Featuring: Grace VanderWaal, Cameron Esposito and A.W. ‘The festival was a great way to make everyone feel loved and supported’

Dan Reynolds / Grace VanderWaal at LOVELOUD

It’s been quite a remarkable summer for Imagine Dragons; a 42-date/ two-month-long North American tour that just concluded on August 10th, the official release of the documentary Believer, and show # 33 on the extensive itinerary — hosting and headlining the LOVELOUD festival, held this past July 28th in Salt Lake City.

The second annual LOVELOUD fest, which was started by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds, stood for just what says– an outpouring of love and support through a medium of music. With a million dollars raised and countless voices empowered, Reynolds and team have pioneered a movement that has only just begun in providing encouragement for LGBTQ youth. One where the sky is the limit. As the curtains closed on the festival with Reynolds appropriately shouting “Believer” and taking a well-deserved moment to himself down on the stage, soaking in and letting out the emotion, the word “thank you” permeated the airwaves for days to come. The same would hold true as the band wrapped up their tour in Tampa — Reynolds thanking fans and supporters alike for jumping in with them and not only being a part of the wave, but causing one.

Imagine Dragons does not have to do this. They could easily go about their business, play shows, write great songs and continue to ride the foundation that got them to where they are. My gut tells me this is where they would meet me eye-to-eye and say, “Yes, we do have to do this.” Believer is an incredibly moving documentary. Early into the narrative you see Reynolds reading emails from fans reaching out sharing how much his music has helped them or expressing fear in being who they are and not being accepted in their religious community because of who they love. Countless examples follow — showing you how close the band is to this subject matter and how deeply they care. They recognize they have a platform and if nothing more, by walking up those stairs each night and ascending onto a stage before adoring fans, they have courageously opted to use their voice in an effort of sincerity.

That is beyond applaudable. Just the thought that spurs the effort is inspiring and another example of the arts leading the way. It is my hope that this short ramble glides along the same course Reynolds has paved while at the same time serves as a reciprocating pound that bumps the Believer fist raised proudly in the air. It is only appropriate for the thank you to be returned. With that in mind, I had the great fortune of collaborating with LOVELOUD artists, Grace Vander Waal (who also supported Imagine Dragons summer tour), A.M. and host Cameron Esposito to reflect upon the powerful experience.

Reynolds / Imagine Dragons

Grace VanderWaal:

LOVELOUD was an amazing experience. The whole day had the best energy, it felt like everyone was just spreading this message of love. I was thrilled and honored to be a part of it.

This movement is so important especially in today’s world, where you have many people struggling to feel like they fit in. The festival was a great way to make everyone feel loved and supported no matter who they are.

Grace VanderWaal

Cameron Esposito:

It was incredible to be with so many friends and artists I respect and care for, and to welcome such a warm audience to the festival. Next year I wanna do some standup, not just host! (Have me back next year, Dan.)

Queer folks are family to me, and I will go to as many lengths as I possibly can to support that family. It means a lot that we’re not fighting, celebrating and thriving alone, but with the support of some solid allies.

Festival host, Cameron Esposito, Tegan Quin (of Tegan & Sara), Dan Reynolds


It was easily one of my favorite shows we’ve ever played. The whole event was so well-planned and managed, it was nothing but fun. The coolest part was probably looking out into the crowd and seeing so many different types of people, all dancing and singing together.

LOVELOUD is so much more than a hashtag or an awareness campaign. The festival raised $1M for three incredible organizations whose work with queer youth is invaluable. In our current political state, it’s painful to see so many mainstream artists choose to keep quiet and not rock the boat for fear of being “too political”. I have so much respect for Imagine Dragons and Dan Reynolds in particular for standing up and using his platform to create real change.


“Love is not a product of reasonings and statistics. It just comes — none knows whence — and cannot explain itself. Love is a madness, if thwarted it develops fast. When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain.” 
~ Dan Reynolds, “Skipping Stones”

For more information visit: LOVELOUDFest.com

  • all photos by: Jerod Harris / Getty Images for LOVELOUD

AW recent Imagine Dragons features include:
How Imagine Dragons Are Empowering Voices Everywhere
What Happens When You Take Your Kid to Their First Concert?

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Produced by/in collaboration with Jeff Gorra:

~ follow Jeff Gorra here on twitter

~ jeffgorra@artistwaves.com