The Neighbourhood at White Oak Music Hall in Houston, TX

Grab a cigar, ladies and gentlemen, and get comfortable in a lounge chair whilst basking in a performance from the Neighbourhood. The five-piece rock band from Newbury Park, CA paid a visit to White Oak Music Hall in Houston, TX this winter—one of five stops on a short string of show dates traveling through Mexico and Texas.

Because of the limited number of tour dates, it was not shocking that audiences lined up at least four hours prior to show time to guarantee a favorable spot to see the Neighbourhood. The line started from the venue’s doors and snaked its way through the parking lot before wrapping back out to the sidewalk down the block. These brave souls withstood the biting cold weather, fresh from Houston’s early morning snowfall, before finally pouring into White Oak Music Hall for a highly anticipated sold-out show. The entire large downstairs stage room filled from front to back as well as in the upper-level balcony seats.

The set list comprised selections from the band’s discography, spanning from 2012’s I’m Sorry..., 2013’s I Love You. and 2014’s #000000 & #FFFFFF to the most recently released Hard EP (2017) and current single “Scary Love”—there were treats for the “Day One” fans as well as newer ones. To act as the middle ground for both sides of the fan spectrum, the Neighbourhood wisely incorporated more songs from their 2015 album, Wiped Out!, to be the most prevalent in the set. At one point in the set, the audience chanted their yearning for the song “Single” from Wiped Out! to which the band said, “Next time!”

Upon the introductory blaring sounds from the start of “Ferrari,” the Neighbourhood came in swinging, literally. After the band got situated at their respective stations, frontman Jesse Rutherford took the stage and grabbed on a chain link hanging from the ceiling to swing over the audience. The name of the game for this performance by the Neighbourhood was mysterious sensuality. Envision relaxing in a smoky lounge in a black & white film, which was adeptly enhanced by the consistent black and white stage lights show and fog machine, which also maintained the band’s overall image aesthetic.

Each instrument on the stage played together cohesively to create lounge vibes and keep Rutherford’s vocals at the forefront. Overall, Rutherford’s singing isn’t a voice that cares to show off flashy technique but rather embody a spellbinding siren quality accomplished with his natural sensuality and occasional echo vocal effects. Add him and drummer Brandon Fried removing their shirts and Rutherford randomly swinging on the chain link to get the audience fired up and shouting every lyric with the band. Even in this mellow atmosphere, the Neighbourhood managed to get audience members dancing—rather seductively—as if being controlled by their hypnotic music like a cobra to a snake charmer’s flute.

The Neighbourhood wasted no time with a long, convoluted encore calling from the audience and went straight into the close of the show with 2013 radio hit, “Sweater Weather.” This song showcased the band’s holding power, as the singing and shouting from the audience grew significantly louder accompanied by the number of phones sprouting into the air as well. Year by year, the band has accumulated more fans, continuing to steadily grow while still maintaining everyone from day one. The Neighbourhood may not be hyper-aggressive in their approach to music but they do demand attention in a more subtle manner. With their consistency of enticing image, aesthetic and sound, the band captivates new audiences and shows no signs of slowing down.

Text and photos by Siri Svay

 *Disclaimer: The words expressed in photo blog reviews do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Music Connection Magazine.