2020 has been a year of a lot of things, most bad, but some good. It’s forced invention on everybody, with musicians in particular finding new ways of doing things. It’s gone from the early days of performing in front of your computer on Instagram to full-fledged special online concerts. Young the Giant celebrated the tenth anniversary of their self-titled breakthrough debut by playing the album in full for the first time ever, at the very place they recorded it, Sunset Sound Studios, on Saturday, November 21st.
The event opened with a short montage of footage from the early days, retelling what it was like back then when they took a year off from college to make a record that they thought would be it. But producer Joe Chiccarelli (White Stripes, The Shins, My Morning Jacket) got them to Sunset Sound and the rest was history, vaunting them up to the big-time quick-time (it was noted that the bands they knew & loved had taken a lot longer to get where they got with Young the Giant). So, they never returned to college like they had thought that they would, playing big stages, and have released three more full-lengths (2014’s Mind over Matter – QRO review – 2016’s Home of the Strange – QRO review – and 2018’s Mirror Master – QRO review).
For the livestream, the band was inside Sunset Sound, with a hazy lighting which did leave something to be desired on your computer screen, but so many great camera angles that fans debated whether this was really live. There was a great full-screen with chat option, and it was heartwarming to read the wowed fan reactions in real-time [note: your correspondent couldn’t login via Facebook, but that was probably on him]. Indeed, seemingly on their own, a number of fans created a group Zoom amongst themselves so they could see each other dancing from around the world [note: your correspondent is far too jaded and self-conscious for that, and no one needs to see him dance]. It’s old hat to say that the internet has driven us further apart, but this was a true online community (when showing the ten-year-old footage and remarking on how different things were back then, one cited example was, “MySpace was a thing…”).
While obviously hit singles “My Body”, “Cough Syrup” and “Apartment” have been live staples since those early days, some of the Young songs rarely ever make the set list. Playing the album in track list order let those first-half singles do their thing [note: your correspondent wasn’t singing along, air-guitaring, and air-drumming to “Cough Syrup”, you were], this really gave other, lesser-known and lesser-played pieces to shine. The fans on the chat were particularly psyched for the penultimate “Islands”, and went wild when it was played.
After the set ended with Giant closer “Guns Out”, singer Sameer Gadhia sat down for a solo acoustic performance of pre-Giant piece “Take Me Home”. From the band’s earlier incarnation as The Jakes, it and other bonus tracks are included on the Young the Giant tenth anniversary remastered digital release and limited-edition double vinyl.
In yet another weird 2020 weekend, where Americans are wondering if they should risk their lives for turkey, and everyone else is wondering when our orange highness will acknowledge reality, it was great to be Young again.