Young the Giant, Cold War Kids, Joywave join forces

Trio of indie rock bands delivers solid yet predictable show

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 Young the Giant, Cold War Kids and Joywave brought a multitude of predictable but still impressive indie and pop to the Sprint Pavilion.

Hannah Mussi | Cavalier Daily

It was Joywave’s “first appearance in Charlottesville,” according to Daniel Armbruster, the band’s charismatic lead singer who amiably announced his band’s own novelty to a hoard of 20-somethings who actually did know the words, despite the act’s self-proclaimed first-timer status. The cluster of fans huddled near the stage cheered under the fading daylight of 7 p.m., while Joywave erupted into its their sixth song — another one far too rocking for little Charlottesville on a Tuesday, barely an hour into the evening. 

Underneath the tent-like dome of the Sprint Pavilion, Joywave, along with the Cold War Kids and main act Young the Giant, delivered a lengthy showing of alternative / indie / rock / pop tunes that consisted of five or six solid standout numbers and a blurry buffet of “songs that aren’t the hits.” Despite all three of the band’s having no more than two or three top-notch tracks that hit the charts and cruised radio time for several months each, the show was able to maintain a decent energy and — more importantly — a positive vibe on a warm, end-of-summer evening in a recently wounded downtown Charlottesville. 

Near 8 p.m., after Joywave’s short but energetic set — proving itself to be a powerhouse of an opening act — the second indie rock band of the night’s trifecta took the stage. Compared to the youth and vivacity and sheer sonic power of Joywave, the Cold War Kids seemed to lack energy, as one song blurred into another without a significant show of interest from the audience. Until, that is, the band played their most recent hit, “Can We Hang On?” 

At the onset of this upbeat, pop-rock anthem from their spring release “L.A .DIVINE,” there was a speedy migration of fans from their previous station of smoking cigarettes on the back of the lawn to the pit. Pressed to the stage, an eclectic mix of tattooed townies and University students not in the library on a Tuesday night danced to lyrics that take on a special meaning when sung in Charlottesville — “I think about tomorrow / If I can get through tonight / I know that we’ll be alright / Can we be strong?”

A Rihanna cover, an honorable speech about the importance of immigrants, a rousing rendition of their most popular song “First” and an incredibly long but impressive jam session later, the Cold War Kids left the stage, kicking off a 30-minute stretch of dead time before Young the Giant came on. 

By this point, the venue was as full as it was going to get, at a solid 75 to 80 percent capacity — a decent pull for a Tuesday night concert in a relatively small town featuring three bands that hold a vague “almost famous” status. A brief glance at the audience by an onlooker during that half-hour of waiting would give an interesting cross-section of Charlottesville — seven-year old kids who are up past their bedtime on a school night, dancing at a concert downtown with their “cool mom,” sitting a few feet from a 40-year old man with a beer and a tattoo sleeve who came alone and is now surrounded by University students all wearing the same Adidas Superstars and leggings. But nobody was alienated by the other — it was all just part of the laid-back magic of an indie rock concert. 

Finally, Young the Giant took the stage to an uproarious cheer that immediately quelled any doubts that most of the audience came specifically for them. In its long and steady set, the standout tracks were predictable — 2011’s inquisitively poetic hit “Cough Syrup,” 2014’s pop-inspired “Mind Over Matter” and last year’s new favorite “Something to Believe In.” The winning song by far, “My Body,” came at the very end, unfortunately after many of the audience found reason to quietly leave. Still, it was so loud, the evacuated members could probably hear it on their late-night walk home. 

As what as left of the audience trickled out of the venue last night, there was an aura of calm and contentedness. Whether the concert-goers thought the night was the best of their life or a vaguely bland display of the current indie-rock music genre would be hard to tell. Everyone seemed to be in a state of sleepy, happy peace — which is all Charlottesville could really ask for.

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