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Young the Giant stomps into town, shakes up sold-out Columbus crowd

Cody Cousino/ / Photo editor

For its third time playing at Newport Music Hall and first time headlining there, Young the Giant shook up the music hall and proved it was headline-worthy.

The young pop band from California won over the sold-out crowd Saturday with its explosive energy, catchy songs you can’t resist dancing to and crowd surfing.

The opening band, Walk the Moon, fit well with Young the Giant. With roots in Cincinnati and Columbus, the band members displayed brightly-colored, tribal-like face and body paint. I must have missed the memo to wear my own face paint to the show, but representatives roamed the very crowded music hall providing similar looks to fans.

I was extremely impressed with lead singer Nicholas Petricca’s vocal range, but also his ability to sing, play the keyboard and drums — often simultaneously — and even improvise with the microphone stand at times. For my first encounter with Walk the Moon, I can’t say a bad thing about a band who covers David Bowie well.

Young the Giant kicked off its set with “I Got,” a popular, slower song from its self-titled debut album released in January 2011. It played a pleasing mix of its newer songs, such as “12 Fingers” and “Strings,” with a few that have yet to be recorded.

There’s something to be said about the relationship between the band and the audience that night. They fed off each other. Every song was an experience. Each band member was so engulfed in their music and in the moment that it seemed they were having as much fun as the jumping, dancing, singing crowd. I often worried lead singer Sameer Gadhia would pop a vein during his passionate spurts of cavorting and switching between his regular microphone and an old-school ribbon microphone.

After a very fast hour, the band took a small break before its encore, which was by far the most novel encore I’ve ever experienced at a concert — and I’ve been to a lot. For anyone who has ever heard even a snippet of Young the Giant’s music, you would have been surprised when it busted out its version of R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix).” And the crowd ate it up. It was hilarious, but fun — presumably a fair representation of the band’s personality.

And finally, it ended the night with the hit “My Body,” and the crowd erupted. The energy in the tiny, hot hall climaxed and I would be shocked if a single soul didn’t dance at least a little bit in those four minutes. While crowd surfing is standard at Newport, I don’t think anyone expected the lead singer to participate near the end of the final song, so much that he lost his earpieces in the pit.

I woke up the day after the show with their songs stuck in my head and a craving to dance to their tunes at 9 a.m. Any concert that fails to inspire that feeling has surely failed. And Young the Giant certainly succeeded.

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