The boys in The Neighbourhood
walked onstage last night at the Ed Sullivan Theater, seeming young but confident. The drummer wore a black t-shirt that said Compton, with cut-off sleeves, and the rest of the band were also shrouded in dark fabrics, except the singer Jesse Rutherford, who appeared as a study in contrast: hair half dark, half bleached; a leather jacket half painted white; skinny black jeans with one white leg. They looked very cool, both macho and flamboyant.
They opened up with "Let it Go," a slow-building number from their first EP, and which also appeared on an episode of the vampire-drama The Originals
. The mostly female audience knew every word. The band followed up with another couple of mid-tempo jams, before going into "West Coast," an interesting mash-up between delta blues and rap. Rutherford's lyrics are pretty silly ("It's almost sundown already, so I hopped up, barely washed up, ate some pasta"), but the bold mix of musical styles works well. Live, their hip-hop influences shine through more vividly than on their records, which is a good thing.
After another half-dozen songs, including their biggest hit, "Sweater Weather," Rutherford and The Neighbourhood said thank you and good night. It seems likely that these guys are going to get popular - they are good looking, write catchy songs, and know how to take command of an audience even in such a strange setting as the Live on Letterman show. Hopefully they will begin to explore other tempos, though, than the sleepy range that they mostly occupy. Their swagger could need a little energy.
Watch the band perform "Afraid" for Letterman and guests prior to the webcast: