You may know Neon Trees best for its 2012 hit “Everybody Talks,” but the band definitely hasn’t disappeared — since then, it has released Pop Psychology in 2014 and a single in 2017, and it has landed a spot on the 2019 BottleRock lineup. And on May 23, the Utah rock band brought its spunk and sound to San Francisco’s August Hall.
The first song of the night, “Lessons in Love (All Day, All Night),” introduced just what the band is all about: serving attitude, punchy vocals and platform creeper shoes.
Lead singer Tyler Glenn sent high kicks toward the audience with rock frontman energy during “Love and Affection.” Although the band isn’t from the Bay Area, Glenn expressed his love for the city, saying, “This is like homecoming and shit.”
The San Francisco “club show,” as the band called it, featured a hit-filled lineup of everyone’s favorite barbecue songs from the early 2010s. The band performed one of its newer songs, “Feel Good” from 2017. While that may have been a while ago, the song brought forth all the drama this band is known for.
“Moving in the Dark” was a sight of theatricality and pizazz, often sending Glenn to the tips of his toes as he used every inch of the stage to perform. This song came off of the band’s 2012 album Picture Show, one of the most recent full-length releases from the fiery group.
Neon Trees isn’t just a rock band, however. From pop to jazz, the group’s genre-bending sound transcends labels. For the performance of “In the Next Room,” the band opted for a jazzy intro that was peppered throughout the song. The crowd was up and dancing for the whole tune, especially after the buildup burst into a spurt of energy.
Glenn may be the frontman, but he didn’t take the mic for the whole show. During “Mad Love,” Glenn and drummer Elaine Bradley shared a sweet duet for the audience. Bradley is most definitely one of the most impressive features of the band; she sings beautifully while maintaining all the spunk of her drumming.
The band hasn’t released new music in almost two years, but its fans have definitely not settled down since. “It really makes me feel good to see familiar faces come out for us,” Glenn said, choking back tears.
“There were so many times that I didn’t think we were going to do it anymore,” Glenn proclaimed after thanking the crowd for its continuous support, “and that’s the real shit.”
Glenn said he understands when people feel the need to escape for a while, but ultimately showed that there’s value in holding on and keeping hope. “Music has never let me down,” he said, “so it is an absolute miracle that what I get to do is write songs and perform them with my friends.”
In celebration of this unity, the band performed a cover of The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me.” The vocals were solid throughout the whole song, with Bradley’s drumming carrying the intensity of the beat.
Of course, it would not be a complete night without the high-energy performances of “Everybody Talks” and “Animal.” And while these songs brought the crowd together like no other, it was the love of the music that really stole the show this night.
Long after the band left the stage, the crowd chanted “One more song!” until the venue turned all the lights back on and the house music signaled the true end of the show. Neon Trees may have stepped to the sidelines for a few years, but fans can only hope for a revival after this performance.