Young the Giant seem to represent the best of the all-too pervasive “indie rock” branding. For a band playing within a genre that in recent years has been taken over by overtly corporate efforts at making a quick buck, YTG has managed to continue producing quality music without damaging their bona fide-indie status. Since their debut five years ago, they have quickly become quintessential on all alt rock playlists. Their rise to fame and wide appeal has been facilitated by MTV appearances, constant radio plays, and a sound that amazingly still doesn’t feel too cliché.
The now well-established Irvine, California troupe brought their talents to the Fox Theater Oakland this weekend as they head off on a nationwide tour for their newest album Home of the Strange (2016). And for those expecting a typical showing from, to be frank, a mostly typical rock band, I think many left the concert surprised. Regardless of how you might feel about their music, you had to give Young the Giant a huge A+ for effort in Oakland on Saturday. The performance was stimulating, engaging, and simply exciting.
Lead singer Sameer Gadhia donned a red jumpsuit (in an homage to his Stanford days?) as he appeared in front of a Fox Theater packed with fans of all ages. In addition to Gadhia’s slightly gaudy yet appropriate dancing outfit, the stage was adorned with an unusual amount of décor resembling their most recent album’s artwork: lighting the group from behind was a literal mountain that contained within it a sky of twinkling stars. Flags were placed along the sides of the stage that flanked YTG as if heralding the arrival of royalty.
With this set-up, it was only appropriate that the crowd of supplicants treat the nobles as such. I don’t think there was a single word that Gadhia sang alone that evening; even when tracks from their most recent record (released just two months ago) such as “Silvertongue” or “Home of the Strange” were played, the crowd was there for every syllable. And it wasn’t just the singing; a relentless desire to bounce, head bob, and wave hands infiltrated the crowd from the first song and didn’t cease until after the second encore. The peak for this already incredible crowd occurred during a softer moment with “Parachute,” when a few lighter-wielding souls led Gadhia to call on all to raise a light in the air. Soon, the Fox was alit in a stunning display of butane-fueled flame and smartphone-powered LED.
The show caught me off guard in the best possible way. The combination of a truly invested crowd and a YTG that looks as fresh as they were in 2011 made for an especially enchanting performance. This show signified that they’re not slowing down; with a third album out and a tour in progress, this still relatively new band is living fast. But no one who was in the Fox Saturday night thinks they’re going to die young.
Article by Jacob Elsanadi, Photos by Sofia Duarte.