Your New Beloved

Thursday night The Gothic Theatre, one of Denver’s most quaint and acoustically inviting venues, played gracious hosts to a very contrasting sell-out crowd for California rock influenced alt-poppers The Neighbourhood and Brooklyn’s lo-fi synth-rock outfit Lovelife as part of their nation wide The Love Collection tour. On a night which featured multiple sell out shows in the Metro area, we found a unique slice of frenetic energy meets subdued enthusiasm. Those two contrasting types of listeners in attendance made for an interesting, albeit very fun night and such a stylistically diverse crowd culminated in one of the most captivating events visually and auditorily. Now, this wasn’t the typical show for us Ninjas, with doors opening at 7:00 p.m. and the show concluding at 10:30, an hour at which we are normally just arriving. But, it was in all actuality quite a paradisaical way to spend a Thursday evening inside of one of the most progressive and fast-moving music scenes in the country.

Taking the stage at about 8:15 for an abbreviated, hour-long set was Brooklyn-via-London five-piece Lovelife, a band for whom always seems to strike a chord emotionally with us and our readers. If you have been following the career trajectory of frontman Leonard Newell and his previous self-proclaimed “grit-pop” project Viva Brother it likely seems slightly absurd that they have reinvented themselves as a synth-pop group. Viva Brother’s rapid rise and decline, which featured a six figure contract with Geffen not to mention a gigantic flop, was more than well-documented in their native U.K. by most mainstream music news outlets. Destined to be ‘The Next Big Thing’ before ever releasing an album, Viva Brother found themselves quickly as the whipping boys of independent music and an object of widespread vitriol due to their outward pretentious appearances in interviews and the infamous greeting at now defunct London venue The Flowerpot: “If you don’t want to hear the future of music, then leave now.” Within a year, Viva Brother had been featured on the cover of magazines like NME, and were broken up before the ball even began rolling. After such a whirlwind of media and fan backlash, Lee Newell relocated to Brooklyn last year, which seems as an outlet both musically and mentally, joining forces with Ally Young, formerly of Mirrors in the process and starting what couldn’t be more of a different group with Lovelife.

Now before I get too ahead of myself, I understand that most people were there for The Neighbourhood, and more specifically their insanely viral hit “Sweater Weather”, but part of what drives The Music Ninja is seeing new, exciting acts play great music. Needless to say, that is exactly what we received with our openers. Clad in black jeans, black tees and black leather jackets, Lovelife moved stealthily through their set, performing to an appreciative and seemingly educated crowd in the process. Morose synth-pop may not sound like it fits together, but in their case it absolutely works. While on a sonic level, Lovelife’s sound in concert was similar to that of their studio output; capturing it in a live setting delivers their music with much more force and poignancy. “Your Beloved” was played toward the end of their set, laying down a chillwavey ambience and they rolled that peak all the way until closing track “Tonight (We’re Taking Our Own Lives”. For the more in tune independent music connoisseur, their 60 minutes on stage had to have been a definitive highlight of the night, as it was certainly a set that stayed with us.

After a brief intermission filled with cheap cigarettes, and cheaper alcohol, it was time for more commercially heavy hitters with California’s The Neighbourhood. Opening to an erupted audience with “Let it Go”, lead singer Jessie Rutherford only made it halfway the track before ditching his heavy biker jacket in favor of a white-tee. That Denver stage heat gets the best of them though doesn’t it?  Tonally, the set matched their black-and-white aesthetic, and a misty haze was drawn over all in attendance before they really began to turn it loose. We were pretty sure it took their cover of Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name” that really piqued overall interest getting the Gothic Theatre positively psyched up, and from there it was a smattering of material off of critically acclaimed I Love You before a premature exit from the stage. They couldn’t have played a set without “Sweater Weather” could they? The murmurings were echoing throughout the auditorium. Of course not. After the smallest of off stage breaks, Mr. Rutherford took to the mic, breathlessly uttered “Y’all wanna hear that sweater song?”  and in one instant The Gothic Theatre’s decibel level reached an all-time high for the night with every last person helping the band through their breadmaker of a track.

The Neighbourhood and Lovelife made for a great pairing akin to wine and cheese, Thursday night and if you have the chance to catch one of the next two legs of The Love Collection featuring support from The 1975, please do so. See you ninjas on the floor this weekend!

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