There’s something about a modest, dimly lit concert venue that makes an audience come to life in a way a stadium or arena never could. Maybe it’s the forced intimacy of being packed like sardines, or maybe it’s the near-delirium that comes with overheated bodies.
Whatever the reason is, the small-venue energy was only amplified by New Politics’ electric performance at Skully’s Music Diner on Wednesday night.
The Danish electronic-rock group stopped in Columbus as part of their fall tour for their fourth album, “Lost in Translation.” Los Angeles-based Bikini Trill and New York City-based band, The Score, served as opening acts that left the audience energized and moderately sweaty. It wasn’t until New Politics came on, however, that the crowd erupted fully into an uproar.
Opening with “Loyalties Among Thieves,” the trio immediately captured the attention of the audience with their charisma and spunk. Transitioning smoothly into “Istanbul,” a song from their latest album, the band began to interact with the crowd. At one point, lead singer David Boyd grabbed a phone from the crowd and recorded himself singing into it.
Through overstated yet authentic moves, Boyd commanded the stage between breathless choruses and powerful vocals. The band’s relentless vitality spilled out into the crowd, who couldn’t help but scream along to popular songs like “Color Green” and “West End Kids.”
Throughout the set, New Politics conversed with the audience like old friends. “You guys look f***ing amazing,” Boyd said between sips of water. “And you sound unbelievable.”
Despite being the lead vocalist, Boyd never let the spotlight shine solely on him; he made multiple references to drummer Louis Vecchio’s impeccable percussion skills and bowed out for guitarist and vocalist Soren Hansen to speak. The camaraderie and playful demeanor of the group was sincere, and it only added to the feeling of community between the band and the audience.
After a quick instrumental break during which Boyd showcased his breakdancing ability, the band built upon the high energy with rock tunes and heavy electric guitar. In true rock-and-roll fashion, Boyd took the opportunity to enter the crowd, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with fans and aiming the microphone toward them to sing.
During the natural ebb and flow of the concert, after a few acoustic tunes, Hansen sat down at a keyboard and began to speak of Denmark. In an emotional anecdote, he mentioned his struggling family back home and asked the audience to dedicate the song “One of Us” to them.
The crowd sang and swayed together to Hansen’s pained, yet earnest vocals.
The band wrapped up the set with two of their better-known songs: “Yeah Yeah Yeah,” an angsty earworm of a tune and “Harlem,” a feel-good rock tune that can make anyone feel the urge to dance unrestrained. That’s exactly what the crowd did; with final bursts of energy, the audience rolled in waves across the floor, arms outstretched toward the stage and voices echoing.
Throughout the night, New Politics gave the impression that this concert was not “their” concert, it was “our” concert. They encouraged us to sing along, they held our hands, they took pictures on our phones. It was clear that the group was trying to create a collective, inclusive experience, and they were undoubtedly successful.