Young the Giant lit up Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theater on Thursday night. The southern Californian band made everyone dance, scream, and shout as they played hit after hit.
They took the stage as an audio clip played songs whose lyrics referenced the United States, songs such as Don McLean’s “American Pie,” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA. That could only mean that they would start off their set with their song, “Amerika” off of their new album Home of the Strange, an album that explores themes of immigration and experiences shared by first generation Americans.
They continued their set with, “Something to Believe In,” “I Got,” and “Anagram.” Before playing “Cough Syrup,” the hit that turned them from a band playing smaller venues like Soma here in San Diego to large amphitheaters, lead singer Sameer Gadhia said, “This song is for you people that have been with us from the beginning.” Gadhia ran into the crowd during the middle of the song to greet and sing along with fans.
Gadhia commands the stage as someone who knows he is adored by all of his fans. The fans yell, “Oh my God, oh my God” as he dances across the stage with swiveling hips, swinging arms, and snarling lips. These guys know how to put on a good show.
The loveliest part of their set came when the band gathered in the middle of the stage to play the delicate “Art Exhibit,” followed by the sweet and simple “Firelight.” Gadhia requested audience participation before playing “Firelight” by saying, “For this next song we would like it if you could help us out. It’s about the presence of things in our life. When I point at you if you could put a light up, a cell phone or lighter.” The fans were very happy to oblige.
Supporting act, Cold War Kids, bringing their own unique brand of soulful rock energy, thrilled the crowd. This is the kind of band that is so great live that they leave you with a new appreciation for their craft.
Much like Young the Giant discusses issues that are prominent in the current political and social climate of the country, Cold War Kids also tackle these issues in a very upfront and unapologetic way. Before Mexican Dogs, lead singer Nathan Willet explained, “We wrote this song a few years ago when we took a trip to Mexico. We are so lucky here, to have people coming and going. I have more respect for those people who live there and work here. I say, ‘Fuck that wall. Talk, talk, talk, baby. That wall is not going to happen.’ We celebrate all of our brothers and sisters who have that distance in their lives.” The crowd, clearly in line with this statement, cheered loudly. Other set highlights were the band’s cover of Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain,” “Miracle Mile,” and “Hang Me Up To Dry,” and the gorgeous “Cameras Always On.”
Review and Photos by: Sylvia Borgo