Young the Giant vocalist Sameer Gadhia slid into a spotlight with an acoustic guitar.
Set lights shined against the backdrop of the dark Los Angeles sky and the artificial starlight twinkled blue and white against a “Home of The Strange” backdrop. Opening chords and rain drop sound effects ushered in the sentimental intro of “Titus Was Born.” Gadhia’s grave, soulful voice soared over the crowd.
Irvine-born rock band Young the Giant performed at the Greek Theatre on Friday. Touring with opener Ra Ra Riot, Young the Giant entertained the small outdoor venue with numbers from their most recent album, “Home of the Strange,” as well as with songs from their two previous LPs, “Young the Giant” from 2010 and “Mind over Matter” from 2014.
[Throwback: Album Review: ‘Mind Over Matter’]
Ra Ra Riot began the evening with indie, synth pop vibes as vocalist Wes Miles writhed around the stage. The eccentric pairing of a vibrant ’80s synth and live violin kept the growing crowd bouncing while the band played songs like “Bouncy Castle,” “Absolutely” and musical selections from Miles’ side project band Discovery. Ra Ra Riot’s quirky sound was a refreshing mix of indie rock drive and baroque pop, complimenting Young the Giant’s similar pop rock set.
As dusk settled in around the venue, Young the Giant strolled confidently onto the stage. Flags from the “Home of the Strange” album cover rippled in the breeze on either side of the stage and the band dove into “Jungle Youth.” The bluesy guitar riff and thunderous drums proved a powerful opener with Gadhia’s sensual, smooth delivery. The momentum of “Jungle Youth” transitioned effortlessly into the night of rhythmic, energetic numbers.
Dressed in a flashy gold sequins jacket, Gadhia frequently stopped to pelvic thrust to the roaring beat of “Something to Believe In.” Gadhia’s goofy personality appealed to the audience, but he maintained a sense of sincerity with pauses to thank the crowd and his parents, his face alight with a genuine smile.
“There’s no such thing as a part-time Young the Giant fan, so we know you all have been with us from the beginning,” Gadhia said.
Young the Giant skillfully wove its three albums into one soulful journey, rising to danceable peaks with “Eros,” “Mr.-Know-It-All” and “Silvertongue,” and traversing emotional valleys with “Firelight” and “Art Exhibit.” The electrified vibes of a smooth bassline, two giddy guitars and Gadhia’s thrilling performance powered the crowd through “Silvertongue,” with guitarist Eric Cannata thrashing around the stage draped in a large red fur coat. “Firelight” floated ephemerally thanks to a beautifully somber delivery from Gadhia, whose vocal mastery and dreamy falsetto guided the band through the intimate song.
Young the Giant initially closed out the show with the funky jam “Home of the Strange.”
But the band returned even from the encore with a bang: A throbbing bassline pulsed to the hammering drums of “My Body.” Purple lights flooded the stage as Young the Giant rocked the Greek Theatre for the true finale of the evening. Gadhia jumped about the stage, his powerful voice and impressive hip-shaking inciting jumping from the crowd.
While Angelenos are familiar with the city’s lack of stars in the night sky, Young the Giant’s rocking indie vibes and soul-stirring lyrics brought truth back into the Greek Theatre’s slogan: “To play, see and be among the stars.”
Young the Giant provided indie rock hits and acoustic ballads. Though Gadhia croons “Life’s too short to even care at all,” the band’s passion for music shone through the entire night.