Music review: Neon Trees at the 9:30 Club

Neon Trees, courtesy of the artists.
Neon Trees, courtesy of the artists.

WASHINGTON, September 18, 2014 − During Neon Trees’ recent appearance at DC’s 9:30 Club, it was unclear exactly how many people in the audience had ever been in a music video before. And it’s not certain that even these individuals were quite prepared for the fact they were to be employed as props for live footage being filmed for Neon Trees’ new single, “Text Me In the Morning.”

Nevertheless, the very possibility resulted in a crowd that seemed super-charged throughout the entire night. People who aren’t generally used to being on TV under any circumstance tend to get excited at the mere chance that they might show up in a commercial or a video. Better yet, the thought of appearing in the video of a wildly fun pop band might is an excuse that’s more than good enough to generate enthusiasm.

Not that this four performer unit from Provo, Utah really needed the help in getting the audience jacked up for their show. They’re quite capable of doing that all on their own. But having an additional gimmick for the show certainly didn’t hurt especially when it’s the neon plastic sunglasses the band decided to hand out for all their fans to wear at the show.

The glasses were intended as a special added visual attraction for the music video. But it also created a certain synergy with the band, organically connecting the audience to them for the entire show. After all, Neon Trees is a bright and shiny band. So, having the crowd reflect the image they have crafted for themselves is pretty high on their agenda.

So much about Neon Trees about inclusion or finding common ground to create a larger community, whether that’s within the context of their music or their outside lives as well. So it’s important to create that kind of unity among their fans in the process.

This seems like an obvious thing that all bands attempt to do to a certain extent. After all, the point of playing music on stage is to get as many people to like what you’re performing as much as possible. A band doesn’t really work out if no one’s listening to it.

Still, some bands are a little more discreet about achieving this goal – or even outright apathetic to the entire goal as well as to their fan base. But that isn’t the trademark of Neon Trees, where generally everything is out in the open, up close and personal.

Neon Trees has always been an overtly poppy band and not a particularly subtle one. The flash and style of this band, both in its look and in its sound, hits the audience over the head like a hammer.

Nothing is concealed in a Neon Trees performance, since they make a conscious effort to make sure everything they’re doing rises to the surface. This doesn’t imply they’re shallow. In fact it’s probably just the opposite. It’s simply a band that’s out in the open about what they are and what they believe.

Ultimately, this makes the audience more alert than usual when attending one of their live shows. Their fans are simply waiting to explode the way someone might expect fans of a relatively over the top pop band to do.

There was no need for much introspection during the Neon Trees’ set at the 9:30 Club. At no point did it make sense for anyone listening to them to stop and consider subtle nuances of the band. All that would do in the end would be to slow the audience down, keeping them from moving, dancing, and generally being caught up in the moment. But anyone who considers taking away from the moment is entirely missing the point of Neon Trees.

Without the audience’s crazy and unrestrained reaction, there wouldn’t be much of a point to the Neon Trees’ sound or their set. This is a band that’s having as much fun on the stage as possible, and it’s meaningless unless they can take everyone along with them.

The music of Neon Trees is a complex mechanism meant to get everyone reacting to what they’re performing and feeling exactly the same thing. By the end of the night here or anywhere, the audience blends into one unidentifiable swirl with Neon Trees as the gravitational center pulling them all together.

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