By Meghan DeMouth, Daily Free Press Staff Writer
Too polished to be indie rock and not quite streamlined to be pop, Young the Giant combines grandiose song arcs and laid-back melodies to create a light sound reminiscent of road trips in old cars and sun-drenched days at the beach.
Although the band has not produced truly groundbreaking work yet, their most recent performance in Boston proved that they could bring fullness to their music that their eponymous first album does not quite come to terms with.
In the middle of a jam-packed tour, Young the Giant played to a sold-out House of Blues on March 8, illustrating just how popular the band has become since playing at the Paradise Rock Club in 2010, just weeks before they released their album that October.
Now, less than a year and a half later, the band displayed their confidence and skill to a crowd comprised mostly of college-aged students and twenty-somethings (with a good amount of middle-aged adults peppered in) who could weave in and out of singing along with many of the band’s most popular songs. Less surprising than the crowd’s wide age range (the band members themselves are all 23 years old or younger) was its intense enthusiasm for the band’s infectious, beach-y sound.
The band started the set with its sinuous and graceful “I Got,” and continued by playing about two thirds of the songs on their album, imbuing them with a degree of depth that their recordings sometimes fall short of. Guitar players Jacob Tilley and Eric Cannata seemed almost contemplative, their solos and riffs more lingering and meaningful than their playing on the album, their guitars distorted to give such songs as “St. Walker,” “Strings” and “God Made Man” a more other-worldly, almost underwater, feeling.
And then, of course, there’s lead singer Sameer Gadhia. His voice, soulful and spot-on, drove the band’s performance. While the rest of the band remained relatively still, he bounded back and forth across the stage, rocking out on his tambourine and characteristically alternating between using a voice-distorting microphone and a standard one. He infused the show with most of its energy, catalyzing the audience into good-natured frenzies, most notably while playing the band’s most well received song, “My Body.” The band saved the song for last, and the elated crowd responded to the song’s bouncing beat and to Gadhia’s seductive vocals by dancing more exuberantly than they had all night.
Between the more familiar songs, the band also played a carefree cover of R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix)” that went over extremely well with the happily nostalgic audience, and several recently-written songs that they promised would appear on their next album. Most notable was “Camera,” which, though brooding and decidedly more intimate than the music from Young the Giant, featured a chorus that used the band’s characteristic mix of simultaneously detailed and vague lyrics: “On holiday, with a broken camera, and all I say is, I couldn’t be happier… I’m free.”
If the song was any indication of what will come, Young the Giant’s next album may have more personality and maybe a bit less polish- a tone-shift that their indie-loving fans would undoubtedly embrace.