By Shanelle Macaraeg
Young the Giant’s nearly year-long, nationwide tour brought the Southern California-based rock band to Maui for the first time on Jan. 14.
The tour supports the band’s third studio album, “Home of the Strange.” Island fans of indie, alternative rock enjoyed the show, held in the Castle Theater at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, from the opening chords.
Young the Giant first appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2011 after the release of a self-entitled studio album. Band members have been playing together in various incarnations since 2004
The band’s frontman, Sameer Gadhia, began forming the band with friends he knew from middle school and high school. What started as a garage band in Irvine, Calif., turned into a blossoming career.
Prior to headlining its own North American tour for the first time in 2015, Young the Giant performed at major music festivals after breaking out in 2011. The band’s success ranged from multiple performances on shows like “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and the “MTV Video Music Awards” to having its song “Cough Syrup” covered on the musical television show “Glee.”
It’s easy to see “Home of the Strange” is a play on the term “home of the brave.” The album centers on the story of an immigrant and his journey of self-discovery as he explores a new land.
The narrative is based on the band members’ background histories. All members are either immigrants or children of immigrants.
In a National Public Radio interview, Gadhia said: “My parents are Indian. Francois (Comtois), our drummer, is from Montreal.
“Jacob (Tilley) I met the first time he ever came to America, the first day of middle school. He’s British.
“Payam (Doostzadeh) is of Persian descent, and Eric (Cannata) is Italian and Jewish.”.
The message of finding your place in a new country while keeping roots to one’s own culture is relevant as immigration in America remains a contentious political issue. The lyrical meaning is especially relatable to those in Hawaii, where much of the population has descended from immigrants who made a place for themselves here during the plantation era.
The concert opened with Ivory City, an up-and-coming pop-punk band locally sourced from Oahu. This four-piece band received the opportunity to perform on the same stage as Young the Giant though the BAMP Project, which is dedicated to providing venues for musical talent to perform in Hawaii.
Ivory City warmed up the crowd with a set list of synth sounds and electronic beats that got everyone dancing. The band’s sound is reminiscent of the early days of The 1975, clearly an influential band to Ivory City given that two members donned the band’s T-shirts onstage.
Once it was time for the main act to take the stage, the audience was teeming with anticipation. The modern-rock track “Jungle Youth” kicked off the performance, immediately bringing the audience to its feet.
The set list consisted of material from the band’s newest album as well as the older tracks that initially launched Young the Giant into stardom. The performance of songs from the first album like “My Body” was a nostalgic experience for long-time followers of the band.