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Young the Giant and Sure Sure concert review

, and | Monday, February 25, 2019

Joseph Han | The Observer

Friday, indie-rock bands Sure Sure and Young the Giant played at Stepan Center for the Student Union Board’s spring concert. Our Scene writers offer their impressions of some of the concert’s best moments.

Sameer Gadhia

By Ryan Israel, Scene Writer

Sure Sure put on a fitting opening performance, and there’s no arguing that — but something was missing. Among the four laid-back, Mac DeMarco-esque indie rockers, there was no standout performer, no charismatic frontman to attract and maintain the attention of the audience. After Sure Sure finished their set, the crowd was restless and ready for some action. When Young the Giant took the stage, however, it was immediately clear that frontman Sameer Gadhia was going to be the lightning strike needed to energize the night.

Gadhia commanded the stage, acting as the band’s focal point and performing with captivating bravado and swagger. He handled the ebbs and flows of a setlist comprised of slow burners and upbeat jams with a veteran’s skill. Gadhia kept the restless audience engaged between songs as well; during one short break he thanked everyone for showing up and pointed out how ridiculously far the stage was from the audience. None of this is to discount the other members of Young the Giant, who had their time to shine on solos throughout the night. But honestly, Gadhia stole the Stepan Center stage.

“Call Me Back” and “Cough Syrup”

By Dessi Gomez, Scene Writer

When the opening notes of “Cough Syrup” rang out from the stage, I was immediately transported back to my younger days when the song was a hit on the radio. Though “Cough Syrup” tackles the band’s desperation at points in their career, I also feel like it can be interpreted as advice to not worry about all of the little things — that life will go on despite the ups and downs. Young the Giant played this crowd-pleaser right in the middle of their set — bringing up the energy level and reasserting their powerful presence. Though the song may seem childish and silly to them now, I think it still applies to the college crowd that flocked to Stepan Center to see them.

Young the Giant did a great job of alternating between their slower ballads and their faster more high-energy songs. I especially appreciated their performance of “Call Me Back” shortly after “Cough Syrup.” There seemed to be a trend towards nostalgic songs with this dynamic duo put close together on the setlist. Pulsating pink lights flickered on and off with the song’s steady bass beat. Though this song is soft by nature, Gadhia still infused his vocals with just the right ounce of power that filled the song with emotional longing and reminiscence. The pain and sorrow of a lost love was perfectly pronounced throughout their performance of “Call Me Back.”

Young the Giant played to their audience

By Nia Sylva, Scene Writer

When attending a concert played by an unfamiliar artist, most people adopt a rather familiar set of skills. There is the frantic pre-concert “research,” which consists of playing through a band’s most popular songs approximately four hours in advance (in the hope of learning at least a few of the words to a few of the choruses). There is the repetition of the phrase “Oh, this one sounds familiar” with every opening chord (even if said chord does not sound remotely familiar). And there is the reserved head bob of pretend recognition. Not unexpectedly, Young the Giant’s Friday show ran amuck with self-confessed “fake fans” — people who knew “Cough Syrup” and “My Body,” but that’s about it. A lesser band might have struggled to hold the attention of its audience under such conditions. Not that I would blame them — it’s hard to play a show for people who don’t know your songs.

But Young the Giant both knew its audience and surpassed expectations. The band spread its greatest hits fairly evenly throughout the setlist, saving “My Body” for last (a smart move, considering I know of several audience members who were planning to leave as soon as that song had been played). Gadhia’s stage presence and the band’s overall sound quality made even the unfamiliar songs enjoyable and the multi-colored flashing lights added a visual element to the performance that greatly enhanced the overall experience and somewhat managed to beautify the interior of the Stepan Center. Using the skills at their disposal, Young the Giant managed to create memorable moments —notably the chorus of “Cough Syrup,” accompanied by dancing green rays of light and the euphoric sing-shouting of people who might have known the song from “Glee” — that will last, even if those same people won’t be able to tell you the name of the band three months from now.

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