Young the Giant's
sophomore album Mind Over Matter
left me feeling a bit unsatisfied. At times I wondered where the climactic highs and equally powerful lows that defined their self-titled debut had gone. It seemed like they condensed all of their passion and creative energy into their first record, and by the time their tour ended the recording studio became a scary and unfamiliar place. Nevertheless, I missed their set at Bonnaroo in 2012 and I've been intent on seeing them ever since. I caught them last Saturday night at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC, and all of my doubts about Young the Giant were put to rest.
This was one hell of a rock show that, to me, solidified Young the Giant as one of those bands that are going to be around for a long time, always pushing the limits of what they're capable of, growing as musicians, and experimenting in unpredictable and innovative ways. The band's lead singer, Sameer Gadhia has an astoundingly creative vision for how he wants live performances to go. His voice is about as aesthetically pleasing as you'll find in any genre of music, but still every note he sings is either being deliberately echoed with a special mic or distorted using his attached synthesizer for a cosmic effect. These elongated croons are backed up by an onslaught of sound coming from the rest of the band—drawn out guitar riffs that produce a similar feeling to Radiohead's "Weird Fishes / Arpeggi," like your spinning through a sound tunnel at light speed. The raw emotion that Gadhia sings with, coupled with the intensity and originality of the musicianship of the rest of the band, creates a contagiously energetic and electric environment. They've managed to create a sound that, while acting as a chaotic whirlwind of intertwining tones, forms itself into a unified and charged sonic wall that makes you forget where and who you are, if only for a brief moment.
I have to also give a shout out to the band's opener Vance Joy
. This guy warmed up the crowd with a heartfelt performance, more genuine than you're used to seeing these days. It reminded me of the Gregory Alan Isakov show I saw last summer. Don't be surprised when you start hearing more and more about this Australian singer-songwriter, because like Young the Giant, he'll be around for a long time to come.
This concert was, if nothing else, reassurance that Young the Giant is not satisfied with anything yet. Although Mind Over Matter
wasn't my cup of tea, the energy, passion, and quality of this Saturday night performance silenced all doubt in my mind about the band. They will continue to create, and I will continue to listen, if only to be there for that moment when they perfect their sound.