My fellow press photographers and I were escorted through a cleared path that cut straight through to the pit at the front of the Tabernacle stage. As fans awaited the members of Young the Giant to hit the stage February 22 in downtown Atlanta, the air was thick with anticipation, humid heat, and filled with the murmurs of eager fans. When we reached the designated area for the press, my nose was greeted by the edge of the stage. It didn’t register in my mind just how close I would be to the band until the lights dimmed and a wall of screams bombarded me as the members of Young the Giant stepped onto the stage. The first few notes of “Anagram” caused the screams to double in force and volume.
Whenever the beat dropped, the drums pounded, or the mood of the song shifted, the lights behind the band added to the story each song was portraying. The lights mimicked the music and the audience mimicked the lights. Fists pounded the air in time to the drums and lights flashed, all simultaneously. A fast song slowly trickled into a melancholy melody and the lights lost their intensity and faded from ferocious reds and yellows into deep, almost black, blues and purples.
One of my favorite songs of the night was “Firelight.” The hypnotic sounds from the guitar, mixed with lead singer Gadhia’s gentle singing, made my chest swell up with an unknown feeling I can’t quite name. Accompanied by the tranquil state of the crowd, my eyes filled with tears as I felt the music engulf my mind.
Near the end of the night, Gadhia made an announcement before the next song. “This song really means a lot to us,” he told the crowd. All night I had been waiting to hear “Cough Syrup” and I knew if I didn’t hear it, I would be slightly disappointed. I was relieved when the first familiar notes rolled over the screams erupting from all corners of the hall.
Gadhia’s voice merged along with every other person in the audience as we all sang together. Every pause and inflection was met with long-time practice and precision. For me, it was like seeing an old friend and feeling as if nothing had changed. This was the second time during the show that my emotions ran wild with the music, bringing me tears of sheer joy, while I smiled and sang until my throat was raw.
Hearing Young the Giant live gave me a deeper appreciation of the group. They put so much passion, soul, and feeling into each and every song they performed and I could feel it. The crowd wasn’t just clapping and cheering, those who knew the words, myself included, sang along to song after song.
It was beautiful to see the crowd’s reaction after the first strums of the guitar and to see hundreds of bodies sway to the beat of the same drum. Being able to experience Young the Giant live and to be able to connect with the music on a whole new level is something I will never forget. The band’s studio recordings pale in comparison against a live YTG show.