February 12th, 2012, 11:52 am · · posted by GUEST
Young the Giant fans weren’t the only excited ones at the Wiltern on Saturday night. The O.C. band, particularly frontman Sameer Gadhia(above), was obviously thrilled to play its biggest Southern California headlining appearance to date, the first of two sold-out nights at the historic 2,300-capacity venue in Los Angeles. That enthusiasm translated into a totally mesmerizing performance.
Over the past year, the quintet has filled opening stints for Incubus and Neon Trees, appeared at KROQ’s Weenie Roast and Almost Acoustic Christmas, Lollapalooza and Sasquatch festivals and made a buzz-worthy turn on the MTV Video Music Awards telecast (which suddenly drew my attention and led to their self-titled debut earning a slot on my year-end Top 10 albums list).
Steady road work has definitely paid off: Young the Giant notched a pair of Top 5 alt-rock radio tracks and its album has moved 134,000 copies thus far (a very respectable showing for a new band), according to a Roadrunner Records spokesperson. Next month, the guys stand to do well at the annual OC Music Awards at City National Grove of Anaheim, where they are nominated in six categories, including best album (alongside Thrice and Social Distortion, among others) and best song (for current hit “Cough Syrup”).
At the Wiltern, the group’s 14-song, 75-minute set comprised most of the album and a few promising unreleased tracks. It kicked off with the jaunty “I Got,” Gadhia immersing himself in the song, shaking a tambourine as a mostly teenage/young adult crowd dutifully sang along loudly.
The stage was adorned with a dozen strategically placed light boxes that looked like fancily wrapped Christmas gifts and bright lighting. Gadhia constantly switched between standard and bullet-style microphones to enhance his wails and falsetto vocals.
“Guns Out” moved from a dreamy to moderately aggressive sound with ease. The chiming guitar buildup of “12 Fingers” came across even more dynamic in concert. Bassist Payam Doostzadeh roamed the stage quite a bit; guitarist/backing vocalist Eric Cannata even more so.
Young the Giant enhanced selected songs with string players similar to what they presented at a pair of SRO Galaxy (now Observatory) charity gigs last December. Here, that backing quartet joined for the exhilarating hit “Cough Syrup,” introduced by Gadhia with a passing reference to Whitney Houston’s death earlier in the day. The lyric “life’s too short to even care at all” suddenly became more poignant.
A cover of “Empire Ants” by Gorillaz (also done during the group’s Unplugged performance for MTV.com) was equally dramatic, thanks to the string section and an auxiliary drummer. An elegant new song, “Camera,” found Gadhia at the organ while drummer/backing vocalist Francois Comtois provided some electronic beats. A sense of mystery surrounded “St. Walker,” thanks to Jacob Tilley’s subtle slide guitar work, until Gadhia bashed away on Comtois’ cymbals.
Suddenly, a sax player ran across the stage. And that wasn’t the only odd happening: earlier a gal threw her bra onstage. The slow buildup of main-set closer “God Made Man” brought to mind Britpop act James until the band kicked into rocking overdrive, Gadhia let out some gritty wailing and everyone pogoed along.
Come encore time, the fragile, almost meditative “Islands” was intense, the finale “My Body” wildly energetic, the musicians pulling out all the stops. All told, Young the Giant proved more than ready for the big leagues. For those attending tonight’s gig: So far the group hasn’t been turning in identical sets each night. Early arrival is highly recommended.
Especially since it would enable you to see Walk the Moon, whose exuberant, harmony-rich 45-minute warm-up recalled the Killers and Friendly Fires. The Cincinnati alt-dance/rock foursome — with painted stripes on their faces — excelled on the bubbly “Tightrope” and the frantic, synth-heavy “Next in Line,” both off their new RCA Records EP Anna Sun, not to mention the giddy “I Can Lift a Car Up (All By Myself)” and a sublime cover of Fleet Foxes‘ “White Winter Hymnal.” Can’t wait to see them again.
Article by George A. Paul. Photo by Armando Brown, for the Register.
More O.C. Nightlife:
- Sinister Pointe hosts special Valentine’s dinner show
- Moonsville Collective takes over ‘Dinner with Dave’
- Video: Le Blorr at King’s Inn at Memphis Cafe
- Slideshow: ‘FIN’ debuts at Hurley’s H Space Gallery
- Orange Pop: Death By Stereo readies ‘Black Sheep’
- ‘The Aquabats! Super Show’ debuts March 3
- Slideshow: OC Music Awards showcase at the Continental Room