Echoing a sentiment I have believed for years, lead vocalist of The Neighbourhood Jesse Rutherford announced to thousands of concertgoers at The Greek Theatre last night that “California is the best place in the entire fucking world.” The packed theater applauded loudly in agreement, a back and forth routine that would be repeated often during the warm Los Angeles summer evening.
Having skyrocketed to national attention this past year, The Neighbourhood continuously thanked the audience for “welcoming [them] home” after a long period of touring. The wait was worth it as the Cali-based band played all of their mesmerizing hits, including “A Little Death” and “Let It Go.” The monochromatic light show pulsed along as smoke continuously poured onstage and trippy black and white images played on the screens. Casey Veggies even made an onstage appearance during “Jealou$y,” a track from the upcoming #000000 & #FFFFFF mixtape.
While I knew The Neigbourhood’s hypnotic tracks would be just as electrifying live, I had no idea Rutherford was such a sex symbol among female fans. He was quite aware, however, as he gyrated to guitarist Jeremy Freedman’s slicing solos and collected bras thrown onstage, slinging each one over his mic stand.
At just 22, Rutherford’s confidence was sky high as he swaggered across the stage in sunglasses, taking liberties with the melodies of “Wires” and “Honest.” While his velvety, R&B-infused vocal runs were impressive, I could have done without the moment he held the microphone up to a female fan who announced, “I’ll suck your dick!”
Almost every song paid homage to California, particularly “West Coast” during which Rutherford proudly declared, “I’m so West Coast it’s a goddamn shame,” and the band’s breakout hit “Sweater Weather” had thousands loudly singing along. The encore began with Rutherford explaining in typical rock star fashion, “We can only play one song because they’re being pussies about the cut off time,” before the opening chords of “Afraid” rang out. It was the song every audience member recognized as they all recorded snippets on their respective phones and swayed along to the throbbing synthesizers.
The Neighbourhood quickly left the stage, Rutherford flipping off the audience as he sauntered off. Post-show, I struggled to walk on the sidewalks as they were packed by fans waiting by tour buses in hopes of one last glimpse of the band. I felt somewhat in the minority that night as someone who came for the music (and not to swoon over Rutherford), but there was no question that the performance blew me away both visually and musically.
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