Youth Lagoon @ Bowery Ballroom

When: March 6th, 2013

Youth Lagoon is Trevor Powers, a 23 year old kid from Boise, Idaho.  I discovered him on Vimeo when I saw his video for "Montana".  It's a beautifully done video for a strong song.  The track builds slowly, reaching a heavy climax similar to something from Arcade Fire.  It shows Trevor to be a mature songwriter and patient songsmith. Check out the video below:

I listened to "The Year of Hibernation", his debut album, in the days leading up to the show.  Trevor lives in Boise, Idaho and has dealt with serious anxiety for years.  Both those things have clearly influenced his sound.  Most of the songs deal with regret, loneliness, and social isolation.  His songs make you feel like he's singing his diary and his voice often sounds like a timid boy singing falsetto.  I prepared myself for a subdued and slightly awkward crowd. 

Youth Lagoon's set was both impressive and disappointing.  The music sounded great.  He and his band were locked in.  I read that they rehearsed for the tour in a big Boise warehouse for months.  It paid off.  They filled the place with mesmerizing walls of sound that rolled in and out like the tide.  Soft melodic moments grew to huge swells that shook the walls.  Big moments returned to whispers.  It made for a fun ride.  The problem I had with the show was Trevor's voice.  It just seemed too thin in a live setting.  He hit the notes, but they were no match for the music, especially once the songs kicked in.  Maybe it was the soundboard dude.  Maybe it is what it is.  Whatever the cause, the inequity dropped the performance from a possible great show to just a good show.  I'll be seeing Youth Lagoon again when they open for The National.  My ears hope for a more fulfilling experience.

Something I have to address was the crowd in attendance.  I was shocked out how many pretty boy, model looking dudes were in the house.  It was really odd.  Trevor looked like a hippie friend of Napoleon Dynamite, decked out in a psychedelic silk robe, black frame glasses, and a nerd fro.  Meanwhile, most of the audience looked like they walked out of the pages of an American Eagle catalog.  It was like the school nerd playing for a packed house of prom kings and baseball players.  Weird.