I never went to an ‘NSYNC concert as a teenager, but I think it may have resembled something like Tuesday night’s Royal Teeth show.
As I looked at the crowd around me at the Troubadour, I wondered why there were just an inordinate number of young women in the audience. I mean, I’ve seen pictures of the band. Yes, I know frontman Gary Larsen is one skinny tie short of a puppy-dog-eyed starring role alongside Zooey Deschanel. And yes, I did once write of him that his “youthful and uneasy voice oozes the kind of discernible yearning and naive optimism that could launch 1000 fixies.” Clearly it had done just that. Just loads of fixies…with ladies on them.
The New Orleans-based dance pop sextet exploded on Tuesday night to a riotous crashing of drums from around the stage. Not only was drummer Josh Hefner wailing on his kit Animal-style (the Muppet, not the In-N-Out order), unequivocally in world of his own, but floor toms were had by three other members of the band as well. Each was festively draped and bounded in colorful ribbons fit for Mardi Gras.
The use of tribalistic, unhinged performances are rocketing up-and-coming bands up the ladder at breakneck paces as word gets around of their stage presence, and ample toms is a trend that certainly seems to be gaining traction with bands — Local Natives, Youngbloode Hawke, and Royal Teeth, to name a few — as no doubt this heart-pounding, raw attack on percussion gets the crowd in a frenzy. Larsen hit his drum with such force that after each strike he repelled from the hit like he was shot out of a cannon before then going back for more. Wallop!
After a confetti explosion on only the second song, I figured it couldn’t get much more frenetic from here. But thankfully, I was wrong. Each time Larsen endlessly emoted his lyrics, playing up the cooing harmonies of young love with co-frontwoman Nora Patterson, the audience cried out for more. With each inch closer that he and Pattesron shimmied towards one another, the screams reached new octaves.
Larsen bounded around the stage, orchestrating like a puppeteer. He pulled the audience’s each and every string as they gleefully acquiesced to his every desire. He mugged for the camera with a knowing wink as he danced atop the speakers. Larsen bent down and with his schoolboy smile, leaned into our camera, at one point literally putting his face into our lens. It was like catnip.
Sound issues derailed the band briefly mid-set, but with such heat coming from their music, it didn’t take much to get the audience back with them. The band played songs from their Act Naturally EP, but also showcased many new tunes from their forthcoming full-length, Glow, releasing August 13th. One of these songs was an ode to the band’s home state of Louisiana, “Mais La,” which was written by guitarist Stevie Billeaud. The fact that it was new seemed not to matter; the audience was quick to rally behind the song and help Larsen and Patterson emphatically rejoice in its chorus.
On Tuesday night, you would have never known that Royal Teeth had been touring, putting on shows the nights leading up to their stint at The Troubadour. Their style and energy are such that I believed they existed to perform only for me (and a couple hundred of my closest friends) here in Los Angeles.
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