At approximately 9 P.M. on August 6th, 2014 Youngblood Hawke took to the stage at Brighton Music Hall in Allston, Massachusetts — just outside of Boston — and made musical history. OK, so maybe they didn’t make musical history, but there is a whole lot of musical history wrapped up in the band’s bright and sunshiny pop rock sound. There’s something distinctly ’80’s about their massive anthems — the ghost of Tears For Fears lives on in their collective soul — while they clearly owe a debt to other contemporary bands like Empire of the Sun, The Naked and Famous and The Killers. Still, there’s something wholly fresh about their sound; they might not be re-inventing the wheel but they’re spinning it awfully fast and pounding on it even faster. There’s also an urgency to their sound and, matched with their enthusiasm, it leaves one feeling like this has never been done before.
The band opened with “Rootless,” starting off with an expanded intro that found not one or two but three of the six members of the Los Angeles-based band drumming along fiercely. While every single song on their 2013 debut is insanely catchy, “Rootless” opens the album for a reason: it’s a magnificent gem that sparkles and shines in a big way, dazzling anyone who gets near it. And the band’s live performance of the song was arguably even better than the album version, especially during those intense and propulsive parts with the three — Sam, Alice and Nik — drumming along as though their lives depended on it. But then that’s how they performed their entire 14 song set, as though they’d perish if they didn’t give the show their all, like this was their last chance to prove themselves. As if their record label had spies in the audience monitoring their performance. Meanwhile, the audience bounced up and down and sang — no, screamed — along as though it was the last show they’d ever get to experience. It’s very rare that you see a band touring behind a debut album and see 80+% of the audience singing along like this, knowing all the words to every song.
Although many of them had guys with them, the audience was predominately made up of females, most of which appeared to be in their early twenties and they were certainly dancing the night away; it was as though they’d never been to a concert before, as if they’d snuck out of their parents’ houses in order to be there. And the guys danced, too. During the first couple of songs, not so much, but by the time the band delivered their turbo-charged earworm “Hold On,” the guys had ceased to be reserved and let themselves go. It was clear that some of them were coaxed into doing so by their female companions, but just as many simply surrendered to the moment, lowering their inhibitions, because the band was so amazing, giving off euphoria-inducing happy vibes.
As the band continued through infectious cuts like “Live And Die,” “Danny Boy” and their hot new 2014 single “Pressure,” there was genuine magic in the air, partially because the music was so special, and so beautifully performed, but also because you felt like you were watching magicians as half of its members frequently changed instruments. (First, the rabbit in the hat trick, then the doves in the jacket trick, then the never ending handkerchief in the pocket trick.) And they played them all as masterfully as David Copperfield makes elephants disappear. Nothing about the show was an illusion though. Youngblood Hawke are the real deal. If you’re looking for the perfect summertime show, look no further.