Here's the problem with Neon Trees. At some point, the entire thing is going to grow tired.
Seen last Friday at the Revolution in Fort Lauderdale, the entire set felt like a carbon copy of David Bowie. While Tyler Glenn has never shied away from his affection for glam-rock's poster boy, Glenn's version of Bowie 2.0 felt a little over the top. By the end of the night, he almost felt like a caricature of himself. Insofar as a live band, there was little to complain about. The songs were strong, had few flaws and the energy was definitely tangible. Utilizing a drummer as a fill-in for Elaine Bradley (who is currently at home with a newborn baby), and a lethal tandem of two more than capable guitarists, the songs were shimmering, buzzy and full of flair.
But never once did the set feel like a band. Instead it felt far more like the Tyler Glenn show. Being that the band only has 19 songs of recorded material, the set itself was also brief and brisk and without a cover. While Glenn made every effort to engage the crowed (including a stage dive towards the end of the set), at some point it all felt a bit too much. As if Lady Gaga was trying to front a power pop band. Highlights of the set included a piano version of "Your Surrender," a near six minute-version of "1983," and a powerhouse performance of the band's ubiquitous hit "Animal."
Opening the set was the Columbus, OH duo Twenty One Pilots, a tandem that includes frontman/pianist Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun. Ostensibly a hip-hop/electro-pop outfit, the group is most definitely commercial, undeniably accessible and wholly engaging. Frontman Joseph is a born performer and has all the swagger and confidence of a seasoned veteran. In short, he walked on stage and commanded the room to take notice. If Glenn was the Bowie of the night, Joseph was the Freddie Mercury. The band recently signed to Fueled by Ramen and has a three-song EP available on iTunes. Of all three bands, they were the most entertaining and they definitely had a flair for the dramatic. If anything, this is definitely a band that needs to be on the proverbial music radar. Friday's set proved exactly that.
Sandwiched in between Twenty One Pilots and Neon Trees was Cincinnati's Walk the Moon, who have recently found commercial success with their brisk lead single "Anna Son," and a self-titled album on RCA. Of all three bands they were the most artist-driven. Additionally they were the only band who seemed to understand that substance matters over image. Whereas Twenty One Pilots and Neon Trees seemed more interested in aesthetic as intrigue, Walk the Moon allowed their songs do the talking. And talk they did. Whether it was the sweetly affecting "Me And All My Friends," or the hyper-caffeinated and surefire single "Next in Line," there was a dizzying and intoxicating quality about the band's kinetic live set. By the end of the night, it was these Ohioans that might have made the loudest statement of all.