Despite the saccharine sweet indie pop songs The Neighbourhood produces, the SoCal-based five-piece does not do things the conventional way – at least not live. First and foremost, the band believes in the sanctity of art and music, and for this requests black and white photography and videography (hence the lack of color in the photo above). The band made it easy for photographers to shoot in this style last night at The Fonda, with each member appropriately dressed in, well, black and white.
Secondly, unlike most popular groups these days, the quintet shot its wad early, beginning its set with the insanely large single “Sweater Weather.” (If you haven't heard this song you either don't own a radio or don't listen to indie music.) To those of you who are regular concert goers, you know this is unheard of. I was halfway expecting attendees to leave before the curtain dropped – since they had already gotten what they came for – but these fans were hardcore and not only stayed until the end, but sang along to every word. And then there was the encore. Oh wait, no there wasn't. They didn't play one.
If these factors weren't peculiar enough, singer Jesse Rutherford's vibe and appearance added to the unconventional feel of the night. Tattooed from what I'm guessing is head to toe (I could obviously only see what he showed off, but he had tattoos running down his neck and both arms), he resembled the bad boy in a boy band. Without the hindrance of an instrument to slow him down, the crooner carried his cordless microphone around the stage as he sang to his sea of fans, shuffling his feet in a suave manner as he grooved to the melodies he and his bandmates were creating.
They played songs off their debut full-length, I Love You., which dropped in late April via Columbia Records, during their hour-long set, and both in between and during each song Rutherford made sure to include the audience. He thanked everyone whole-heartedly for coming out and asked how many people came to their show last year (there weren't that many from the sounds of the cheers). He urged his fans to clap along, and they obliged without hesitation.
Halfway through the set, the band treated The Fonda to its rendition of Destiny Child's “Say My Name,” and added a snippet of Justin Timberlake's “Cry My A River,” as the musicians flawlessly transitioned to the bridge. Rutherford split the crowd in two halves and asked one side to sing, “Say my name,” and the other to sing, “Cry me a river,” when instructed. He was successful, and with the help of the audience created a beautiful medley with the two songs.
Though their summer consists mostly of festivals and playing in support of Imagine Dragons, The Neighbourhood proved last night that they are not just a one-hit wonder, but they're a real contender in the world of mainstream indie pop.
Critical Bias: Despite his boy band demeanor, Jesse Rutherford is a great performer and knows how to rile up a crowd.
The Crowd: A sea of braces and acne-pocked faces.
Overheard in the Crowd: Many a shrill scream. Apparently Jesse Rutherford is a heartthrob.
Random Notebook Dump: The Neighbourhood has known Big Black Delta for years and asked them to open, but the people who got there early enough to see BBD seemed perplexed, and not in a good way. They're brilliant, you guys!