In 2005, a band of Aussies rolled through Boise on tour with none other than Death Cab for Cutie. They played some whimsical indie-rock, melodic and melancholy—appropriate music for warming up a crowd full of Ben Gibbard fans—then drove on and were never heard playing music here again.
Last night, however, Youth Group made a triumphant return to Idaho with a free in-store show at the Record Exchange, the kind you have no excuse not to attend. Leaning on a shelf of CDs amid a dozen other fans, I was happy to see the Aussies back in town.
Youth Group began with three of the four members on stage, utilizing a stripped down setup with one acoustic guitar, one electric guitar and some drums. Drummer Danny Lee Allen took a minimalistic approach, sitting behind a snare, a floor tom and a crash cymbal, but made up for it with an arsenal of equipment to pummel the drums with, from customary sticks to mallets to a tambourine-like apparatus, even eschewing the kit at one point for a portable xylophone. The set began slow, with the focus on acoustic numbers sung by guitarist Toby Martin with electric guitarist Cameron Emerson-Elliott augmenting the melodies with scant electric work. Later bass player Patrick Matthews (formerly of Aussie grungers The Vines) joined the trio on stage, but sans bass to aid with vocals. As they played the set, the songs picked up in intensity. My memory was jogged back several years as stellar works of songwriting such as "Forever Young," a whimsical indie anthem and "Shadowland" a climaxing piece of instrumentation and poetry concluded the performance.
As the show ended though, guitarist Toby Martin explained a dilemma the band was in upon learning who would be at the Neurolux later.
"We were supposed to finish this gig then drive on to Baker City tonight, but then we did find out that Built to Spill is playing next door and they are one of our favorite bands. So now we don't know what to do. We're in a quandary. So if you see us drunk downtown later tonight you'll know what happened," said Martin.
I have a feeling they stuck around.