by: Jane Seidel
Show Date: July 8, 2014
Location: Raleigh, NC
Venue: Red Hat Amphitheater
When the Neighbourhood took the stage in Raleigh on July 8, it was anything but sweater weather – an oppressive 98 degrees – but that didn’t stop the band from putting on an enthusiastic show for a crowd of sweaty, excited fans.
My friend and I arrived at Red Hat Amphitheater a few minutes before doors opened and soon found ourselves in the pit, roughly five rows from the stage. I was surprised to see that the venue was only about a third filled, considering almost every show I have attended at this venue was sold out. The crowd was composed predominately of well-dressed teenage girls, with occasional pockets of twenty-something guys who looked slightly out of place. I ended up surrounded by teenage girls, and we all collectively bonded over our shared music taste.
After an hour of waiting, White Arrows, a five-piece indie band from Los Angeles walked on stage and were greeted by a mildly enthusiastic and probably dehydrated crowd. Though the crowd seemed sleepy at first, after one song, everyone seemed to liven up, bouncing and clapping along to their summery indie rock sound. Infused with psychedelic synth as well as tribal drum beats, their music has a colorful and energetic vibe, one that the crowd quickly took a liking to. I immediately recognized the opening synth and drum beats of their song “Get Gone” from both their recent debut album “Dry Land Is Not A Myth.” Despite the heat, Mickey Church, lead singer, bounced around the stage during a few songs, occasionally spraying the crowd with water bottles. While their first four songs were smooth and energetic, the rest of their set was riddled with technical difficulties. Static, warbled acoustics, and skewed synth made for an uncomfortable second half of a set. The band was visibly stressed and upset, but the crowd attempted to make up for the short comings by cheering loudly every time something went wrong. As the band finished their last song, the crowd let out a loud burst of applause as they exited the stage.
After another thirty minute wait, a DJ walked on stage, began playing hype music that you usually hear at football games, and continually instructed the crowd to “get hype.” (Only the pockets of guys followed this command by jumping and yelling; the girls casually threw one hand up and let out a quiet “whoo.”) Soon, a rapper by the name of Travi$ Scott walked on stage and began fiercely rapping at the crowd, shouting commands to “put our hands up” and throwing bottles of water at us. While some embraced the bass-heavy beats, some stood with their arms crossed and eyes rolled. It was clear that only a portion of the audience was here for this act; most were confused as to why a rapper was opening for an indie band. I was also confused. He did provide a few encouraging words to the chill crowd, though, saying, “I wanna see everybody up, having a good time, living their life like they’re grateful to be alive.” He drew the largest rise from the crowd when his final song, “Don’t Play,” began with a sample of The 1975’s “M.O.N.E.Y.” The crowd cheered loudly as he exited the stage after performing about ten songs, and after pouring roughly two dozen bottles of water on the crowd.
As the sun was setting behind the amphitheater, the smoke machine kicked on and Jeremy, Zach, Mikey, and Brandon of The Neighbourhood walked on stage and picked up their instruments. After a few measures of intro music, lead singer Jesse Rutherford burst onto the stage, greeted the elated crowd, and immediately broke into the band’s dark but mellow single “Female Robbery,” as the crowd enthusiastically sang along. They smoothly transitioned into “Everybody’s Watching Me,” and at the command of the lead singer, everyone’s hands went up and stayed up throughout the song. Though their songs have a mellow, chilled out sound to them, Rutherford flitted across the stage with enthusiasm and intensity, dancing and moving with the rhythm of the songs and encouraging the crowd to do the same. The band’s stage set up was minimal: a small screen behind the drum set to flash images and mirrored boxes along the edge of the stage for Rutherford to jump on were all they needed. And though The Neighbourhood didn’t throw water on the crowd like the openers did, the crowd picked up where they left off, and continued to throw water around in the pit throughout the show.
While their music has a bit of a dark, gritty vibe to it, their live performances are vibrant and energetic, filled with lighthearted crowd interaction and banter. They even debuted a few new songs, which blended effortlessly into a set mainly composed of songs from their debut album “I Love You.” Before the show started, a boy near me scoffed, “I wonder how many people are here just because of Sweater Weather.” Apparently, not many: the crowd cheered and sang along with equal enthusiasm throughout almost every song. They ended the set with their single “Afraid,” and during the damning verse that exclaims, “I don’t like you, f*** you anyway,” the crowd as well as Rutherford threw their middle fingers up. Keeping in line with their minimal black and white theme, their backdrop flashed black with white “THE END” text as the band exited the stage. And though the evening started with a few bumps in the road, the band left the audience with a feeling of the fulfillment that only comes after an incredible show. This is the Neighbourhood’s final tour for the “I Love You.” album; once finished, they’ll head back to the studio to work on their sophomore record.
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