By Aidan Barrow
“Hello stranger, my name is Trixie and I… I want to get to know you better,” spoke Tyler Glenn, the keyboarder and lead vocalist of Neon Trees, in a sultry yet raspy, high pitched voice.
I was afraid. Was this seriously what he sounded like?
No. Moments later he chuckled and switched over to a more masculine, mid-toned voice, describing a prostitute in a red sequined dress named Trixie, the muse of Neon Tree’s second and current album, “Picture Show”. The crowd went wild.
Neon Tree’s sophomore album is scheduled for release on April 17, four days after their performance in Savannah, the beginning of their North American tour. The audience — mostly SCAD students — were privileged with a preview performance of songs from the bands new album, including the lead single, “Everybody Talks”, along with “Animal” and other songs from their debut album, “Habits.”
The show was opened by Noah, an 18-year-old singer/songwriter from South Carolina who performed all songs acoustic and a capella with an acoustic guitar. His soulful voice entranced audience members from the lobby to their seats, lulling them quiet as they walked in to the beat of his rhythmic strum. During his hour-long performance, he covered songs by Mumford and Sons and Michael Jackson, as well as playing original songs. He closed by saying, “I am 18 and opening up for Neon Trees… This is a dream come true.”
The band consists of Tyler Glenn (lead vocals/keyboards), Chris Allen (guitars), Branden Campbell (bass), and Elaine Bradley (drums/vocals).
Lead singer Tyler Glenn was definitely the most energetic, enthusiastic, and dramatic of the quartet. During the fifth song on their set list, while decked in an emerald leopard print shirt and shiny black pants that glittered blue beneath the strobe-lit ceiling, Tyler unbuttoned his shirt, crossed his arms over his chest passionately and swayed back and forth to the tune of their love song “Mad Love.”
We also heard the voice of the female drummer Elaine for the first time during the “Mad Love” performance. Before that she aggressively banged away on her vintage drum set, decked with pink stickers reading “FAME IS DEAD.” I expected her voice to be harsh and aggressive as well. But surprisingly it was soft and fairy-like, the perfect accompaniment to Tyler’s stronger rock vocals in their lovestruck duet.
The band’s performance was fun-filled and energetic. However, Chris and Branden, on bass and guitar respectively, didn’t seem to be half as energetic or dramatic as Tyler and Elaine.
There wasn’t as much audience participation as one might’ve anticipated for a Neon Trees show. Only about a quarter of the crowd raced to the front of the room when prompted by the ushers. The majority of the rest remained either standing in front of their seats or in the side aisles leisurely grooving to the music. Virtually everyone on the balcony remained seated.
The audience was most familiar with and enthusiastic about the band’s lead single from their debut album, “Animal.” And from their new album, the lead single “Everybody Talks” seemed like the song everyone talked about.
The best performance was an acoustic rendition of a song from their debut album entitled “Your Surrender.” It was the first time that evening that Tyler was on the stage, alone, seated and still.
His body draped over the guitar while he soulfully pleaded the question to some far off figure in the audience, “how long till’ your surrender?”
This was also the first time during the band’s performance that the crowd was completely silent and still, each concert-goer was entranced and seemed as surprised at the effortless drastic shift in his vocals as I was.
The sound of their second album “Picture Show” is dramatically different than that of their debut album “Habits.” While songs from “Habits” were filled with heart-pumping, high-energy 80′s pop mixed with fun, catchy alt-rock choruses, the sound of “Picture Show,” while still highly energetic, has more of a rock n’ roll feel to it.
During an intermission, Tyler described Neon Trees as a “rock and roll band.” Therefore one can only wonder, has the sound of Neon Trees changed? Have they moved away from the sound that has made them Neon Trees? And if so, is this a good or bad thing?
The crowd seemed to be more participative in the band’s older songs so it it seemed like the change was bad. But maybe this is more because the new album hasn’t been released yet.
“I don’t think there was much of a difference,” said Sara Padden, first-year photography major. “They kept the same kind of sound that they had in the old one, [and] brought [it] back in the new one, so it felt like a mash-up between the two.”
When asked what could’ve made the concert better, she simply said, “Longer.”
You can purchase “Picture Show” on iTunes this Tuesday.Contact Aidan Barrow.