum is a great large venue, and Maroon 5 made great use of the space by way of an isosceles triangle jutting walkway stage into the pit, their lighting, and overall showmanship- there’s no better way to say this: the group rocks live.

It’s an interesting gulf between studio and live sound. Some bands have a wider expanse between the two sounds than others: how much their music is watered down in the studio for pop-radio rotation versus what they turn it up to when there’s a crowd cheering for them. Muse, The Decemberists and now Maroon 5 are my top Jekyll and Hyde studio versus live performance groups. They’re all great to listen to on Spotify, but they beef up the sound for their concerts in a big way.

For an example of a really poor live act due to lack of that gulf? The Red Hot Chili Peppers: you can get the same experience from sitting next to a hippie smoking a joint in a public park while you listen to them on an iPod. To quote my friend Justin I saw RHCP with back in 2009: “they’re very okay live.”

As for Maroon 5, it was about halfway through the concert, when I’d been able to sing along to half the songs they played- or maybe it was later, when they persisted with hits I knew and couldn’t help dancing to with my girlfriend- I realized: Maroon 5 has quietly been pumping out hit after hit after hit for 20 years, and they all still slap.

How many other bands can claim that? How many have lodged so many melodies and lyrics so firmly in our memories across such a span?

It’s truly incredible, and I’m glad I gave into the knee jerk impulse to snag those tickets. I think the best review I can give of the concert and Maroon 5 as a whole is that at some point in the evening, my girlfriend and I agreed: we already have “our song” by another group, but Maroon 5 has earned its place as “our band.”

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