The Neighbourhood Prove They Have No Limits
It was three years ago when I first heard of The Neighbourhood – this was round about when they released their chart topping hit ‘Sweater Weather’ and uploaded a sulky, black and white music video to match. The wind in their hair, tattoos up to their necks, shades on and looking generally cool as f**k in the Californian sun. This was the first and last I saw of The Neighbourhood.
Fast forward to 2016 and it’s a lively Monday night at Camden’s Roundhouse - maybe the liveliest a crowd of Londoners could ever possibly be on a Monday. Frontman Jesse Rutherford struts on the stage, suited ‘n’ booted in a white, Elvis Presley-style jumpsuit – minus the red stripes and jewels. Interesting outfit choice, especially compared to his leathered-up appearance I was expecting.
Soon, the outfit becomes part of the unique presence that The Neighbourhood so boldly display. The Wiped Out! 2016 tour is packed with new stuff, old stuff, poppy stuff and rocky stuff. ‘Cry Baby’, ‘Little Girl’ and ‘R.I.P 2 My Youth’ creates the biggest stir amongst the crowd: songs that all belong to their newest album. I wish I had listened to Wiped Out! sooner – it’s an absolute masterpiece.
It’s Jesse’s voice that got me within seconds. It’s a continuous juxtaposition: silky smooth yet rough and frayed at the edges, it’s sexy and deep but so high you could mistake it for a female vocalist. His voice possesses this rare ability to transform and covert as freely as water can flow from one shaped container to the other.
But this is no one-man show - let’s talk about the band. The drummer is the star player here and fills the room with the weird (but brilliant) hip-hop versus rock sound which the band are so good at. Then we have the guitarists: four guitars are a hell of a lot of bass and it creates this incredibly dense, powerful sound which quite literally makes your seat vibrate.
Sometimes you get those bands who want to tell their life story in between every other song. And sometimes, this is fine – you get to know the person behind the song as much as the song itself. It’s also sometimes good when a band says little to nothing and, instead, let the songs speak for themselves. But it’s quite a feat when this is enough – props to The Neighbourhood.
For a band that is rarely played on the radio, The Neighbourhood have one of the most devoted fans I’ve seen. From the front to the back, the crowd often have a rippling effect – that is, the excitement of the first couple of rows of people gradually ripples out outwards with an increasingly dulled effect. Not with The Neighbourhood. Fans on the very outskirt of the further corner, those standing on the highest level of the balcony, even those sitting, had this incredible energy, bouncing like atoms colliding into each other.
It’s nice finding out who a band are when you don’t know them well – it’s even nicer when you’re surprised. With his shimmying across the stage in a fusion of MJ moonwalking and some 70s groove hip shaking, his vocal ‘quirks’ and the hugeness of the sound coming from all six members, this was a band I had misjudged.
I was expecting the usual indie-rock band persona, the effortless hair flips and the ‘cool’ but slight movements across the stage. But this is a band with no limits, this is a band who are completely in their own league and, most importantly, this is a band with no limits.