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 Oct. 21, 2014
In early 2012, music fans found themselves entranced by two hypnotically romantic pop songs cryptically released onto YouTube. The songs were gorgeous, a dreamy high voice with just a touch of smokiness crooning intimate lyrics over seductively simple electronic arrangements. Everyone just wanted to know who was responsible. It was an impressive little indie music mystery ... especially since it was essentially an accident.
Published Oct. 20, 2014
In 2012, comedian Tig Notaro went through a series of intense, significant personal crises that would be overwhelming in a four-year stretch, much less in merely four months. In a matter of a few months, Notaro faced a break-up, a sudden death in the family and two potentially fatal ailments. And in the middle of all of that, she had a stand-up gig at Largo in Los Angeles. The rest, as the cliché says, is history.
Published Oct. 16, 2014
A little over a decade ago, Milwaukee musician and Testa Rosa lead vocalist Betty Blexrud-Strigens got a chance to see the legendary Patti Smith in Madison. Even though the show came quite some time after Smith's punk glory years, Blexrud-Strigens still remembers the rock legend providing a charge. Now, it's up to Blexrud-Strigens and a roster of Milwaukee artists and musicians to bring that essence back to the stage with "Smith Uncovered."
Published Oct. 15, 2014
After three years, The Rural Alberta Advantage is taking a new album on the road, including a return stop at Turner Hall Ballroom on Wednesday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. Before then, however, OnMilwaukee.com chatted with the band's drummer Paul Banwatt about the process behind "Mended with Gold," looking back at the band's past and spending some time in a creepy Canadian cabin. And, of course, hockey.
Published Oct. 14, 2014
Judged as awards bait, "Kill the Messenger" won't likely snag the golden glory it's looking for. Once you remove the arbitrary frame of awards season, "Kill the Messenger" is a solid, satisfyingly unpredictable and well performed journalism drama that - following the lead of "Shattered Glass" and, of course, "All the President's Men" - often plays like a tense thriller.
Published Oct. 13, 2014
At the end of the month, the Milwaukee Public Museum will celebrate the fall - as well as its current "Alien Worlds and Androids" exhibit - with a Sci-Fi Film Fest. Every Thursday and Saturday (save for Thanksgiving) from Oct. 23 through Nov. 29, the museum will screen a sci-fi flick in the Dome Theater.
Published Oct. 12, 2014
How does one stretch a barely 30-page short story of accumulated gripes and grumbles into a feature length film? In the case of "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day," the answer is simple: poorly. By the time its 82-minute running time comes to a grateful close - and all of the cliché, contrived and crude chaos with it - Alexander's bad day has morphed into the audience's bad day.
Published Oct. 10, 2014
Few bands have come out of the gates as strongly as Milwaukee's own Field Report. So it's safe to say the bar was set high for Field Report's eventual sophomore attempt, one nicely cleared by "Marigolden," released Tuesday, Oct. 7.
Published Oct. 7, 2014
Just when it seemed like the 2014 Milwaukee Film Festival was just beginning. As it turns out, 14 days goes extremely fast, as the sixth annual cinema extravaganza comes to a close Thursday night. But let's not quite start throwing dirt on the festival's casket quite yet. There still are three days of movies, filled with plenty of great options to offer. Here are some of the best of the rest of the 2014 Milwaukee Film Festival.
Published Oct. 6, 2014
If the opening moment of "Wetlands" desperately pleads against its existence, the ensuing 109 minutes of youthfully exuberant gross-out comedy - currently showing at the Milwaukee Film Festival with a final showing Monday night at the Times Cinema at 10 p.m. - couldn't be a more enthusiastic endorsement for it.