Updated: Mar 2
New York is a hell of a city. It is huge, full of many happenings, and every borough is a different world. Seeing any concert in New York City is an experience within itself. There’s a stadium in Queens called Forest Hills Stadium. There’s a band called The Neighbourhood that happened to be playing there this past Saturday. A band that has been around for ten years or so, they are pretty damn good. A mix of alternative music and a monochromatic theme to them for the better part of ten years, the band recently released Chip Chrome and The Monotones. Chip was a journey into a fantasy world with the lead singer Jesse taking on the alter ego of Chip Chrome and the rest of the band, the Monotones. The stadium is in the middle of a neighborhood (no pun intended) and was easy to get into. After you got past the extra step of showing your vaccine card and ID (a normal occurrence at this point in NYC and other places), the stadium was full of people walking around by the time I got in. Open air stadium on a cool night. The energy was there already. The band dropped a single, “Fallen Star,” on the Friday before the show. These guys knew what they were doing giving a cult following of fans and followers exactly what they wanted.
The openers, Yeek & Dora Jar, were not bad at all. Both got love from the crowd and performed a couple of songs each. They fit the moody, alt vibe but both had their own style. Both are worth checking out if you like The Neighbourhood. The only exception to the moody, alt vibe was the various social media influencers who were vlogging as you walked around and got to your seat. At least they stopped once the show started...I think. Anyways, Field Medic had the dual role of being host/performer and was entertaining. He is a folk singer with a lo fi, psychedelic twist. He performed a few songs and had some banter in between before he announced, “CHIP CHROME HAS LANDED.”
The band came out dressed in their signature black Monotones look and Jesse strolled out as Chip, his silver, chrome grill, spandex wearing, David Bowie inspired alter ego. The familiar intro to “Pretty Boy” dropped, Chip belted out “Even if my heart stops beating,” and the crowd on the floor of Forest Hills Stadium rushed to the stage all in unison. Everybody else in the stands stood up and 90% of us never sat back down for the next hour and 45 minutes. They played most of the songs off Chip Chrome and The Monotones including “Devil’s Advocate,” “Stargazing,” “Lost in Translation,” “Cherry Flavoured,” and more. The crowd sang along word for word with pretty much every song off Chip. Jesse’s vocals during those songs gave off a rawness at times and smoothness at other points. Jesse or Chip was dancing during guitar solos and was feeling it. He gave off Mick Jagger and Ziggy Stardust vibes and the crowd was loving it. The mix of new and old fans that make up the cult following of this band meshed well. For playing the newer material for the first time in 2 years, the band sounded amazing. Sound wise, you could hear that prominent bassline in “Devil’s Advocate” and synth vocals of “Cherry Flavoured” all around you and it really set a tone throughout the show. “Stargazing” (my favorite) was a crowd favorite. No exaggeration, the crowd was losing their minds during most of the songs. One of the last songs on Chip, “Tobacco Sunburst,” played and as it was finishing, a string section came out and joined the band. The string section played for 3-4 minutes and were a hell of an addition to the song. As the string section rounded out the song, the band disappeared to the sides of the stage for those couple minutes. The crowd did not seem to care.
The band reappeared as The Neighbourhood and dropped “Sweater Weather,” which sent all of us in the crowd into a frenzy amid the fireworks, energy, and lights coming from the stage. I’m sure most people who were 16+ in the mid 2010’s have heard that song. One of those “you know the song but not the band” type of things. For the next hour, they ran through their catalog from their first album to EP’s in between and hitting a couple off their last album, It’s Hard To Imagine The Neighbourhood Is Changing, along the way. Songs they played included popular ones like “Prey,” “The Beach,” “WDYWFM,” “High All The Time,” “Compass,” “Afraid” among others. Like I said, the crowd knew most of them word for word and you could tell Jesse was having a good time. He screamed “THIS SHIT IS EMOTIONAL IT’S BEEN TWO YEARS,” stopped and looked around for a second, and then the band went into the next song. He stopped five times or so to call for help for a couple dehydrated (or drunk) fans commenting at one point “I know the signs!” At least he gave a damn. During “Daddy Issues,” girls were belting out the chorus as their dads (and boyfriends) stood next to them. I wonder what was going on in their heads. The band improvised solos, guitar, and drum breaks with a smoothness reserved for a bunch of guys who have now played with each other for 10 years at least. Just when the energy hit a high, the band ran back “R.I.P. To My Youth” in the middle of the song and it turned the building up a notch for the last part of the show. An hour and a half into the show and they barely showed signs of slowing down. His trademark chain dropped from the ceiling of the stage and as the end of the song is playing, Jesse starts to swing on the chain. He swung back and forth and was twirling around the stage. It was a real rock star moment and awesome to see. Before what would be the last song, Jesse said “I started a band with my best friends and here we are.” This band of best friends asked if we wanted one more and dropped “Stuck With Me,” a personal favorite from IHTITNIC. My plans to leave out to grab my Uber disappeared. It was worth the stay. As we sang the song start to finish, fireworks and giant sparklers went off all over the stage. The band is playing their asses off, Jesse is swinging from his chain, and as the song ends, they take it all in. The cheering from the crowd was deafening and the crowd wanted even more than the hour and forty-five-minute show we already got. The band ran towards the side of the stage, the drummer threw his sticks into the crowd, and they all jumped off the stage as they got off. You could truly feel the excitement, exhilaration, and energy in the place.
The Neighbourhood did not disappoint live. It was upbeat, vibrant, and they put on a hell of a show to say the least. The band fed off the electricity of the crowd and you could hear in it the way they sounded and the way they played. Their newest album, Chip Chrome and The Monotones sounded great live. When you see people lose their shit at a show, that is how you know it is a good show. As mentioned before, you could tell the band was taking it all in and enjoyed being back on stage playing live. The hoarse voice was worth it. It was nice to see a band live again and get that same feeling you get every time you see an amazing show. The Neighbourhood are not just performers, they embody what rock n roll is.
Jesse swinging on the trademark chain