The air began to grow hazy shortly after opening act Ra Ra Riot left the stage. The silence was quickly replaced by the murmur of the crowd, waiting for their headliner — Young the Giant. On Sept. 13, the band was on their second show of a three night residency with the 9:30 Club in Washington, and tweets from the band’s official account hinted at a play-through of their entire “Home of the Strange” album. A setlist from the night before showed they had not done it yet, and many fans on Twitter were requesting that they do it tonight.
As the band took to the stage, the murmur turned into screams. The bell melody of “Amerika” laid the foundation for singer Sameer Gadhia to introduce his voice to the crowd. When Gadhia asks, “Are you paying attention?” the ambiance of the room swelled and the rest of the band joined in the performance.
The largest take away from the performance is how good Gadhia and crew are at developing this ambiance that lasts throughout the night. Bright glassy lights mixed with the haze and built the atmosphere that surrounded the band. They played in front of a mountainous backdrop with a series of flags hanging on the side. Sweeping synths provided a base layer within the soundscape to match the air of the room, and long-tailed guitars plucked their way through, adding energy and motion to the tracks. Slower songs were accompanied by a dazzling light show of stars, which glowed through the backdrop.
Following “Amerika,” the rumors on Twitter proved to be true, as the band played through the 40-minute “Home of the Strange” front to back. This turned into the first live performance of “Repeat,” which elicited a new burst of energy from the crowd, now into the second half of the album.
When the final and title track of the album came to an end, the band thanked the crowd and left. People around me were concerned that the band was ending the show without playing any of the hits that made Young The Giant, like “My Body” or “Cough Syrup.” However, the night was young, and their fears unfounded.
Retaking the stage, the band heard the demands of the crowd: Cheers of “One more song,” and “Encore.” The band responded with five powerful energetic hits back-to-back in what Gadhia called an “extended encore.” Two songs from their sophomore album, “Mind Over Matter,” and three songs from their 2011 debut self-titled album, including “My Body” and “Cough Syrup.”