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Sunday, March 3, 2024
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Youth Lagoon brings the ‘Bughouse’ to the District

9:30 club-goers were welcomed to the ‘Bughouse’ on Sept. 16, as the venue showcased Youth Lagoon.

Youth Lagoon, the stage name of Trevor Powers, a 23 year-old from Boise, Idaho, began making a name for himself in the dream-pop music world in 2011 with the release of his debut album “The Year in Hibernation.” Two years later, Youth Lagoon followed up with the “Wondrous Bughouse” LP.

After the release of “Wondrous Bughouse,” critics and listeners alike commented on the change in Youth Lagoon’s sound. While “Hibernation” seemed to explore a more muffled and whimsical drone, “Bughouse” surprised listeners with bolder vocals and guitar riffs.

It was no surprise that no one knew what to expect as a tousled Powers stepped onto the 9:30 club stage, amidst a blanket of smoke and a backdrop of changing techno-colored lighting projections.

But Powers seemed to pull off the meshing of these two albums with ease, giving skeptics of the second album a reason to revisit the new sound. Youth Lagoon started the set off with “Attic Door” and “Sleep Paralysis” from the sophomore album, which eased the audience into Powers’ world of ambience and reverb.

But even with the dichotomy between the two albums, Powers’ transitions showcased his massive talent with synthesizers and reverb. From the dreamy “Sleep Paralysis,” Youth Lagoon easily transitioned to “Cannons” off of his debut album.

If the mixing of these sounds were not enough to entertain the audience, Powers’ antics on stage kept fans engaged. Between songs, Powers could often be seen punching his synth piano in excitement or zoning out on his drum machine hidden behind a flowery tapestry he had draped over his instruments. And while at first these actions seemed a bit strange, it was not until long that fans were sucked into Youth Lagoon’s dreamy lo-fi utopia, where strange seemed oddly normal.

And once fans entered this world of ambience, there was no turning back. Once the music began, Youth Lagoon did not pause to chat, as Powers disclosed that he is “not much of a talker,” at the start of the show. Instead, fans got their full ticket worth of music as Powers crooned one song after another.

Even among the ambience, Youth Lagoon still got the audience up and dancing with songs such as guitar-heavy “Dropla” and “Pelican Man,” just before bringing back their sleepy sounds with singles like “July” and “The Hunt.” Performing with a full band injected the songs with more life than what can be heard on the studio record.

The highlight of the performance came when the audience was greeted with the unmistakable opening to his single “17.” The audience sang along in full force as Powers began the familiar single’s nostalgic chorus.

Youth Lagoon kept the momentum of “17” strong throughout the second half of the show, following with newer songs such as “Mute,” “Raspberry Cane” and “Daisyphobia” before ending the show with “The Hunt.”

With the exception of “Montana,” which the band reluctantly excluded from the set despite fans’ continuous shouting in between songs, the audience got everything they could have asked for on a Monday night.

With this performance, Youth Lagoon brought the best of both worlds to the 9:30 club, showcasing a perfect mesh of the old and the new, and leaving fans wondering what Powers will put out next.

kbreitman@theeagleonline.com


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