Neon Trees Go Nu Wave at The Fillmore
Bring down the house lights. Cue strobes and LEDs. The band takes the stage, their shadows flickering across a thin white curtain hanging from the rafters. Synthesizers and strings slowly amplify and reach an orchestral crescendo before the curtain drops to reveal a scene straight out of a nu wave fantasy.
The night was equal parts rock concert and 80’s cult film when Neon Trees hit up The Fillmore on their Pop Psychology Tour in late June. And you don’t need a degree in pop psychology, or any other discipline, to know that frontman Tyler Glenn was born in the wrong decade. 80’s clothes, 80’s hair, and some stellar 80’s dance moves punctuated the night from the first note of “Lessons in Love” to the last chorus of this year’s radio hit “Sleeping with a Friend.”
Another note on Glenn, his rapport with his crowd is truly commendable. Whether asking them to sing and dance along with him or ranting about the far reaches of social media, it’s clear that he is grateful for, and respectful of, the influence he has with his fans. As the show wound down, Glenn chose to share some thoughts regarding his recent difficulties accepting himself and re-connecting with his music prior to the creation of Pop Psychology. Having recently come out to the public, Glenn has become an icon for self-acceptance in the music community, especially among LGBTQ youth and allies. “Voices in the Halls,” the song that followed, is a powerful and haunting track, driven forward by Glenn’s strong vocals.
The rest of the night’s set list consisted primarily of new tracks from the band’s April release, Pop Psychology, including “I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends),” “Teenager in Love,” and “Unavoidable,” which featured duet-style vocals from Glenn and drummer, Elaine Bradley. As a fan of earlier Neon Trees material, I was pleasantly surprised to hear “Mad Love” and “Trust” off of Picture Show, and even more excited for “Your Surrender,” the third single taken from the band’s debut album, Habits.
Speaking of singles, the show would not have been complete without “Animal,” the punchy, upbeat track that put Neon Trees on an entire generation’s radar back in 2010. Another necessity, “Everybody Talks,” worked it’s way into the band’s encore, which Glenn opened with a tribute to The Pixies. Expertly covering “Where Is My Mind?,” Glenn shared the stage with a giant inflatable brain. Finally, just when we thought the night was over, we were treated to one last song, “First Things First,” which is quickly becoming my favorite Pop Psychology track. With a bow, Neon Trees brought the house lights down, releasing us from the fantasy and sending us back into the real world.