Crowds gathered around Land’s End stage long before Young the Giant began its set on Sunday afternoon as excited fans awaited the band’s genuine, animated performance. Young the Giant was formed in 2004 by vocalist Sameer Gadhia and guitarist Jacob Tilley. The band opened with “Amerika” off its most recent album, Home of the Strange, which catalyzed a soft energy at first, but transitioned with high enthusiasm that defined the band’s Outside Lands set. The deep bass riffs and howls of “Something to Believe In” had the audience singing and bouncing along with every line.
Gadhia jumped around the stage with a vivacious energy rivaled only by the luminous projections behind him, which mirrored the sound waves of each tune the band played. For “Apartment,” off the band’s self-titled album from 2011, teal ocean waves flowed elegantly in a triangular projection in the same beachy and geometric styles as the band’s album art — and the crowd sang along loudly enough that Gadhia’s own warm voice could barely be heard.
The crowd swayed along in reverence to match the blissful tune of “Titus Was Born” — after the emotional waves of “Apartment” or the hard-hitting instrumentals of “Something to Believe In” — only to pump their hands to the beat of “Repeat” and dance along to “Anagram.”
“We played our first show in San Francisco at the Bottom of the Hill in 2008,” Gadhia told the cheering crowd, “We were basically f–cking no one.” He then launched right into “Mind Over Matter,” with the high-pitched synth and ever-changing gradient behind him. Right on queue, the audience sang along to every nostalgic, emotionally heavy-weighted word.
As the band led into one of its biggest hits, “Cough Syrup,” several fans hoisted themselves on each others’ shoulders and raised their hands to praise the band, as colorful portraits of the musicians engulfed the screen behind them. Hands extended over the stage barriers toward Gadhia as he jumped down from the stage to reach into the crowd. When he pointed the microphone in their direction, fans sang along with magnified voices and Gadhia’s mile-long smile shined on the jumbotrons.
When Gadhia returned to the stage and grabbed his guitar for “Jungle Youth,” his bangs fell across his eyes, transforming a beaming grin into a brooding gaze. The tune revealed a more alt-rock side to Young the Giant, which typically leans toward more indie tones — and fans were hardcore headbanging nonetheless.
Despite the almost-punky air of “Jungle Youth,” Gadhia told the crowd that the band’s goal is to make authentic but peaceful music. “We are so thankful that everyone’s here and willing to be a part of something earnest, something that’s not steeped in dark irony all the time,” he said. “We can be good people sometimes — we try, but we fail a lot,” he laughed, after donning a multicolored sequin jacket and jumping into “Silvertongue.”
The band closed its set with “My Body,” another hit off its early self-titled album, which sent fans jumping and clapping along together, as Gadhia panted and thrashed about on stage. As the song slowed down a bit, fans waved their hands back and forth — some even raising lighters despite the early-afternoon fog — before dancing again through the end of the set.