By Nicole Rosenthal, Contributing Writer
There aren’t many artists that are as unapologetically themselves as Neon Trees. For nearly a decade, the rock outfit has released vibrant, quirky new wave-inspired tracks that undoubtedly leave audiences dancing in their seats. Cultivating catchy alternative tunes, sensational dance moves and flashy instruments–matched with equally flashy outfits, Neon Trees has become a household name in the pop-rock world.
The four-piece began making headlines in 2008 while on tour with The Killers, gaining considerable attention from frontman Tyler Glenn’s showstopping energy and the group’s overall lively dynamics. However, the Utah-based band still has yet to announce a full tour. They haven’t released a full-length album in a number of years, despite the fact that their 2010 smash hit “Animal” is most likely still stuck in your head. Nevertheless, Neon Trees were met with a sold-out headlining show on Tuesday night at the Bowery Ballroom with nearly 600 audience members eagerly awaiting what Glenn would later call the band’s “last show in New York for a long time”.
For a number of artists, fans may complain that their live performances are subpar–if lucky, average–compared to their studio albums. Yet, for a band as performance-heavy as Neon Trees, their live shows almost exceed any work done in the studio. Added dynamics and vocal harmonies complete their lavishly buoyant sound. As the venue erupted into cheers and whistles as openers Repeat Repeat bowed offstage, the four-piece kickstarted the set into “Sins of My Youth,” an honest and confessional alternative jam that would leave Brandon Flowers proud.
The night continued with a string of other highlights from their debut album Habits, including the heavy bass-driven “Girls and Boys in School” along with the classic singles “Your Surrender” and “Animal,” both of which the audience joined Glenn in vocalizing.
The set list was chronologically organized, diving subsequently into tracks from their 2012 follow-up Picture Show, which featured a larger emphasis on synths and danceable beats. Glenn pirouetted, tiptoed and backbended his way to the tune of “Moving in the Dark,” only to sit on the edge of the stage and serenade lucky audience members as he held their hands affectionately. A beautifully stripped-down rendition of “Mad Love” was then performed by both Glenn and drummer Elaine Bradley, intricately weaving melodies together into a perfect harmony.
The third and final act of the show highlighted the hits of Neon Trees’ latest album, 2014’s Pop Psychology.
“I wrote this song a couple of years ago, just before I came out as a gay man. It was a time in my life felt like I was living in another world,” confessed Glenn as he sat down on the edge of the stage once more, humbly addressing the crowd.
As he gave a brief dialogue about the state of the country and the necessity of equality, the band started up with the upbeat “Living in Another World” followed by “First Things First” and “Sleeping With a Friend”, the latter of which was met with Glenn diving into the crowd a-la trust fall.
The New York crowd was bid a final goodbye–for the foreseeable future–with the band’s 2012 radio hit “Everybody Talks,” which the audience sang in unison almost entirely without the help of the frontman. With that, the entire band mouthed thank-yous to the years of service their fans have brought them as each member bowed out. The electricity at a Neon Trees show is almost indescribable, and the community between fans and the pop-rock outfit is undoubtedly strong. For now, one can only hope that Neon Trees return to New York sooner rather than later.