Santa Barbara Becomes Home of the Strange: Young the Giant Concert Review

All photos by Heather Zalabak

Young the Giant, a dazzling, alternative 5 piece based out of Irvine, California have been making waves since 2011. Ever since their breakout single “Cough Syrup” they have been blowing fans’ minds with their interesting and original sound.

Now, Young the Giant are back with the recent release of their third album “Home of the Strange” focusing on their immigrant roots and political influences. The band is now out and about on their second tour of the album, and truly innovating the art of a live show.

Their show at the Santa Barbara Bowl, California was an incredible sight to see. With them came indie rock band Joywave, known particularly for their songs “Somebody New”, “Tongues”, and their collaboration with Big Data on “Dangerous". Joywave captivated the crowd with their infectious music, getting everyone up on their feet, singing along, and cheering as the sun began to set on the coast. The crowd cheered throughout the whole set, referred to as “The Joywave 30” by the band. They were especially interesting and engaging, playing both their classics and new music off their sophomore album Content.

Up next were additional Socal locals Cold War Kids, who have been particularly taking the radio by storm. The Long Beach natives were an exhilarating crowd favorite. People all over were dancing and singing along to popular songs including “First”, “Love is Mystical”, and “Hang Me Up to Dry". Another musical surprise for the audience was a moving rock cover of Rihanna’s “Love On the Brain” with attendees swaying from left to right across the pit. Cold War Kids’ frontman Nathan Willett even included a personal connection he has to the Santa Barbara Bowl. Around a decade ago, he admitted, Willett snuck in at the top of the hill to sneak a peek at Radiohead’s performance. It was exciting to see him go from sneaking into the venue to performing at it. After their set, the wait for Young the Giant was finally over.

The lights abruptly dipped to black as a compilation of America themed songs began to play, including iconic anthems “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus and “American Idiot” by Green Day. Fans chanted along to the compilation, anxiously awaiting their favorite band. The lights began to flicker as dark silhouettes took their places. As a sun began to rise on the lighting back drop, frontman Sameer Gadhia took his place center stage, signaling the beginning bells to the band’s serene single, “Amerika”. The crowd sang in unison as Gadhia belted the beginning lyrics, “And so I've arrived / With gold in my eyes.” His powerful words, “Are you paying attention?” triggered the stage to illuminate in shades of orange and red, as guitar strums rang through the whole amphitheater. And just like that, the audience was welcomed into the world of Home of the Strange.

The band followed up with the loud ballad “Something to Believe In” creating an incredible force of energy in their stage presence. Afterwards, they took the show back to the beginning with their mellow tune “I Got” off their debut album. For the majority of the show they dedicated their time to Home of the Strange, including the simplistic yet beautiful songs “Repeat”, “Titus Was Born”, “Nothing's Over” and “Mr. Know-It-All".

A new addition to the tour was a live rendition of their infamous In the Open sessions, where they play acoustic versions of their songs in unfamiliar environments. Their live acoustic performances of “Strings” and “Firelight” left the audience in utter amazement. Their elegance and talent was nearly overwhelming, but in a very astonishing way.

The quintet closed out the show with a four song encore featuring the melodic “Art Exhibit”, “Jungle Youth” and “Silvertongue” To close the show, they attributed their debut album one last time with the smash hit “My Body”.

Young the Giant is a band that leaves you wanting more. With an incredible stage presence, a brilliant light show, and undeniably breathtaking music, they are putting on one of the best tours this fall.