With lyrics like "I don’t like you, f*ck you anyway," "you suck anyway" and "you make me wanna die," it’s safe to say that glum rockers The Neighbourhood don’t really need any more reasons to be angsty and angry. But that’s unfortunately exactly what happened Sunday night at the U.S. Cellular Stage, where some apparent behind-the-scenes technical issues sent the California-based rockers off the stage in a huff and the excited young crowd home disappointed.
It seemed to open strong, with the guys starting off as black silhouettes out on the smoky white stage, rocking out their set opener "Female Robbery." There was a brief audio dip and the lead guitar seemed very low, but a few mix issues are to be expected on the first couple of songs; otherwise, it was a good start.
The band’s cloudy California beach brand of moody rock sounded good and visually, the stage looked cool, with the boys seemingly in black-and-white (even the screen showed the concert sans color) and aided by black-and-white film and cartoon clips.
Things, however, were apparently not all good in The Neighbourhood. After the opener, lead singer Jesse Rutherford told the crowd essentially that it sucked, that they weren’t quite ready and for the fans to "pause your turn up." It’s hard to say what exactly the problem was – Rutherford would later describe it as "computer sh*t" – but something somewhere was wrong.
At first, the band seemed to be handling the situation above and beyond pros. Rutherford chatted a bit with the crowd, eventually performing the stripped down rap of "West Coast" as some "story time" before heading into "Sweater Weather," one of the band’s big radio hits.
The technical issues may have left the mix sounding a tad on the empty side, but then again, it was very minor. Plus, a "Pulp Fiction" clip of Vincent Vega dancing playing on a loop on a side screen made everything better.
After "Sweater Weather," the technical snafus seemed to be fixed, and The Neighbourhood launched back into "Female Robbery" 15 minutes after attempt No. 1. The music perhaps sounded a bit richer and had more heft, but now Rutherford’s vocals seemed low on the mix. Ominously, the next song on the setlist? "Everybody’s Watching Me (Uh Oh)."
The band got through that slice of paranoid angst rock quite pleasingly (the group rocks much harder live than on the more mellow and moody album), as well as the next bunch of tunes, including "Let It Go," the unexpectedly sax-happy "Jealou$y" and "W.D.Y.W.F.M.?". "Jealou$y" was particularly enjoyable; musically, one of The Neighbourhood’s best attributes is the unpredictability of some of their songwriting. Having a sax blare during the chorus certainly qualifies (see also: the cut to the dreamy bridge on "Sweater Weather").
The problems began to reemerge around "Baby Came Home." The Neighbourhood seemed to be struggling to get into a flow, with significant moments of dead air. Rutherford in particular seemed frustrated.
The little audience chats from earlier in the night (including an amusing out loud thought process about why he wasn’t going to attempt a dangerous on-stage jump) disappeared, and on "A Little Death," the lead singer spent much of the song wandering around the stage, occasionally getting back to performing for the crowd.
Things seemed better on "Lurk" (originally meant to be an older selection before Rutherford nixed it seemingly on the fly), especially with assorted movie clips in the background – "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly," Disney cartoons, Veruca Salt freaking out in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" – providing an amusing diversion.
However, Rutherford still seemed upset, spending most of "Wires" and "How" meandering around the back of the stage with his back to the crowd and draping his arm disheartenedly on his mic stand multiple times. Whatever the technical problems were, they didn’t seem to be fixed, even though I doubt the crowd could even tell. Other than Rutherford’s occasionally low vocals, the setlist (while certainly not for those unwilling to briefly hang out with their glum moody emo teenager side for a bit) sounded good, and the band’s fans were happily eating it up.
Still, by the time The Neighbourhood reached its last song, the band apparently had enough. The group rocked out its other hit "Afraid," which seemed to briefly energize the guys on stage. As soon as it ended, however, Rutherford and company couldn’t seem to get off the stage fast enough. Five minutes after the lights went up and roadies started unplugging mics and wrapping cords, fans still filled about half of the bleachers, waiting around and seemingly trying to reassure themselves that no, they’re totally coming back on … right?
Nope. No encore tonight, kids; just a barely hour-long set (if you started the clock from when they rebooted the setlist and replayed "Female Robbery," the concert came in at about merely 45 minutes) where the lead singer spent a notable amount of time performing toward the wrong side of the stage. The fans came for angry, angsty rock music; they likely left feeling more than a touch of anger and angst themselves.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published Dec. 6, 2016
Author Jason Diamond went to find '80s film icon John Hughes and write his biography. He came back with his own personal memoir, "Searching for John Hughes," instead. We chatted with the author about Hughes, his beloved movies and nostalgia.
Published Nov. 30, 2016
Marcus Lemonis' recent visit to Milwaukee for "The Profit" may not have gone according to plan, but he still has his sights on the Cream City, as his Bentley's Pet Stuff chain will open six new shops in around the city this weekend.
Published Nov. 29, 2016
While scenic designer Todd Edward Ivins' knowledge of the Milwaukee Rep's "A Christmas Carol" was mostly a blank slate, he was more than aware of the daunting legacy before him when he began work helping to reimagine the holiday classic.
Published Nov. 29, 2016
For many, Election Day was a day of shellshocked hurt, disappointment and fear. But today is a new day, and it's time to go to work doing good and helping those in need. Here are just a few ways you can reach out and make a difference.
Published Nov. 28, 2016
Christmas came early for Milwaukee, as Vogue Magazine gifted the city a flattering place in its recent "5 Industrial Cities Making America's Rust Belt Shine Again" travel article. See what they had to say!
Published Nov. 27, 2016
Netflix's much-anticipated "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life" premiered this holiday weekend, and, while most of the show played like a sloppy but warmly satisfying Thanksgiving dinner, the ending left an uneasy aftertaste.
Published Nov. 22, 2016
Kenneth Lonergan's movie "Manchester By the Sea" has been a part of Oscar talk ever since January, but before it hits town, audiences can get a taste of his work with the Chamber's "Lobby Hero." We learned more about the show and why Lonergan's material works so well.
Published Nov. 22, 2016
Christmas has come early for Netflix subscribers, as the service announced its new arrivals for December - including "Captain America: Civil War," only the biggest movie of the year. And that's far from all. Here's everything coming and going next month.
Published Nov. 21, 2016
Some excitement quite literally hit Farwell Avenue early Monday afternoon, as a significant part of a building set for demolition fell onto the street.
Published Nov. 20, 2016
Despite being surrounded by the unfamiliar, I felt like I was cozily at home during my stay at The Astor Hotel - and that's a pretty impressive achievement for a hotel, especially when a guest's guts are actively staging a violent coup against him.