February 6, 2014

The first time I heard the Young the Giant song “Cough Syrup” was in the midst of the worst cough of my life.  Ten minute coughing attacks, a sore throat, and no voice.  Every night I drowned my pain in a specialized cocktail of cough drops, cough syrup, and the Yogi tea I still swear by.  Needless to say, the catchy tune and killer vocals immediately caught my attention.  From that moment on, I’ve felt a very personal connection to Young the Giant.

Fast forward a few years. It’s a beautifully misty night in the East Bay.  It seems as if the drought is finally coming to an end.  The sense of excitement that hangs in the air after the first rain that makes everything glisten is present the night of  February 6th as Young the Giant begins their act just before 10 p.m. Thursday night at the Fox Theater in Oakland.

In a flash of blue and purple light, the band takes the stage, starting slowly as lead vocalist Sameer Gadhia sings acoustically into a double microphone. The songs from the new album Mind Over Matter resonate with fans, despite the fact that it was released less than a month before the show.  Cheers grow in a rise and fall pattern, much like the setlist itself.  Following a bell curve style, the band gradually builds up momentum, hitting a high midway through the show.  

The band begins to power through one hit after another towards the end of the set.  It was so powerful, so fast-paced, that the audience seemed unsure if an encore would follow such an intense run.  Gadhia and his bandmates were lost in another flash of blinding light, so bright that even their silhouettes were hard to make out. The five of them let go of their instruments and left the stage as the lights faded and a striking darkness set in.

The encore began in parallel to the opening. In a haze of purple light, Gadhia took the stage alone and began to sing.  Yet what differentiated the encore from the previous performance was the sheer amount of energy and joy that was palpable between the crowd and the band.  It’s a rare moment at a concert when the entire crowd comes together in a swaying, jumping, dancing mass, singing together and holding out for one last moment of bliss during the final song "My Body."  When it happens though, it’s a beautiful thing.

“We enjoyed so much with you,” said Gadhia before walking triumphantly offstage right, his final words of the evening hanging in the air.

Photos by Sam Engel and Rachel Feder / Senior Staff