California-based rock band The Neighbourhood, a.ka. NBHD, is still a fairly new band. It was only last summer that its addictive tribute to West Coast temperatures and teenage love, “Sweater Weather” hit No. 1 on Billboard’s alternative chart. Last Monday, the group hit another milestone—playing its biggest sold out U.S. show as a headlining act at the Aragon .
But if lead singer Jesse Rutherford hadn’t announced the accomplishment during the show, it’s possible no one would have known the difference—the packed, screaming crowd at the venue that night gave the impression that the band has been selling out shows regularly for years.
A few songs in, though, it became clear that the audience wasn’t just screaming for the music.The band played a mixture of old and new music from its 2013 release, I Love You.
But the opening and closing chords of each song never got as much applause as Rutherford got when he spoke to the audience or pulled up his shirt to expose some of his stomach.
Dressed in skinny jeans and a long white shirt that looked more like a nightshirt than a tee, the screams and fervor he elicited from the girls in the audience while he grooved and swayed his hips to the beat seemed a lot more like the noises you’d expect from a One Direction concert.
Rutherford’s easy relationship with the crowd and his microphone made him the center of attention the entire show. As he jumped around, danced to the music, and provided banter between songs, it was easy for his bandmates, who were wearing all black and rarely moved from their designated spots on stage, to fade into the background. And as consistent as the setlist was—from the catchy singalong, “Everybody’s Watching Me (Uh Oh)” to the aforementioned No. 1 single that was the obvious audience favorite of the night, and the closer, the band’s current single “Afraid”—the overall effect fell flat, even in such a big, crowded venue.
As charismatic as Rutherford is, and as memorable as some of the band’s hooks are, it sometimes felt difficult to tell if the audience was engaging with Rutherford’s obvious babe status or the music itself.
With so little engagement from the rest of the band, the show sometimes felt like watching Rutherford sing along to his own songs on karaoke night, leaving one to wonder if the band might have an easier time taking advantage of a smaller venue. Still, since this was its largest show to date, it’s possible that the band just hasn’t had enough experience engaging such a large crowd and just needs a little more practice.