There hasn’t been much animation at Amoeba during the summer, in-store performances got very rare but they were back on track on Thursday afternoon, with Young the Giant playing a special acoustic set to celebrate the release of their new album ‘Home of the Strange’. As usual, Amoeba was selling the album a day in advance of its official release (August 12th) and once again, I was surprised by the very large crowd that had gathered in front of the store, hours before the performance. I saw Young the Giant for the first time at the Troubadour in 2010, and obviously they have built a much larger following since, which will surely grow even bigger with this third EP, as they already have a show scheduled at The Greek Theater with Ra Ra Riot, on October 21st.
As it is often the case for in-store gigs, the band only played 6 songs, so I always think that kids lining up in the street hours in advance are very dedicated and patient for such short performances, but it also shows a lot of love for the band. I arrived an hour before the performance, and people who had bought the album had priority inside the store, which is totally fair, but I almost didn’t get in! I was closer to the stage for Radiohead, and this is probably a sign, a very good sign for Young the Giant.
They played three songs of their upcoming ‘ Home Of The Strange’, ‘Amerika’, a direct nod to Kafka’s famous novel and to immigration, a soulful, spirit-full tune, freely floating in the air, the delicate ‘Art Exhibit’, which sounded like a heartbreaking Beatles-que song, showcasing Gadhia’s beautiful and breezy croon. They also played ‘Something To Believe In’, which has a more modern, almost unapologetic and dance-y sound on the record, but which sounded a bit different played acoustically, as they started it with a cappella voices, deep harmonies and clapping, while Sameer Gadhia’s soulful vocals went into more powerful octaves when he took the lead. The most distinctive feature of their sound may well be the voice of their singer, a strong instrument, both forceful and vulnerable, brightening all their tunes with the same pure conviction. This man can certainly sing and each of his effortlessly howls won him loud cheering from the audience!
Of course, they managed to insert a few crowd pleasers in this short set, like the very catchy ‘Cough Syrup’, and played acoustically, their music was showing its more thoughtful side, with collected voices and delightful guitar chords, while on a song, you could even hear some serene eastern music inspirations, a bit as Paul Simon does it on ‘That’s Where I belong’. Talking about belonging, this is the theme of the new album, whose title is taken from the play ‘Home of the Brave’, and which tackles with the point of view of immigrants in the new world, the current American broken dream, as all the members of Young the Giant all are first-generation Americans or immigrants themselves. When they wrote the album, they had no idea this would become the center of this electoral campaign, and it’s going be an interesting experience to tour with such an album in the middle of this disastrous political storm.
Young the Giant’ acoustic set at Amoeba was of course quieter than their usual exuberant dance party you can witness at their shows, but it was really nice music, almost escaping the usual rock standards. It was a series of delicate and catchy melodies and dreamy to ethereal instrumentation, subtlety played behind Gadhia’s powerhouse which always stayed at the top, as if he was trying to find hope love and acceptance in Amerika.
Something To Believe In
Mind Over Matter
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