By: Elaisha Green –
Jesse Rutherford didn’t seem concerned that all eyes were on him as he dominated the stage singing “Everybody’s Watching Me (Uh-oh)”, while his inked fingers dangled a peach bra. While crouching to grab reaching hands, The Neighbourhood frontman seemed at ease on display for the overflowing audience in the Sound Academy last Saturday. Formed in 2011, the California quintet drew a crowd of girls wearing nbhd beanies with tartan shirts tied around their waists and guys rocking desert boots and slicked back hair.
Earlier, Chloe Chaidez of indie California band, Kitten, performed “Like a Stranger” from their third EP of the same name. The new wave band joined The Neighbourhood for their North American tour after their run with Charlie XCX. Chaidez’s performance commanded attention from the crowd when her long locks were lit by a light show as they swept the ground and she moaned and tumbled on stage.
When the lights finally dimmed again, bassist Mikey Margott, who sported a black hood, strolled into view with guitarist Zack Abels who took his spot downstage. In a black and white raglan shirt former drummer Bryan Sammis’ replacement, Brandon Fried, sat at his kit as white lights began to flash and Jeremy Freedman picked up his guitar.
When the programmed melody for “Silver”, from their unreleased album, #00000 and #FFFFFF, hit the heavy air, fans didn’t wait for Rutherford to take the stage before they let out excited screams. Soon he grabbed the mic and didn’t let go until the first bra hit the stage. A backwards snapback covered his bi-coloured hair as he skirted across the stage dipping into the opening song’s low-tempo trip-hop beat. Their set later included “Jealou$y”, another track from their new album that contains a quiet bridge that explodes into a saxophone riff as the snare drum and bass carried the beat into the next verse.
Before they broke into “Let it Go”, the 22-year-old frontman thanked the audience in disbelief and announced that it was the band’s first headlining date in Toronto. Hands and cell phones were then raised as the crowd shouted the lyrics over Rutherford’s crooning. Melancholy tune ‘”Wires” from their EP, I’m Sorry, began after a programming hiccup, which stalled the show and left the crowd to watch Rutherford’s every move turn impatient. Just minutes before, chorus-powered “W. D. Y. W. F. M.” had ended with Freedman’s soulful guitar solo; the most attention anyone other than Rutherford received onstage. Keeping to their highly publicized black and white theme, show lights were only white against their minimalist black and white backdrop until the end of their set when they occasionally glowed orange.
Radio hit, “Sweater Weather”, thundered into the venue as fans surged forward while singing along. The hungry audience, who were eager for an encore, gave up when the house lights brightened and the coat check line began to snake into the hallway after the short 50-minute set.
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