The three of us are buying Bud Light tall boys, and it starts raining.
“Figured it would rain”, Ben quips. We sack up the beer and jump on the subway. Off to Williamsburg: hipster city. We are heading to a tiny venue to see a new band play New York for only the second time. We get off the subway after Greg tells some girls that he is sorry that he shoots water out of his dolphin hole, leaving some puzzled looks on their faces. We pop our tall boys and venture out into the pouring rain. We are getting soaked and searching for Grasslands, in what seems like a wave of unending warehouses. We walk into the wrong bar, that doesn’t have a name, and have to sheepishly ask if this is where Youth Lagoon is playing. We are told they are playing next door, and snake in between the waterfall of rain and dirty concrete buildings.
Trevor Powers, aka Youth Lagoon, is standing right at the front of the club talking to an enthusiastic fan about shoelaces, or something. We grab three beers and make our way to the side of the show, where the opener is playing some type of weird, slow lo-fi goth music. The singer is sitting down on a chair playing no instrument. We are not amused.
As the opener is finishing up, two girls behind us start asking us questions about the show, and seizing the moment, Greg starts chatting them up. He doesn’t know too much about the band, but I throw in enough random tid bits to keep them interested. When they are engaged, I give Ben the trade off on my spot and head to the bar for more beer. In the line, I look back and see the conversation has stopped, and I shake my head.
“Boyfriends showed up”, Greg informed. With some protest from Ben, we head into the crowd just behind the front row as Youth Lagoon sets up. I get anxious that I didn’t buy enough beer for the set, but my friends convince me we don’t need it. They take a good twenty minutes to set up, which is a ridiculously long time for two guys with a guitar and a couple of keyboards, especially if their debut album just came out that week. We wait patiently, and Trevor eventually starts playing the opening keys of “Posters”. For how long he has been doing live shows, he sounds great. His voice is just as strong is it is on the record, but with more emotion. As a lone synth key plays out, the guitarist looks with excitement and explodes as the drum machine kicks in, and everyone in the whole goddamn place starts bobbing their heads.
Each song keeps going in this direction, which is a strange flaw that I didn’t make while listening to the album, but is very evident live. Each song starts with a keyboard/piano melody, Trevor sings to it by his lonesome, the drum machine and guitar kicks in and he rocks out. It wasn’t a deal breaker by any means, but it was a bit too easy to distinguish The sound in the venue was oddly quiet, and any type of talking could be heard over the music during a lot of the softer moments. This tended to kill the mood in the openings of a lot of Youth Lagoon’s songs, but it’s hard for people at a concert to not discuss what they are seeing. This isn’t the cinema, and was evident when Greg told some girl in front of us to go fuck herself when she shooshed him during an opening of one of the songs.
Thankfully, no fisticuffs were had and the band began its final (and my favorite) song in their catalogue, July. As it came to its climax, the band exploded with an energy that I wish was present in the majority of the night. It was a satisfying ending to a better than average debut live show, and a good way for an exciting new band to prove they have arrived.
Ben turned to me as he threw on his jacket saying he was happy that he hadn’t listened to them before the show, because he was impressed and came out a fan. I flipped my hoodie over my head and the three of us wandered back into the streets, hoping to find a bar close by to get out of the rain.
(Year of Hibernation is available now from Fat Possum Records)