Pop-Break Live: Neon Trees (House of Blues – Atlantic City)


So taking on the Neon Trees concert was an adventure, to say the least. As you walk into the House of Blues in Atlantic City, New Jersey, all you could see were hipsters and unique personalities. I should’ve known right away that the night was going to be far more different than any concert I had experienced in the past few years.


First to grace the stage was the unique, Nightmare and the Cat. I had never heard of this indie rock band prior to this performance and the jury is still out as to whether or not I want to hear them again. The band took the stage with an aura of strange energy. The music initially had a fun 80s vibe and the lead singer has a great voice and the harmonies were phenomenal. So why is the jury still out? The band members are peculiar, even for being a British-American band. Every song started to blend into one and they aren’t known enough to be that weird and get away with it. I could also do without seeing the lead singer gyrate all night. As for the music, the lyrics were indecipherable which could have been a sound board issue more than an enunciation issue but, either way, I was initially pleasantly surprised and that faded quickly. Small doses with this band and I may just be okay with them.

Following Nightmare and the Cat was Smallpools. My expectations were low and those expectations were not alleviated when their stage crew put two dog statues on the edge of the stage as the final pre-performance preparation. Finally the band takes the stage and they look like a disheveled group of men who couldn’t care less about what people think about the clothes they wear or how they look. Despite my low level of anticipation, I was utterly blown away. I went home and immediately downloaded the band’s EP. The music was refreshing, upbeat, fun, and reminded me a bit of Andrew McMahon. Lead singer, Sean Scanlon, has a phenomenal falsetto and the rest of the band were great at managing the crowd. They joked around asking about if anyone actually knew who they were, did a great job killing time when the lead singer got all tangled up in wires and got people laughing. They discussed searching twitter for their band name and found, instead of results about the band, people angry about whales being stuck in small pools so they wrote a song called “Killer Whales.” If I had to pick a favorite song for the entire night, it would be “No Story Time.” Check out that song or any of the band’s songs out as soon as possible. Smallpools is a band to keep an eye on; they are destined for great things.

Photo Credit: Dan Monick
Photo Credit: Dan Monick

Now on to the main event. Neon Trees played half of its first song from behind a curtain. Once that curtain dropped, so did my jaw. I have never seen a spectacle quite like the one on the stage before me. Lead singer, Tyler Glenn, graced the stage in a purple suit with a sparkly cape, blinged out glove on his left hand, gold shoes and heart shaped sunglasses. The guitarist was in a pink suit jacket, and the bassist had the most glittery guitar I have ever seen. The image was a trip. There were multiple wardrobe changes and I’m pretty sure a brain was inflated on stage during the encore. Regardless of the spectacle, I was pleasantly surprised by the music of the Neon Trees. I only really knew a few of the band’s songs but as they performed, it was easy to pick up the lyrics and sing along to songs that I didn’t know prior. Also, Glenn is a performer. He was meant to be a triple threat, actor/dancer/singer. The vocals were impressive, the dance moves were intense and the emotion was apparent with each song. I have never seen someone perform and embody the emotion of so many songs in such a short period of time. Simply put, the Neon Trees know how to put on a show.

There was never a dull moment during the Neon Trees set and there was always something to watch. For anyone who has never given the Neon Trees a fair shot and only know “Animal,” give them a genuine listen. “Sleeping With a Friend” is a great new track and if you want to listen to something funny, try “I Love You But I Hate Your Friends.” The Neon Trees will be performing this summer as part of the SummerStage series in Central Park and is on tour throughout the US currently. If you have the opportunity to catch this show, do it. You’ll be surprised, entertained, and pleasantly befuddled.

Press Credit: Andrew Zaeh
Press Credit: Andrew Zaeh

The set list for the Neon Trees was as follows:
Lessons in Love
Your Surrender
Love in the 21st Century
Moving in the Dark
Text me in the Morning
I Love You but I Hate your Friends
Mad Love
Teenager In Love
Close to You
Voices in the Hall
Living in Another World
Don’t You Want Me (Cover)
Sleeping With a Friend
Where is My Mind (Cover)
Everybody Talks
First Things First