The Neighbourhood mix gloom and glee at Stage AE

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There was something hypnotic about The Neighbourhood’s performance Friday night.

In black skinny jeans and a bowler hat, vocalist Jesse Rutherford spun across the stage, luring the audience in with soft, meandering melodies, then pumping his arms each time a lively chorus swelled.

Known for its hit “Sweater Weather,” the California band put on a show that juxtaposed light and dark in both lyrics and performance, with energetic beats that surged and dipped.

Bleached spotlights pulsed in the background as three screens displayed scraps of black and white film. Sometimes this was nothing more than the granular static of a broken TV screen, at others the footage bordered on zany: jiving skeletons, a body falling through clouds, Snow White accepting the poison apple.

An undercurrent of youthful anxiety flowed through many of The Neighbourhood’s songs: “When I wake up/I’m afraid/Somebody else might take my place,” Mr. Rutherford sang in “Afraid.” In “How,” the band asked, “How could you tell me that I'm great/When they chew me up, spit me out, [expletive] on me?”

The show was dark and slightly absurd, combining gloom and glee like film noir.

These are familiar tropes for the indie rock group — its music video for “Female Robbery” opens with a woman speaking in French about her utter despair while the accompanying English subtitles read “I have never felt so happy.”

For most of the concert, audience participation was relegated to swaying and mellow arm waving. But by the last song of the night, the crowd was more than ready to chime in. As the Mr. Rutherford sang, “You make me wanna scream at the top of my lungs/It hurts but I won’t fight you,” fans followed with the unprintable reply, shrieks reverberating throughout Stage AE.


Stephanie McFeeters: smcfeeters@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2533. On Twitter: @mcfeeters. First Published July 12, 2014 12:00 AM

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