[Photos by Jacob Swindell-Sakoor]
It seemed there was a running contest at Wednesday night's MOTHXR
and The Neighbourhood
show at Terminal 5: How many underage teenagers can drink the other under-the-table before the show is done? I feel like I got a two-for-one deal last night as I was surrounded by a circus of attendees putting on their own show as the musical performance was happening on stage. My first show at Terminal 5 was an experience - to say the least.
Mobs of girls wearing cut-off shorts and bralettes accompanied by guys in NBHD (abbreviation for Neighbourhood) merchandise rushed the entry doors of the venue. It was immediately clear that the majority of the attendees came for the NBHD. Inside, the floor was already full and people were packed against the upper tier railings of the venue when there was still forty-five minutes till the opener, Kevin Abstract
LA-rapper, Kevin Abstract, owned the stage for a short twenty-minute set full of energy and random props. He walked out wearing a motorcycle helmet, a plaid button-up, and Vans. A shirtless man waving an American flag joined him onstage and behind him were four people holding hands in a circle. Kevin Abstract has a unique twist to him with hints of Kid Cudi and Childish Gambino and the onstage energy of Chance the Rapper. He hopped and jumped all over the stage - at one point, even rode a scooter around - and set the energy level very high for the rest of the evening.
While I waited for MOTHXR's set, I witnessed our generation at its finest. Two girls standing next to me were mindlessly "swiping left" on Bumble (or one of those dating apps) and one of them said, "I could totally get this guys number if I wanted to... but I won't." The conversation transitioned into a five-minute rant about how a boy, "Zack" blocked her on Facebook and she has "no idea why." Out of my peripheral eyesight, I caught a glimpse of one of the girls pulling out a flask and on her hand was a big, black 'X' - signifying she was underage - and I knew I had to escape the area for my own sanity.
MOTHXR suddenly appeared on-stage looking suave and mysterious being led by frontman, Penn Badgley. Closely following Badgley was the rest of the band: Simon Ocroft, Darren Will, and Jimmy Giannopolous. They opened up with "Stranger" off their debut album Centerfold, which is a track full of synthpop fuel for your soul. Backlit in red and yellow, Badgley's haunting, enrapturing vocals crept over guitar riffs and the last line of the chorus "She thinks she knows me; I don't give a fuck at all" was especially chilling.
Next was the title-track, "Centerfold" and Badgley's evocative voice was paired with particularly dreamy instruments as the lights switched to pink and blue hues. During "Easy," Badgley showed his vocal abilities by hitting the most beautifully piercing falsettos of the night. The punctuating drumbeats and repetitive guitar riffs were stuck in my mind for the rest of the evening. "She Can't Tell" slowed things down a little with an airy and well-crafted delivery from the band paired with a tasteful auto-tune.
A highlight of MOTHXR's set was when they played "Touch" as they were closing. It's a bouncy, addictive track that utilizes energized guitar strings and Badgley's ability to switch between high and low notes flawlessly. For the end portion of "Touch," Badgley picked up his guitar and the four band members had an impromptu jam session, making it impossible for your attention to leave the stage (even when there are drunk girls talking loudly next to you).
MOTHXR can be described as a mix between R&B and dark indie with a genre-defying sophistication. They're magnetic, enchanting, and unremittingly narcotic. Some like to call it "baby makin' music" with dark, manly sultry. MOTHXR is fairly new to the music game, but they owned that stage like seasoned veterans Wednesday night.
Neighbourhood was about twenty minutes late to take the stage. The poor choice of slow, dragging songs in between sets only caused more anticipation and restlessness in the crowd. People were dropping like flies at this point. I witnessed a security guard (literally) carrying an extremely wasted girl out of the venue with a few of her friends. The vibe completely shifted and it was barely 10pm (but it was a school night, mind you).
The lead singer of The Neighbourhood, Jesse Rutherford, walked out on stage with his arms in the air, sporting an extremely hip, patched-up leather jacket. The Southern California rock band jumped into their opening track, which was appropriately called "Greetings From Califournia." The entire room snapped out of the exhaustion that was taking over their bodies as their yawns turned into ear-piercing screams.
Two girls handed flower bouquets to Rutherford and it was all very clear that these girls had a classic case of Jesse Rutherford swooning. To add fuel to the fire, with each opening song that passed, Rutherford would strip one piece of clothing till he was left with only his bare, very tattooed chest. Now just add his tambourine-shaking and hip-swaying and you officially have a room full of screeching eye-heart emojis.
Backlit by the most intense white lights I've ever seen, The Neighbourhood went right into a hit track from Wiped Out!
"Crybaby" - an upbeat dance track which added a fun singalong to break up the sobbing whimpers of the predominantly female room. The Neighbourhood continued with a few more songs from Wiped Out!
such as the heartbreaking, raw and emotional track "Daddy Issues" and brought the vibes back up with the upbeat, "Single," which displays lullaby-like instrumentals.
Towards the second half of The Neighbourhoods set, the fangirl in me started to come out as they played some of the songs from their debut-EP Im Sorry
starting with the hip-hop blended favorite, "Female Robbery," and the dark and haunting track, "Wires." In both these songs, the band took a little break from being a rock band and let Rutherford's stripped down vocals shine.
During "Afraid" from their first EP I Love You.
, the room erupted into unified choir-style singing - especially during the line, "fuck you anyway," which I like to believe that we all have someone to direct that to. The crowd started stumbling to the exit during "Jealou$y," which left me a little puzzled because that's one of my favorites - I assumed it's because of their curfew. And you can't go to a Neighbourhood show without a little "Sweater Weather," which is one of their catchiest tracks.
At the end of the night, I was very impressed to see three phenomenal sets in one show but four hours in Terminal 5 is four hours too many. From hip-hop and R&B to dark indie and rock, Kevin Abstract, MOTHXR, and The Neighbourhood covered all aspects of the spectrum for an incredible night of music.