slice of life

Young the Giant totally killed it when they played in Syracuse Monday night

Young the Giant frontman Sameer Gadhia pushed the boundaries of his stage all night. Every now and then he would reach out and have a fan or two grab his hand. His vicious stare often locked eyes with crowd members who knew his lyrics just as well as he did. But not until the last song did Gadhia’s interaction with the audience reach a level Young the Giant superfans Kelly Sisson and Matt Siau could have only dreamed of.

During the 18th Young the Giant number, Gadhia offered his microphone to Sisson, Siau and the surrounding individuals. They belted the chorus to “My Body,” the song that brought a passion into the crowd it hadn’t seen yet all night. It’s a tune that even casual YTG fans probably know well — and for good reason. It’s a jam and a half.

“My Body” was a wild ending to a pretty lit night at the F Shed at The Market as the five-piece California rock group brought its Home of the Strange tour to Syracuse. The two bands combined for a night that central New York alt-rock fans don’t get to see as often as those living in bigger markets do.

To have an act like Young the Giant book an upstate date on its tour was a real treat. Siau recalled the exact moment he found out the show had been announced — he was in class and could hardly contain his excitement.

The performance lived up to its hype for Sisson, a sophomore at Binghamton University, who had already caught a show at Radio City Music Hall in New York City earlier in the tour. Clearly, once wasn’t enough.

“I could write a book about how much I love them,” she said.

Sisson and Siau, both freshmen at Onondaga Community College, weren’t alone in their fandom — but they were at least some of the most intense. They got in line to enter the venue around 4:45 p.m. even though doors didn’t open until 7. For both, sitting outside in the cold was easy with the anticipation of seeing their favorite band from the front rows. And what a sight it was.

From the set’s beginning, Young the Giant packed plenty of energy. Gadhia broke a guitar string on the punchy and unapologetic leadoff track “Jungle Youth,” which can be found on the band’s third studio album, “Home of the Strange,” released this past August. Most of the night’s soundtrack came from the new record. “Something To Believe In” followed up for the band’s second tune and got a rowdy reaction when its opening note played through the sound system, and the tranquil “Titus Was Born” produced a similar reaction when introduced later on.

Another “Home of the Strange” track, “Art Exhibit” got a formal prelude from Gadhia. He explained how the song was written about pain and love, two of the only feelings he sees as “incorruptible.” During “Nothing’s Over,” all three Young the Giant string players — guitarists Jacob Tilley and Eric Cannata and bassist Payam Doostzadeh — comically danced in unison.

This all isn’t to say Young the Giant didn’t pepper in some older material during its set. For its third number, the band went with the swaying “I Got,” one of the more popular selections from the 2010 self-titled debut. “Cough Syrup,” another throwback that approaches the category of iconic, induced an applause usually held until the encore. And when the actual encore rolled around, the classic “My Body” got every body in the shed jumping.

Young the Giant’s sophomore album “Mind Over Matter” even made three appearances. The more lively title track, as well as the dance-y “Eros” were satisfying fillers mid-set. But the album’s best showing came from “Firelight,” a dreamy track that magnified when Gadhia instructed the crowd to break out their smartphone flashlights.

But before any of this could go down, the crowd needed to be revved up. Enter opening act Lewis Del Mar. The Queens, New York, outfit played just seven songs, but it didn’t need much more to warm up the room. One song, “Tap Water Drinking,” featured a bass solo to begin and gave the guitar the floor to end. Kids went bonkers.

And the F shed seemed to be the right choice of venue to go nuts in. Its general admission format produced a bond not available in stadium- or theater-style settings.

“It’s one big room and you feel connected with everyone else,” said Nick Hicks of Fulton, who was the first to get in line for admission to the venue. “I won’t go to a show if it’s not GA.”

Without the general admission format, Sisson wouldn’t have been able to experience that intimate moment with Gadhia as the show came to an end. It’s moments like those that make shows like these worthwhile.

“When I see their face I can feel what they’re doing,” she said. “I feel like I’m a part of it.”


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