The logistics seemed stacked against Milky Chance and Young the Giant for their co-headlining bill last Thursday.
For one, it was a Thursday night—a day shy of the raucous, no-work-tomorrow kind of weekend energy that allows rent-weary Vancouverites to properly revel—and for two, it was way the hell out at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre, a venue that is nearly as exhausting to write out in full as it is to reach by transit. Add in that the co-headlining lineup saw the third and final performance start at 9:20pm, and you’ve got the makings for what could be a timid, bedtime-conscious crowd.
Thankfully, that wasn’t at all the case—specifically thanks to the energy exuding from frontmen Sameer Gadhia (Young the Giant) and Clemens Rehbein (Milky Chance).
Following an outstanding opening performance from Armenian singer-songwriter Rosa Linn, Rehbein and the rest of Milky Chance (Philipp Dausch, Antonio Greger, and Sebastian Schmidt) took to the stage flanked by rave-like light strips and obscured by a healthy dose of ambient fog.
Chalk it up to a combination of stage-strutting exuberance from Rehbein, the crush of a packed-in pit, and the foot-stomping beats working as the backbone to the band’s hits, but there was an evident electricity coursing through the floor and seated sections alike. Folks (including some sizable men) were bouncing around on the shoulders of their incredibly generous friends, the floor was packed shoulder to shoulder, and a choir of bonus vocals from fans was consistently kept up for the entirety of the setlist.
Milky Chance deviated from their own catalogue of songs for a haunting cover of “Tainted Love” about halfway through the performance, which entranced the crowd and led them into two of their biggest hits: the bouncy, breezy, beautiful folktronica favourite “Flashed Junk Mind”, which was followed immediately by “Stolen Dance” (the catchy tune that hasn’t left our heads for basically a decade).
But the most memorable moment from the band’s Vancouver visit came just two songs later. Reaching the crescendo of Sadnecessary’s “Running”, a seemingly slower track that has been somewhat overshadowed by the two previously mentioned standouts on the same album, Rehbein expertly coerced the crowd to settle down into a seat—the floor included. The lights went out, a hush fell, and for a brief moment, the entire arena took in a breath.
And then the song hit its double-time, and the keys, which are gently melodic on the songs’s Spotify version but were seemingly turned up to 11 for the live show, crashed into the crowd at the very moment it collectively sprung back onto its feet, arms to the sky, screaming, yelling, chanting. It was one of those rare live music moments that makes you go: “That. That’s why we came here.”
Fans were then given a 20-minute breather as Young the Giant set the stage up to their liking, and as the opening strings of “American Bollywood” kicked off the second half of the co-headlining event, frontman Sameer Gadhia—accompanied by bandmates Jacob Tilley, Eric Cannata, Payam Doostzadeh, and Francois Comtois—were greeted by a buzzing crowd that had already bought all the way in.
The band dropped the enduring ballad “Cough Syrup” as the third on their setlist, and though it has been an astounding 15 years since it first appeared on 2008’s Shake My Hand EP, the steady march of time only ensured that the vast majority of concert-goers could sing along when Gadhia passed the proverbial (and very literal) microphone to the voices shouting before him.
Decked out in a white suit (the jacket would eventually be shed to reveal a sleeveless, collarless floral dress shirt), heeled shoes, and a perfectly scruffy 9 o’clock shadow, Gadhia was the picture of indie rock. That picture was only emphasized by the constantly changing coloured lights and a favorably-placed fan that had the lead singer’s hair billowing.
Released in late 2022, the band’s latest album American Bollywood saw more than a handful of songs brought to the stage, including “Wake Up”, “Cult of Personality”, “Dancing in the Rain”, and “Dollar $tore”. Mixed in were some older offerings, including fan favourites like “Mind of Matter” and “Superposition”.
The rollicking, bombastic “My Body”—another member of 2011’s Young the Giant and a serious competitor for most iconic Young the Giant song—was saved for the closing encore. It was the perfect choice; every lyric in the second half of the four-minute song demands to be chanted, and the closing words perfectly encapsulated the mentality of the exhausted, 11pm Thursday crowd that was so enraptured it wasn’t even bothered by the fact that there was a long bus ride ahead:
My body tells me no but I won’t quit / Cause I want more cause I want more.