Imagine Dragons are always looking to connect with the people who love their music. As singer Dan Reynolds puts it, "We're just consistently trying to find ways to give back to the fans and break down the wall that exists between us and them." The same week that the Las Vegas band's Smoke + Mirrors debuted at the top of the Billboard album chart, they did this by playing a series of low-capacity shows, dubbed Destination Dragons, at some of their favorite venues. "We just went and played a lot of small clubs around the U.S. that we started playing six years ago," he says. "Places like Vegas, Utah and Atlanta." En route to the last of those cities, they played a particularly intimate gig in – of all places – the first-class section of their cross-country flight on Southwest Airlines from Las Vegas to Atlanta, rewarding contest winners with one of the most unusual performances they'll ever see. Check out photos of all the action.
Guitarist Wayne Sermon gets his boarding pass at Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport.
Imagine Dragons head back to a holding area after a photo-op.
Waiting in the jetway, Imagine Dragons look over copies of their new album, Smoke + Mirrors. Copies would be given to every passenger on the plane.
"I didn't really know how we were gonna perform on a plane, to be honest with you," says Reynolds. "Just because it's so small and the acoustics are so terrible."
"We just got a couple little amps and plugged into them," Reynolds says. "Then we grabbed the speakerphone that the attendant speaks through and put it next to the P.A. It was kind of blasting out of a bad P.A. into a bad P.A."
"There were some people who weren't even part of the Destination Dragons thing," says Reynolds. "I felt bad for people who got trapped on the plane and don't care about Imagine Dragons, but they seemed to be good sports about it."
"It was just kind of a low-key hangout on an airplane," says Reynolds. "I can't think of any specific conversations – other than just meeting people, saying hi to them asking what they think of the new album."
Imagine Dragons mini-cupcakes.
On the ground in Georgia, the band prepares for the next show.
The band members go over what they'll be playing
The band signs CDs and merch. "At the end of the day the fans are all that really matter," says Reynolds. "They're the ones that let you do what you do."
The band relaxes in the mood lighting of the green room.
The band poses with fans.
Reynolds reads a fan letter.
Drummer Daniel Platzman didn't have room to play his drums on the flight, but he makes his triumphant return on stage.
"When we started as a band I would say that our crowd was primarily college kids," says Reynolds. "Now that it's crossed over to Top 40 radio, it's really opened up the range of people that come out to the shows. It's cool, because it's all ages."
Imagine Dragons salute their fans. "They're the ones who support us," says Reynolds. "Really the least you can do as a band is make the effort to make the experience more exciting for them. I think especially now, with social media, it's so easy to interact with them. If you're not doing it, it seems kind of ungrateful to me."
Guitarist Wayne Sermon sits with his boxed dinner in the band's van, waiting for the others to board.
Platzman sits in the van.
Reynolds is happy with how Destination Dragons worked out, but disappointed to learn that the Black Eyed Peas still hold the record for highest-altitude concert. "We're making plans right now to get on one of the first flights to outer space," he says, probably joking. "We're gonna bring some fans with us."