By EMILY HERMAN, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Neon Trees, the rock band known for radio-friendly hits like “Animal” and “Everybody Talks,” stopped by Rams Head Live! on July 18 for an intimate yet energetic show designed to appeal to their most dedicated fans.
Led by theatrical lead singer Tyler Glenn, the Utah-based band rocked through a 90-minute light show, featuring songs from throughout their career, including their new single “Songs I Can’t Listen To.” The night ended with a rousing cover of “Come On Eileen,” the 80s hit by Dexy’s Midnight Runners.
“If you have your arms folded and you're not sweaty yet, you're not doing it right," Glenn said early in the set.
In an exclusive interview with The News-Letter, guitarist Chris Allen said that although the band often plays big stadiums with fellow chart-toppers like Maroon 5, for this tour they chose to only visit venues that hold less than 1,500 people.
“It’s just the setting we like to perform in,” Allen said. “We’re still using our lighting that we were using on our bigger tours, so it’s high energy but it’s up close. There’s definitely a higher energy with everyone just closer together. You can feed off of each other.”
Allen also said that although they want to please their fans by playing the hits, they enjoy experimenting on stage.
“We pride ourselves on being a live band,” Allen said. “That’s where it’s at for us, the live show. We kind of take certain liberties and expand the songs.”
Despite the show’s high energy and elaborate staging, the band was still able to connect with fans by pausing periodically to reflect on their journey as artists and to express their gratitude.
Glenn, who publicly came out as gay last year after growing up closeted in Mormon-dominated Provo, Utah, also shared his thoughts on how both he and the world around him have changed throughout the band’s career.
“I've come to realize that it doesn't really matter where you're from because people have a lot of weird s*** happen to them,” Glenn said. “It feels like somehow something's coming around. People are paying attention to humanity and it feels really nice.”
Meanwhile, Allen noted that although the band just released a new single and music video, they have no plans to release another album.
“We were planning on taking this year off but we started to get a little stir-crazy so we decided to do this tour,” Allen said.
He also revealed that the band recorded a few more new songs before going on the road.
“I’m not sure what we’re going to do with the other songs, [and] I’m not sure when we’re going to write some more,” Allen said. “It has been eight or nine months since we had toured last, so we thought since we don’t know what will happen next, it would be cool to do a little tour for the fans.”
While this concert drew many of the devoted fans that Neon Trees had hoped to bring in, not everyone in the crowd could sing every word to every song. Instead, Glenn’s stage presence elevated the band beyond their persona as mainstream radio mainstays to bonafide rock stars.
“It feels like there’s not as much pressure because we already have a few successful songs and albums behind us,” Allen said. “We’re not thinking like, ‘What’s going to be the next hit song on the radio?’ We just kind of do our thing and we’re just comfortable.”
Neon Trees, who are traveling with Nashville band COIN and fellow Utah group Fictionist, will wrap up their tour July 26 at Boston’s Paradise Rock Club.