On tour promoting their new album, Home of the Strange, Young the Giant claimed The Greek Theatre with vigor this weekend. Consisting of Sameer Gadhia on lead vocals, Jacob Tilley on guitar, Eric Cannata on guitar/vocals, Payam Doostzadeh on bass, and Francois Comtois on drums and vocals, the SoCal natives promptly took the stage for what was branded as their hometown show. “All of our parents are here!” Cannata endearingly yelled.
In casually eclectic and colorful outfits, the band marked their presence with dance moves and wild jumps, pumping up the audience. Colorful flags from the Home of the Strange album cover adorned the stage as the band began their set with “Jungle Youth.” Gadhia’s sultry vocals, along with his Chris Martin-like energy, sent the crowd into a frenzy.
“Titus Was Born,” the fourth song in the lineup, was visually beautiful. The stage backdrop depicted the mountain from the album art and was studded with twinkling lights, emulating a starry night. Accompanied by blue stage lights and the raindrop-mimicking guitar intro, there was a universal mood of calm as Gadhia’s voice rang out into the audience: “Titus was born / In the eye of the storm / Rainwater carried his bed / Around the world and back again.” It was one of my favorite songs of the concert, so deliberately and successfully executed.
The band made sure not to leave us without the previously released hits we love. Sounding just as good live as they do on their records, Young The Giant pulled out “Cough Syrup” and had the sold-out crowd belting the catchy chorus in unison. The opening guitar strum of “Apartment” drew shrieks from fans — masses of people bobbing their heads and dancing to the well known ascending melody.
Gadhia asked the audience members to pull out lighters or phones (a more likely scenario) for the song “Firelight.” The venue was suddenly ablaze, everyone’s phone flashlights lighting the night sky. It was one of those surreal, all-in-it-together moments, looking around at hundreds and hundreds of silhouettes, all swaying to the beautifully transient moments encapsulated by Gandhia’s expertly performed phrases and falsettos.
“My Body,” the last song of the encore, was the perfect end. The entire venue took a page out of the band’s performing style and started jumping up and down, thousands of arms waving in the air. Gadhia even extended his microphone to fans at the lip of the stage, letting them take turns singing into it.
The group lingered on stage after their final bow (yes, they actually came together and bowed!), graciously shaking some extended hands and waving to the audience. They tore their set lists off the floor and handed them to various people in the front section.
Young the Giant performs in a carefree way that is rare to see from a group that has released three albums. It is simple and refreshing. In an industry arguably run by money and status, it is difficult to always feel an artist is earnest about his/her music, that it is unchanged by a label’s boardroom or determined by projected sales numbers.
But this band is different. I felt as if I were watching a group of college friends jamming together in someone’s apartment, all members there for the sole purpose of making great music that matters to them and having a good time.
Young The Giant gave fans exactly what was wanted: a no-frills, purely about the music night of alternative rock. They were humble and gracious. While the evening had very limited speaking interruptions, Gadhia made sure to take a moment to thank the crowd.
“Being a band from Southern California…you have to pay your dues here,” he said. “And being here, headlining a show at the Greek, it’s amazing. All we’ve ever done is be honest, and when we put something out there, we hope it resonates…The music and the meaning behind it, it’s been laced with you guys. So thank you very much.”
Young the Giant at The Greek Theatre setlist:
1) Jungle Youth
2) Something To Believe In
3) I Got
5) Titus Was Born
7) Cough Syrup
11) Mr. Know-It-All
12) Art Exhibit
13) Mind Over Matter
14) Nothing’s Over
15) Home of the Strange
4) My Body
For more information, please visit the band’s website.