Photos by Katrina Lat
Upon arriving to REBEL on a cold Thursday night in October, I was met with one of the longest lines I’ve ever seen at this venue. People could be overheard talking about just how long they’d actually been in line for – some even saying they’d been there since seven in the morning. It was a scene not much different than the last time The Neighbourhood came to Toronto four years prior.
The line moved less than efficiently into the building, but I managed to get inside to catch the tail end of ReBounder, who paid homage to Toronto by covering Alvvays, a local band dear to the hearts of Torontonians. After they left the stage, the crowd quickly became anxious to catch a glimpse of Jesse Rutherford and The Neighbourhood. Everybody packed in to the space trying and get as close to the stage as possible, with “The Neighbourhood” plastered on the backdrop in a Halloween-esque font. A chain hung down from the rafters with a microphone dangling from it, which became a key prop throughout the entire performance.
Eventually, projected across the stage was the band’s infamous upside-down house logo, a homing beacon as the band took the stage. The crowd instantly erupted in cheers for each of the band members as they waved to the crowd. Rutherford took the stage last, screaming girls calling and reaching for him as he swung over the crowd by his microphone chain. The high energy of the crowd maintained throughout the eerie ballad How, the opening song of their first album. They quickly transitioned into R.I.P. To My Youth, a song that was a key point in the change-up of the band’s sound.
The show provided a fairly even mix of each of The Neighbourhood’s albums and EP’s, with a heavier focus on their most recent project, their self-titled album. One of the beautiful things about the band is that they seem to genuinely enjoy performing. Rutherford paraded around the stage, perfectly capturing the bittersweet narcissism that is the essence of their sound. While his energy was a driving force behind the performance, the crowd kept up their excitement no matter what the band did. Whether they were dancing across the stage to their upbeat songs like Dust, Cry Baby, and Softcore, or serenading the crowd with Sadderdaze, the audience was crazy for The Neighbourhood.
After dedicating Wires to their day one fans, the climax of the performance came when Rutherford threw himself into the crowd, almost appearing to swim across the sea of his adoring fans in true rock star fashion. Once he returned to the stage, the band took a minute to catch their breath and multiple members of the audience were escorted out to receive medical attention. Rutherford began to tell the story of the last time they were at this venue, which was back when it was called Sound Academy. He explained that there was ice covering Lake Ontario, bitter cold being a notable part of the day, making it the perfect weather to wear a sweater. Before he could even transition into the band’s biggest hit, several audience members screamed “Sweater Weather!” Rutherford milked the attention, begging the question, “What was that?” The crowd continued to introduce the next song as the opening drum riff began. Sweater Weather launched the band into fame, a staple song in any indie music playlist. Rutherford barely even needed to sing, the crowd taking the lead on belting out the lyrics. It was one of those moments that makes everybody in the room realize just how special music can be.
They closed out the show with Stuck With Me, off their latest album, forfeiting the option of doing an encore, which has been a creative choice consistent throughout this tour. The intense energy of this concert, strobe lights and all, left the crowd pouring out of the venue talking about moments that were special to each of them, and will likely leave them talking about The Neighbourhood for a long time.