Webster Hall, New York, NY
July 10th, 2012
Concert Review: Neon Trees at Webster Hall
The sounds emanating from inside of a steamy, sold out night within the walls of Grand Ballroom at Webster Hall ranged from pounding 1980’s style synthesized beats to new wave power pop choruses so infectiously catchy, you’ll be singing them in the shower days later. Despite the music being performed on stage, the thunderous applause from a mostly youthful crowd persisted throughout the entire 75 minute set, provoked by frontman Tyler Glenn and his bandmates from Neon Trees.
Launched into prominence resulting from the massive success of their single ‘Animal’ from 2010’s “Habits” which charted as high as #13 on the Billboard Hot 100, the band was perhaps that year’s breakout artist. Fast forward two years and the band’s second album “Picture Show” (April 17th), is perhaps catapulting the band even higher as a result of their hit single ‘Everybody Talks’ having just eclipsed the one million download mark. It’s no surprise then that fans came out in droves on Tuesday night and kept energy levels elevated despite a brief building power outage that left the cold air on hiatus for much of the humid July evening.
Performing in front of a virtually nondescript black backdrop draped behind them displaying only the band’s name, the foursome emerged from relative darkness at a quarter past ten. With drummer Elaine Bradley set to give birth at any moment, the band missed nary a beat with a replacement drummer who’ll be joining Neon Trees on the road for the foreseeable future in her absence. Donning a gold sparkling jacket and leather pants, the flamboyant frontman paraded around the stage with Bowie like precision, with his bleach blonde hair seemingly an eye catching part of the show, in between lifts of his neon glowing microphone stand. Accompanying lead guitarist, Chris Allen meanwhile took a page out of the eccentric Elton John’s book- sporting a color splattered jacket, light blue glasses, and a white bowtie, to fill out the band’s unique ensemble.
But stage wardrobe aside, and it was all about showtime. And the show belonged to the enigmatic frontman Glenn, who pulverized the vocals of each song he touched- perhaps none standing out more than “Your Surrender,” which he performed alone while seated at his keyboard. Unleashing his soulful side, his high pitched voice never strained to hit a single difficult to reach note, captivating a pool of mesmerized onlookers in his audience. “Trust” was backed by a 1980’s style bassline and accordingly featured Glenn returning onstage, clad in a vintage looking leather jacket. Fast paced songs from each album paced much of the set with the crowd involved “1983” and opener “Moving in the Dark,” standing out as particular highlights.
As the set drew closer to its conclusion, Glenn mused that many in the audience didn’t “know half the songs [they were] playing tonight,” and seemed to chastise the fans drawn to the show specifically to hear the singles that put the band on the map. But as Glenn and company launched into the hauntingly likable opening hand claps from the aforementioned “Animal,” the crowd absolutely lost it- with a sea of hands clapping overhead and hordes of young fans jumping up and down, singing Glenn’s every lyric verbatim. Not surprisingly, watching the crowd react accordingly became the show’s climax. The band would return to a standing ovation, encoring with “I Am the D.J.” and the announcement that “Everybody Talks” had just reached platinum status. Seemingly everyone on hand had been waiting all night to scream “It started with a whisperrrrr” as the band looked outward at a raucous collection of Neon Trees faithful, incredulous at how far they’d come in just a few short years. And while the night may have started with a whisper, it ended in vociferous harmony of applause.
- Jane Van Arsdale