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Young The Giant Rock The Wiltern

Photos by Matt Ferguson

Young the Giant Rock the Wiltern

By Mike Duffy

Hours before Young the Giant took the stage at the historic Wiltern Theatre on Saturday night, a line of fans stretched around the block of Los Angeles’ Wilshire Blvd.

But to say the young crowd of indie-rock lovers were the most excited about the show would be an understatement.

For a band that has only one album under its belt, playing what would one of their largest headlining gigs to date was reason enough to get fired up.

“This show is exciting,” said guitarist Eric Cannata.  “It’s the first time we’ve actually played here, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

The Irvine, Calif., quintet took advantage of its opportunity at the landmark 2,300-seat venue.

Eric Cannata playing his Fender Select Stratocaster.

With two completely sold-out shows – Saturday and Sunday – Young the Giant got a chance to run through their entire catalog, play a few unreleased tracks and even pull out an enhanced cover of Gorillaz’ “Empire Ants” to wow the swaying masses.

Young the Giant came out to a sparse stage setup, displaying two Fender Select guitars and a bass around a backdrop that featured color-changing light boxes in tune to the music.

Through 14 songs and 75 minutes, Young the Giant both whipped the crowd into a sing-along frenzy and brought it down to a sea of nodding heads.

Singer Sameer Gadhia shook his tambourine to open things up with “I Got,” while “Guns Out” and “12 Fingers” were also crowd-pleasers.

But two moments stood out as blockbusters.

Of course, one must name-check “Cough Syrup,” the band’s biggest hit.  From the opening notes, the audience began clapping their hands and shouting out lyrics in unison with Gadhia while red lights were interrupted with swift white flashes from the boxes.  
The track is nominated for Best New Song at the OC Music Awards this month.

And when the string quartet came out for “Empire Ants,” the Wiltern’s classic vibe was fully realized, adding a fuller resonance that took up the entire room.

Sure, Young the Giant first performed it last year during a taping of MTV Unplugged, but in a space as vintage as the Wiltern — with its classic terra-cotta façade, neon signs and dramatic sunburst ceiling — the soaring sound of “Empire Ants” was incredibly epic.

For those of you looking to catch Young the Giant during their current tour, earmark a March 9 date in New York, where the string quartet is expected to guest again.  There is also talk of a D.C. gig at the 9:30 Club that will also feature the additional musicians.

“We rarely do the string quartet, and it’s usually just in cities where we have friends that can make up the quartet,” said Cannata.  “When we can do it, I think it just adds more layers to the sound.

“I hope we can put this together for some East Coast shows, as well.”

Following a short break, Young the Giant came back out for an encore that ended the show in the best way possible.

You go into encores thinking about what song the band hasn’t played, and “My Body” fit the bill for Young the Giant.

They pulled out “Islands,” but “My Body” was really what packed the club in the first place. Energetic and anthemic. To put it simply — big.

Perhaps the venue played a strong role in Young the Giant’s L.A. run, but the young band certainly did its part to bring enough heartfelt energy to the proceedings.

Surely, Young the Giant is building an empire of its own.  Los Angeles was a good start. 

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