The Neighbourhood with Field Medic and HEALTH at Vogue Theatre, 4/10/18
At their sold-out show at the Vogue Theatre on April 10, California-based The Neighbourhood inspired hundreds of youth not to fear self-expression.
The night began with 26-year-old Kevin Patrick Sullivan strumming away at his guitar for his first time in Vancouver. His hair in a mullet, wearing a HEALTH band shirt, he expressed distaste in America’s politics, in which “I should bludgeon my neighbours if they’re different than me.” Field Medic’s lo-fi style and relatable lyrics captivated the audience. He asked for a moment of silence for his best friend, his Boombox “Boomie”, which died during his tour. The entire venue was noiseless, after which he said “Thank you very much” instigating an eruption of laughter. Although his voice seemed off-key at times, his talent was evident in “OTL,” wherein he played harmonica and guitar simultaneously and sang about looking for his true love everywhere, even near a fire hydrant while smoking a cigarette.
Field Medic’s softer, bedroom-pop was contrasted by the next act, noise rock band HEALTH. With “Victim” from Death Magic, the Los-Angeles crew shifted the ambience from tranquility to turmoil. One felt like they were experiencing repetitive seizures from John Famiglietti’s manipulation of the Zoothorn combined with BJ Miller’s insane drum skills. The bassist and drummer’s long hair drooped in front of their faces, magnifying the peculiarity of their act. Jake Duzsik’s raw, soothing voice in songs like “L.A. Looks” conflicted with the intense drum beats and screeching noises. The sporadically flashing stage lights amplified the adrenaline pump, and while some audience members complained about it being “too much,” almost every head on the floor banged along to songs like “Crusher” from Disco 3.
After the rush of epinephrine from the initial spectacle diminished, smoke permeated the stage, flooding it in pink and purple hues. A guttural bass tone gradually intensified as the five shadowy figures of Jesse Rutherford, Jeremy Freedman, Zach Abels, Mikey Margott, and Brandon Fried floated onto the stage, accompanied by frenzied screams from the primarily female audience. The 26-year-old singer yelled “Stand up!”, and bodies thrashed across the dance floor as the Neighbourhood performed “Dust” from their self titled album. The post-apocalyptic song was followed by the softer but just as unnerving “Afraid,” which describes losing one’s identity. Someone handed Jesse roses, which he then generously distributed to the audience. Eventually, his hoodie came off, exposing a tattoo-adorned body which induced shrieks from many young ladies in the venue.
Everyone sang along to “Heaven,” with its progressive riffs and eerie melody swaying the crowd. It was succeeded by the more laid-back “Warm” from #000000 & #FFFFFF, which didn’t have the same impact. As soon as the tune for “Daddy Issues” from Wiped Out emanated from the speakers, screams of excitement ensued, with everyone joining in on the lyrics: “And if you were my little girl, I’d do whatever I could do, I’d run away and hide with you, I love that you got daddy issues, and I do too.”
The male singer openly admits to not only possessing psychological issues of abandonment, but also expressing them, “Go ahead and cry little boy, you know that your daddy did too.” In a society where men are still discouraged from showing emotion, such messages normalize vulnerability. Steering the conversation away from gender is a crucial step towards promoting better mental health.
After demonstrating his high vocal range during “Stuck With Me” from the To Imagine EP, Jesse put a hat on, then immediately took it off and pointed to someone in the crowd “You called it too!” then addressing everyone else, “So did you see what the hat said?” “RIP 2 My Youth!” was the enthusiastic response. The morbid melody and drum beats resembled a funeral march augmented its commentary on police brutality and a generation robbed of its youth “When I can’t breathe, don’t call for a cop, I was naive and hopeful and lost, now I’m aware and trapped in my thoughts.”
Jesse bellowed “You guys are the shit, thanks again for having us!” The band chose to end their set with “Scary Love.” Just as mysteriously as they appeared, the band evaporated, and despite repetitive chants for one, they never returned for an encore. Nonetheless, for the witnesses, this event was their favourite dream.