With lyrics like "I donâ€™t like you, f*ck you anyway," "you suck anyway" and "you make me wanna die," itâ€™s safe to say that glum rockers The Neighbourhood donâ€™t really need any more reasons to be angsty and angry. But thatâ€™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 bandâ€™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 werenâ€™t quite ready and for the fans to "pause your turn up." Itâ€™s hard to say what exactly the problem was â€“ Rutherford would later describe it as "computer sh*t" â€“ 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 bandâ€™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 Rutherfordâ€™s vocals seemed low on the mix. Ominously, the next song on the setlist? "Everybodyâ€™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 Neighbourhoodâ€™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 wasnâ€™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 â€“ "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly," Disney cartoons, Veruca Salt freaking out in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" â€“ 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 didnâ€™t seem to be fixed, even though I doubt the crowd could even tell. Other than Rutherfordâ€™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 bandâ€™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 couldnâ€™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, theyâ€™re totally coming back on â€¦ 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.Â
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 April 27, 2016
The Milwaukee Film Festival may still be months away, but that doesn't mean awesome things aren't happening at Milwaukee Film. Take, for instance, yesterday, when news broke that the organization was chosen to receive a $10,000 grant from AMPAS.
Published April 25, 2016
We're still all broken up about the sudden, shocking death of Prince. Thankfully, several Milwaukee venues are offering opportunities to continue the Prince mourning process this week and pay tribute to his artistic genius in both music and movies.
Published April 24, 2016
Mere hours after the news broke about Prince's shocking, sudden death, I chatted with Frightened Rabbit drummer Grant Hutchison about our favorite Prince memories and music moments, as well as the making of the Scottish indie rock band's new album.
Published April 22, 2016
The weather is getting nicer. Baseball has begun. Yep, summer is here, and you know what that means: Time to head indoors to a dark theater to watch movies! Here's what to expect from this year's summer slate.
Published April 21, 2016
David Bowie. Merle Haggard. George Martin. Phife. Glenn Frey - 2016 has been exceptionally cruel and brutal in taking away some of our most universally beloved musicians and cultural icons. This morning, it unfortunately added to its list: Prince.
Published April 20, 2016
Gary Tanin has a special friendship with David Bowie's longtime producer Tony Visconti, one started on a CompuServe chat room back in 1993. Two decades later, their friendship has endured - and led to Tanin producing the debut record for singer-songwriter Jack Spann.
Published April 19, 2016
It's coming up on almost a year since WTMJ-TV anchor Mike Jacobs retired, and a replacement has still yet to be named. There are Internet rumors and rumblings, however, that the spot may soon be officially filled - and by a familiar face. And now we know.
Published April 19, 2016
The St. Louis Cardinals are the worst. Thankfully, the merry pranksters of sports journalism at Deadspin agree and, thus far, have decided to dedicate a post about every single Cardinal loss this season. Schadenfreude away, rest of the MLB!
Published April 18, 2016
Jim Gaffigan is no stranger to Milwaukee, and based on a video posted to the comic's Instagram earlier today, it would seem that Milwaukee love has rubbed off a bit on his daughter.
Published April 18, 2016
Mondays are the worst, so here's a photo of Aaron Rodgers and Chris Pratt hanging out and grilling steaks and just being the coolest fishing buddies in the entire world to make everything seem a little bit better.