The Neighbourhood Hypnotizes Richmond With Heightened Emotions Review + Photos: The Neighbourhood @ The National 6/19/18
RICHMOND, VA- Alternative rock band The Neighbourhood, formed in 2011 by Jesse Rutherford (singer), Jeremy Freedman (guitar), Zach Ables (guitar), Mikey Margott (bass), and Brandon Freed (drums), quickly grew from their Newbury Park, CA origins to international success. From the beginning, they have followed a black and white theme which is clearly seen in their artwork, Instagram feed and even in interviews. They elected to follow through with this to have the focus on the music rather than themselves which turned into an all-encompassing aesthetic. After releasing their EP I’m Sorry… in 2012, their single “Sweater Weather,” went to be a double-platinum hit single and was a worldwide sensation throughout 2013. Their debut full length album, I Love You, was released in in 2013, which was then followed by a hip-hop flavored mixtape called #000000 & #FFFFF in 2014. The rock-tinged sophomore album, Wiped Out!, followed in 2015, and added hints of R&B to the band’s signature sound. Now they are touring for their recently released self-titled album, The Neighbourhood, which was released earlier this year.
On the third stop of the tour, a sea of fans, dressed mostly in black and white, waited for hours on end outside The National in Richmond, VA. Despite a grey sky and subsequent downpour, the audience’s fervor remained strong for a night they would not forget.
Field Medic opened the show. Solely led by Kevin Patrick, dressed in overalls and a wide-brimmed hat, the band’s lo-fi folk sound filled the venue and opened the show with style. Next up was HEALTH, who took the show’s feel in an entirely new direction; their harder, rock-focused sound brought an atmosphere of grunge and energy to a crowd already seething with anticipation.
With the openers finished, the crowd waited. Finally, minutes after 9:00, the lights dimmed. The crowd cheered with delight. One by one, the members of The Neighbourhood casually strolled to their respective spots on stage. Like their fans, the band is also dressed in black and white. The crowd’s screams grew louder, reaching a deafening roar as Jesse Rutherford took the stage. He grabbed the microphone, bellowing “Shirts off for the boys! Shirts off for the boys!” while gesturing to his own shirtless body as the opening chords of “Dust” filled the room.
From the opening line, the crowd sang with him, lending the room a sense of almost spiritual unity. Rutherford knew what he was doing, and he confidently stoked the crowd’s fervor, striking poses and strutting across the stage as he sang. In between dance moves, he found time to interact with the crowd by reaching out to touch the stretched-out hands; a moment of sincerity amidst the crowd of screaming concert-goers. Rutherford wavered from the raw, emotional lyrics and sipped from a cup of beer as he paused to address the crowd about an unusual topic: honey butter. The crowd scratched their heads in slight confusion. Rutherford continued “… great, great two words together. Honey butter.” His bandmates began their next song, “Daddy Issues,” and Rutherford smirked. “Speaking of honey butter,” he murmured, while the crowed laughed. He basked in the laughter for a moment before bellowing “Take… you… like… a… drug.”
The band’s ominous, atmospheric sound filled the room, nearly suffocating the crowd with tracks like “Wires” and “Warm”. Energetic, vaguely hypnotic songs like “Prey” and “Scary Love” broke up the tension, and the crowd’s excitement for “Sweater Weather”, “R.I.P. 2 My Youth” and “Afraid” was matched by the intense, heavily saturated lights darting across the stage and throughout the room.
The band’s mix of mellow vocalizations and ambient, hypnotic instrumentation drove the heightened emotions flooding the venue, rewarding the fans who’d waited through the summer heat and endured a sudden downpour. The room was full of music and screams, but also life; everyone was there to celebrate The Neighbourhood, but also to enjoy music together. The band’s music provided an escape, a journey to another time, another place. The crowd laughed, clapped, sang, and screamed together. When a band can cultivate community like that, it’s no wonder the show was sold out.