If you ever want to feel soul-crushingly ancient at only 26, go to a show and hear high school seniors talk about college admissions. You will immediately seek out the nearest bar and drink your existential "I'm getting old" despair away. I traveled to the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Wednesday to catch the Mowgli's
play a headlining set with Night Riots
and Hippo Campus
; we also managed to snag some exclusive behind-the-scenes photos that we'll be running when we air our session with the Mowgli's from SXSW this year. And the only possible cure for my exiting my mid-20s existential malaise was the sheer energy & fun of every single act that performed that night.
The evening opened with Minnesota natives Hippo Campus. The band played on Conan
last month, and if their performance on Wednesday was any indication, it won't be long before they're headlining rooms like the Music Hall themselves. Hippo Campus's danceable sound is hard to easily categorize. It's Walk the Moon with an edge. It's the deceptively unique guitar work of Real Estate if you could dance to Real Estate. It's the funky punk of the Dismemberment Plan if they were a pop band. Hippo Campus is the definition of an exciting up & coming act, and I wouldn't mind stealing the lead singer's purple 90s throwback windbreaker.
We were already familiar with second opener, Night Riots. We just premiered an exclusive session with the band. And while Night Riots' gloom pop struck me initially as an odd choice to open for the Mowglis, their cinematic and enormous sound filled up the entirety of the Music Hall & got the audience dancing to tracks like "Contagious" and "Shine." The percussive synth-energy of the band helps Night Riots transcend their more goth-inspired sonic roots transforming lead singer Travis Hawley into the unholy but extraordinarily talented love child of Robert Smith & Brandon Flowers. I must admit that I've been playing "Contagious" non-stop since the show ended.
But, of course, the audience was there for the Mowgli's. The Cali pop-rockers have been exploding ever since the smash success of "San Francisco" in 2013, and they've only been growing since. The audience was dancing with scary intensity during both of the openers, but the Mowgli's managed to get the audience to another level with just their first song, and that energy never died for the rest of the night.
Each member of the band -- but especially Colin Diedien and Katie Earl -- ooze presence, and they orchestrated the audience through hand-claps, sing-alongs, and a several hundred person dance-party. The ease with which the audience was shouting back the words to even the band's newest record, Kids In Love
, which only came out this year speaks to the intense bond the Mowgli's have already formed with their fans. I'm sadly no longer young enough to dance and party as much as this band's fans were -- and there was a strong smell of...ganja the whole set coming from the crowd -- but the passion of the fans made me wish I had that kind of energy to let loose.
This is clearly going to be an incredibly fun tour, and it's only just gotten started. I definitely felt older than I ever have in my entire life between sets as I realized that less than a quarter of the crowd had over 21 wristbands, and there were more high schoolers present than I'd seen at any show I've ever attended as an adult. But, there's such youthful energy to the Mowgli's that it's only natural they'd attract such a loyal and energetic young following. Even if you're an old man like me, you should catch the Mowgli's when they come to your town.