REVIEW: The Neighbourhood at Summerfest – 6/29

There’s a lot of pressure on bands to perform well on the summer festival circuit, especially newer bands that are just starting to create a national buzz around them. For The Neighbourhood, who attracted a huge crowd of fans on Sunday night, things didn’t exactly go as planned by any means. When they hit the stage at 10:00, they moved through an introduction that seemed to be fine, until frontman Jesse Rutherford addressed the crowd, saying that it was “a disaster” and that they would be ready to go again in a couple of minutes. After a brief acapella intermission, which appeared to not be part of the setlist, they moved into current hit “Sweater Weather” which seemed like a surprise audible to me. I was mostly surprised because of how soon they resorted to playing one of their hits, possibly to keep the crowd from turning on them. Needless to say, it worked, though I did see some bleachers start to empty a few songs later.

Following “Sweater Weather”, it seemed like things were going okay for The Neighbourhood, who went into a few mid album tracks from their debut album, “I Love You” as well as their previous EPs. With an album name like that, it was easy to tell where they were going to get their loudest responses, outside of their hits. Rutherford riled up the crowd with the very mention of the fact that they were in Milwaukee, and he also didn’t have to work too hard to get hands clapping and waving in the air. While some may call this pandering, and I would have to agree, it’s hard for a band that draws a mixed audience of diehards and first-timers to get everyone on the same page. The Neighbourhood did succeed in that sense.

However, there were more times of disfunction, most notably when Rutherford introduced a song that was seemingly on the setlist, and then quickly decided against it, stating that “nobody wants to hear that song”. That was sort of confusing, and seemed to hint that the pressure was getting to the band. The night continued on, in the band’s signature black and white motif, until closing out with their other recent hit, “Afraid”. Again, this didn’t go without some confusion. Though the band was clearly done, evidenced by the glowing “The End” message on the back lightboard that was malfunctioning earlier, the crowd was chanting one more song, a practice that seems to be fading away, if this year’s Summerfest is any indicator. Although they definitely had time to do so, the cheers went unfulfilled; no encore. That, however, could’ve been a host of different issues. Regardless, The Neighbourhood pleased it’s core audience, even if that included confusing or slightly disappointing a portion of the crowd in the process.

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