The Neighbourhood plays the Pageant


Though it’s borderline fangirling to acknowledge, there’s something captivating about being within thirty feet of some of the American music industry’s most talented musicians — especially when those musicians are lead singer Jesse Rutherford, lead guitarist Jeremy Freedman, rhythm guitarist Zach Abels, bassist Mikey Margott and drummer Brandon Fried, who comprise the Neighbourhood. On March 14, the band, accompanied by solo Electronic Dance Music (EDM) artist Born Casual and indie rock group Kitten, played a sold out, two-and-a-half hour show at the Pageant on the Delmar Loop. While the opening acts offered only minimal audience participation, the artists themselves made up for that with their charisma and general musical talent. And, of course, as the headliners of the tour, The Neighbourhood had at least a 1,000 person crowd in their hands with a blend of fan favorites reoriented for a live performance and songs from their genesis as a band and their soon to be released album, “#000000 & #FFFFFF” (the hex color codes for black and white.)

Casual might be the most accurate description of the first act, Born Casual. It took me til the end of his performance to realize that he wasn’t just a pageant staff member playing ambiance music. One of the setbacks of the Pageant is a line starts forming in the afternoon, and the crowd is only let into the venue right as the concert is about start so a majority of the people miss some or all of the first act. So when I entered, Born Casual was already playing, adding to my confusion.

Adorned in an ever so stunning shorts and a t-shirt, the artist’s setup consisted of his Macbook and a mixing station. In essence, he lived mixed an hours worth of songs from his iTunes library. While there’s a common misconception that EDM artists just sit up there and occasionally press the space bar, the truth behind live mixing is it’s actually harder to accomplish because the artist has to transition between every song (usually songs that would not go together) and mistakes are considerably more obvious in a live performance.

What really made his performance was the lack of effort that he looked like he was putting forth. Even his ending seemed natural; he built up to a sudden stop, bowed and waved as he was carrying his cart off the stage. Highlighting songs such as “Clique” by Kanye West, “Just Hold On, We’re Going Home” by Drake and “Drunk in Love” by Beyoncé/Jay Z, Born Casual’s performance had even the most reluctant people nodding their heads and tapping their feet.

The backstory is what made the next act’s performance so interesting. Kitten, a band with only one founding member left, Chloe Chaidez, has replaced seven members since 2009. Chaidez, who was opening for professional bands by age 12 was not lacking in talent as much as she was in a distinct style. The band with which she performed for the Charli XCX tour last October rejoined her for the tour Le Tour Noire with The Neighbourhood, and it was clear that their style clicked with her post-punk style reminiscent of the late 70s, while incorporating new wave elements in both appearance and synth layers. Kitten honed in on the punk aspect of live performance, and exhilarated the crowd with their best aspect, their energy. The highlight of the night was watching Chaidez climb on literally everything, including at one point one of the security guards, unprompted. The performance makes me look forward to a full-length album from the band, perpetuating them down the road, musically speaking.

Regretfully, one of Chaidez’ closing comments summed up the night for probably half of the attendees. “You excited for the Neighbourhood? Yeah, they’re all really cute!” followed by an armada of applause. It’s not objectionable for attendees to have heard hits such as “Sweater Weather” and “Afraid” and enjoy the band because those are truly artistic and well-written songs.  However, it’s wonderful to know that said attendees remained to listen to some of their other songs, because there is some profound meaning behind the band’s earlier songs, such as “Let it Go” and “Wires” and that was apparent in the delivery of Rutherford’s lyrics.

As for visual aesthetics aside from attractiveness, the band’s ability to play around with black and white imagery was phenomenal even in the stage setup. The stage was half black and half white, and then the band members and their instruments were the opposite color on top of it. Rutherford himself stood in the middle with his hair dyed half black and half white. All of this of course built anticipation and excitement when they played a few nameless songs from their new album, so appropriately title based off of the imagery.

Rutherford himself was exceptional at playing to his strengths, playing with his own vocal melodies, using the stronger parts of his range, and even adding a half-time drop at the end of “W.D.Y.W.F.M.?” His choice to not telegraph their final performance by ending with their most popular tune, “Sweater Weather,” was tactically creative and kept me waiting for another preview from their album. It’s startling that the band has only been together for three years, because their stage presence suggests that they are veterans.