A generous sized crowd came out to the Greek Theatre on Tuesday night to see California hometown band, The Neighbourhood .I’ve been a fan of theirs for a little while now and like many others, I first heard of them when “Sweater Weather” took over the alternative airwaves back in 2013. The song would often get stuck in my head and I dug it…but not enough to dive all in and find out much more about the band.
That being said, I kept stumbling upon songs on random playlists that I really liked and would come to find out it was none other than The NBHD. Hmm…maybe I should look into these dudes? I thought. I also remember thinking that the reason why I didn’t instantly recognize who the artist was, is because The NBHD are such a hybrid of genres and many of their songs have a completely different feel to them from one track to the next.
They have been described as indie rock, alternative, R&B, hip -hop, dark, electropop… the list goes on and on…and at some point I stop trying to find an accurate label and settle for “they make me dance, they make me sing along- they’re good.” For some bands, to have such a diverse and consistently changing sound, it might be a big mistake when trying to build a solid fan base, but somehow the lads in The NBHD have managed to make it work. The nearly sold out show proved that the fans don’t mind and are behind them, whatever they do.
Before Tuesday night, I had never been to one of their shows, so I was happy to get the chance to experience the music live and make a solid judgement as to whether I would call myself an actual fan or not, because for me, it’s all about the live show.
Immediately when I walked into the beautiful Greek Theatre, I noticed there were no lines at the bars- like none! What the what? Was the show a bust? Confused, I made my way further inside the venue and quickly realized that the show was not a bust…just predominantly super young females. Ah yes…I almost forgot about the swoon factor that lead singer Jesse Rutherford is known to bring to the table. I had heard he was popular with the ladies, but I didn’t know it was on a ‘childhood me at a New Kids on the Block concert level’. These girls were definitely thirsty… but unfortunately for the bar staff at the venue, not for dranks (that’s what the cool kids say right?) but rather, for a tall glass of tattooed bad boy. I’m not sure my ears were prepared for the high pitched squeals they were about to endure, but before The NBHD took the stage, there were two opening acts.
First up was Kid Bloom, whom are also from LA. The quintet looked like characters out of Dazed and Confused and their music matched this psychedelic vibe, with a very 70’s funk, pop rock feel to it. The band played a handful of songs that were well received by the crowd. A stand out song was one called “Electric U”. It got the crowd swaying with it’s groovy beats.
Next up was New Yorker, Porches, another artist who had the girls hootin’ and hollering. Dressed in a leather jacket and oversized slacks, Porches, aka Aaron Maine, took the stage solo. Judging by his look, I would’ve guessed him to be a rockabilly type of guy but the music he played was more dreamy, synth-pop than rock n roll. He played a number of songs from his new album “The House”. The songs had simple and danceable beats but they weren’t catchy enough to hook me in. Halfway through the set he threw his leather jacket off and dropped to his knees, emphasizing some evocative lyrics. The crowd loved it. I wasn’t as into it as the gaggle of gals near me, but overall, Porches was entertaining and did a good job warming up the crowd for the final act.
Finally it was time for The Neighbourhood. The crowd cheered in anticipation as members Jeremy Freedman, Zach Abels, Mikey Margott and Brandon Fried took their spots on the dark, smoky stage and began playing the opening notes of “How” from 2013’s album, I Love You. Shortly after, Rutherford, dressed in jeans and a patched up, collar studded, black Dickies jacket, emerged on stage to deafening squeals. He sang from the middle of the dimly lit stage, and the screams continued to get louder. Finally the lights flashed bright enough to see the frontman and holy hell did the crowd lose it! I looked around and everyone was singing and dancing along- they were in heaven!
They transitioned straight into the second song “R.I.P. 2 My Youth”, from 2015’s Wiped Out and it was clear, even this early on, that this was going to continue to be a high level, no one’s sitting down all night, kind of show. Rutherford jumped down from the stage to sing up close and personal with the adorning fans, and I started to get the fuss of all the fan-girls. The guy’s got major charisma and I can totally see my friends losing it for him if we were, oh -fifteen, twenty years younger. But even at my age, (which a true lady never reveals) I can appreciate a good swagger and he’s got it!
During the next song, “Dust”, Rutherford sang while swinging across the stage on a chain rope that had a retro mic attached at the bottom. I was impressed not only with his ability to sing while dangling about like Tarzan, but I was also envious of his core strength. The show did not turn into a Cirque De Soleil act (bummer) and Rutherford came down for the rest of the set, but never lost an ounce of energy. He did, however, lose his jacket soon after (insert even more squeals) and performed the rest of the show shirtless, revealing his ever so tattooed body.
The band performed quite a few songs from their new, self titled album, including “You Get Me So High”, “Void”, “Blue” and “Softcore” and crowd favorite “Scary Love”.To me, a lot of the new songs were reminiscent of the vibes and stylings of The Weeknd, where as before, if someone asked me who The NBHD reminded me of, I’d have probably thrown out a handful of indie rock bands rather than an R&B artist. As I mentioned before, they’re a hybrid of styles and if you ask me, that’s what makes them unique.
As I suspected, the crowd stayed standing for the entire show, not even giving me a chance to rest my feet on the slower tunes. (damn you, you little spring chickens) But I didn’t mind because that’s how shows are meant to be when you love a band. You don’t sit! You stand, you dance, you rock out! It was refreshing to be at a seated venue and see such liveliness. So often I go to shows where everyone stays seated and I feel like the rude one when I stand. (damn you old mo fo’s!) The crowd can make a show almost as much as the performers, and this crowd of youngsters were giving their all.
The band sounded great and Rutherford didn’t disappoint as front man. There was even a moment when I was watching the video feeds (which were filmed in black and white) when the sway of Rutherfords hips and little spins across the stage reminded me of one of my forever idols, Dave Gahan (another guy with major swagger when he performs).
The opening drum beats of their biggest hit “Sweater Weather” electrified the crowd. The audience sang along… “Cause it’s too cold, whoa.” I even saw some ushers singing and dancing along. Anticipating it as the finale, I started whoa- whoa’ing towards the exit to beat the dreadful parking lot traffic. I figured “Sweater Weather” had to be their last song or close to it. On my way out, Rutherford thanked the crowd and announced the next song as the last song of the night. “Stuck With Me”, another song from the new album was what they chose to end the night with. I could hear it clearly as I walked to my car and lucky for me, I was not stuck in any traffic.
The Neighbourhood put on a killer show and I’m happy I finally got to check them out live. I can safely say I am now a fan. I’m sure the band will now be able to sleep better knowing they won me over. You’re welcome boys!
The NBHD will be playing this weekend at Life is Beautiful this weekend in downtown Vegas.
Words and photos by Betsy Martinez