The Neighbourhood Sells Out Show at The Observatory


NOVEMEBR 1 – “I’m going to be brutally honest… This is one of my favorite shows,” frontman Jesse Rutherford told the sold out crowd at The Observatory in Santa Ana, Ca. From the reaction to Jesse’s bouncing steps onto the stage for the first song “Let it Go,” it was immediately apparent- nobody was going to stay still or quiet for the next hour and a half.

The Neighbourhood, made of up Jesse, guitarists Jeremy Freedman and Zach Abels, Mikey Margott on bass, and drummer Bryan Sammis, formed in late 2011 and released their debut album in April of this year. The album, “I Love You,” reached number 39 on the US Billboard charts. Their single, “Sweater Weather” has taken over radio (in CA, turn on KROQ at any given time and you’ll likely hear the song) and reached number one on the US Alternative chart.

Although the band is relatively young (the oldest is 22 and the youngest 19), they command the stage like pros who have been working for years and years. While the entire band entertained the audience, Jesse’s energy translated on a whole different level, dominating attention. From start to finish, he jumped around the stage, only pausing between songs to talk to the audience, which he does with great ease. He acknowledged when “gifts” were thrown onto the stage from the adoring female fans in the front row and remarked that the crowd had literally made his socks fall off after only the first song.

The audience consisted of mostly teenage girls in the front, to a more mixed gender, of-age crowd towards the back. And while yes, the girls against the barricade probably love that all the members are attractive and drool over Jesse’s tattoos, the attention didn’t seem to be focused on those things. Instead of screaming “I Love Yous” and “Marry Mes,” the fans were determined to become backup vocalists as they sang along to every word and every song, including their melody of Destiny Child’s “Say My Name” and Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River.”

The emphasis on the music is no coincidence. The band began with a brilliant master plan to control their image in a way that would allow focus on their music. Nobody knew what the members in The Neighbourhood even looked like until months after their first songs were released. The band now relies on only black and white imagery, which is evident in their music videos, their black and white outfits on stage, and even in the simple (and beautiful) light display on stage.

While their image is pretty black and white (pun intended), describing the band’s genre is a bit more complicated. Sometimes labeled as alternative indie, hip pop, pop, dark pop, The Neighborhood has a wide variety of influences which have shaped their sound. Before The Neighborhood, Jesse was rapping and making hip hop music. The blend of hip hop, pop, and alternative music has created what many have called dark or moody pop. Regardless of the genre you want to categorize the band into, one thing is fairly obvious: the words are written to create another layer of rhythm onto the song. The repetition in many of the songs, like “WDYWFM?” and “Wires,” truly brings out the hip hop background, but is especially evident in “West Coast.” The three songs were played together in the middle of the set, creating a groove amongst the crowd.

The difference between this band of five guys and other bands of five guys around the same age is remarkable. They put the kind of thought behind their craft not typical at such a young age. While some critics have panned The Neighborhood for the simplicity of their angst-y lyrics, you still probably wouldn’t realize that some of the guys in the band are still teenagers. In comparison to bands their same age, they have created a sound that can uniquely be called theirs. Towards the end of the set, the band played “How,” which questioned, “How could you question God’s existence when you question God himself? Why would you ask for God’s assistance if you wouldn’t take the help?” Yes, these words could be attributed to just teenage angst, but as a 22 year old, I know many people who can relate, and at the end of the day, being relatable to its audience is one thing a band needs to be successful.

The band finished their set with their less angst-y single, “Sweater Weather” followed by their latest “Afraid.” The band and audience danced and sang until the very last note was played, which followed a loud and long session of screaming and clapping.

Check out the full set list as well as photographs from the show, below.

Set list:
1. Let it Go
2. Everybody’s Watching Me (Uh Oh)

3. Female Robbery
4. Flawless
5. Alleyways
6. West Coast
7. Wires
9. Say My Name/Cry Me a River
10. A Little Death
11. How
12. Sweater Weather
13. Afraid

Photography by Rosemary Vega

1 Comment

  1. Ross CMR

    November 21, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    With performances like this its no wonder they’re selling out every show

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>