Since the rise of streaming music, listeners have been able to expand their knowledge, taste, and consumption of music. Because of this, many bands that may have been lost to history if it weren’t for their dedicated fans would’ve been just another one-hit wonder at best.
Or you find yourself wondering about one of those bands that had a few good songs back in the ’70s but when you went back to listen to those songs, you discover they had five or even ten good songs and even a few great ones.
Bands like that often fall under the Yacht Rock Renaissance or ‘80 New Wave scene. An era of music that was so dense it took decades later to appreciate their work.
In the early 2010’s there was again this collection of bands that had a certain Pop-rock sound that were in flux. I call them the “the” bands. Cage The Elephant, Walk the Moon, and Foster The People to name a few.
I don’t know, something about “the” really sat well with band names in 2009 and 2010. But as any scene goes some bands fizzled out and some rose to the top. Others like Young The Giant, had early success and continued to release high quality records as they go on. I truly believe we’ll look back in a critical sense at this era of music and hold Irvine, California’s Young The Giant in the highest regard out of this class of bands.
Tuesday evening Young The Giant along with 2010’s German indie stars Milky Chance graced the stage at The Andrew J. Brady Music Center. Milky Chance, is a band that I hadn’t thought about in some time and wondered how they would present in a live setting.
The German Duo consisting of singer and lead guitarist Clemens Rehbein and percussionist Phillip Dausch came out guns-a-blazin, running through hits like “Flash Junked Mind,” and “Stolen Dance.” The most surprising aspect of their performance was that they were nothing like you’d expect from their studio work. They were a full four piece rock act, with the energy ready to fill arenas. Their blending of German-house music, heavy rock, pop, and the complexity of indie instrumental made for a truly unique experience.
The stage setting for Young The Giant was clearly influenced by lead singer Sameer Gadhia’s Indian background and heritage. With floral designs and colors throughout, the setting gave a feeling of an Indian wedding or celebration.
In 2010, the band would release their selftitled debut and featured a slew of singles, that would go on to be hits and used in commercials throughout. I became a huge fan in 2010 when I first got a hold of this record as it had the elements of rock greats with a new and truly American take on their sound.
Gadhia as a singer, I regard as one of the best vocalist of the last 15 years. His range and grandiose as a front man harken to the days of when a front man would command the stage. With Bono’s grandeur and aspirations to sing to the gods, Freddy Mercury’s swagger, and the emotion and melodrama of Morrissey, Gadhia is like watching a bengal tiger. A majestic and ferocious animal that is endangered of becoming extinct.
Few frontmen, choose this route anymore, and even fewer can pull it off. Gadhia, has the looks, confidence, and chops to stand out from his peers as a full fledged rock band frontman.
So as he took the stage with the rest of the band, a video began to play. This video would be a series of videos played throughout the night. “Act I: Origins,” was the first of three videos released by the band as they revved up to release their fifth studio album American Bollywood. This format of a show I found so refreshing. Instead of speaking to the crowd, the show played more like a full film production or show. Hardly ever speaking to the crowd, the band allowed for their music and short films to tell a story.
Their first two songs would be singles off the new record, “American Bollywood,” and “Wake Up.” Two beautiful tunes that show the band and Gadhia writing toward what they know, their heritage and the identity of this band in their current form.
They would then kick into the rockin’ “Something to Believe in,” where Gadhia truly began to show off his singing chops as well as his ability to command a stage.
Playing an early classic and fan favorite, “Cough Syrup,” was the next tune. One of the original singles that would launch this band into the top of the iTune’s charts and land them on main stages throughout the world.
My personal favorite tune came when the band broke into, “I Got,” a lovely tune that goes back their early surf rock guitar sounds, with the beautiful lyrics and singing of Gadhia, it has elements of the Beach Boys and the Talking Head’s “The Big Country.”
I will say, being a fan of a band who is at this interesting stage of their career as they try and stave off the inevitable legacy act gig, you want to see their new music but enjoy so much of their early work that you could really stretch the show out for another hour. However, this also is such a testament to the bands songwriting ability that, they are able to pick and choose what they want to play at this point in their career.
There were even songs I forgot they had that I truly enjoyed. “Heat of the Summer,” is clearly their attempt at making a summer pop hit and whether it was successful or not, is too hard to tell in the age of streaming. However, it’s undeniable fun and catchy.
The main set would end with “Mind Over Matter,” off their second studio album of the same name. The bands attempt at competing with the U2’s, Pearl Jam’s, and other anthemic rock bands of the past. And although I think, the band has the catalog and the singer to be of that ilk, I just think they suffer from the case of born in the wrong generation. If this band had come around in the 80’s or 90’s they be one of the biggest touring acts in the world.
No song exemplifies this better than the song that started it all, “My Body,” a boisterous and unrelenting hit. From beer commercials to top alternate stations still playing it, something about this songs seems like a lost beauty that we as a society will come back to appreciate more critically as a touchstone for a great band lost in the mix of a bunch of bands trying to reach indie-pop success.
As the show came to an end, I was left wanting more. So much of their catalog was untouched and that’s whats great about bands 15 years into their career. They are creatively still challenging themselves and yet could simply rest on their laurels and play the hits. Now, I can’t miss them each time they come to town as I hope to see more.
If you missed the show this time, you shouldn’t miss it next time, as there are few bands who still do what they do without making it cheezy or seemingly running through the motions.
Young The Giant is on their North American tour throughout the summer and you can listen to American Bollywood, wherever you stream music.