Written by Robert Johnson
Jan 16, 2013 at 08:00 PM
Before their set, we caught up with Youngblood Hawke for an interview. Check it out below:

Now onto the show:

ImageEnergy. That’s how Nik Hughes (drummer) describes Youngblood Hawke. Short and simple, yet it really is the perfect way to describe the Los Angeles quintet. The talented, enthusiastic group has toured extensively since their formation in 2011. Every time out, the tours were progressively bigger and better.  Coming off a critically acclaimed tour with Passion Pit, Youngblood Hawke has kicked off the year as the showcase act for Keane’s Strangeland Tour, touring the country from coast to coast. On January 16, Youngblood Hawke made their first-ever stop in Houston, TX for a scintillating performance in front of the sold out audience at the House of Blues.

Sam Martin, Alice Katz, Tasso Smith, Simon Katz, and Nik Hughes took the stage with authority. Immediately, Alice, Sam, and Nik assumed drum kits set up throughout the stage. As Alice, Sam, and Nik aggressively set the beat, Simon and Tasso set up a sonic landscape, offering up effect-laden guitar riffs to suit the earthquake of drums that were quickly enveloping the venue. At the crescendo, the band seamlessly transitioned into an electrifying version of “Rootless.”

“Rootless” was the ideal song to open the set. One of the band’s original songs, it is an upbeat, guitar-rich track that is familiar for existing fans, yet genre-neutral enough to engage those unfamiliar with their work. It’s also the perfect introduction to the chemistry of the band. For “Rootless,” the band members fed off one another’s energy and operated as a cohesive unit, yet still stood out individually for their masterful performances.

ImageFor the next four songs, the band performed brand new tracks from their upcoming full-length release. “Danny Boy” is an upbeat, catchy track that combines the sounds and feel of their popular single, “We Come Running” and the aforementioned “Rootless.”  The next song, “In Our Blood,” was a refreshing display of the bands ability use their band member’s unique talents to the highest potential. Simon Katz, who primarily plays live keyboard and guitar, took a much more significant singing role in the song. Although Sam Martin is the undisputed frontman of this act, his ability to flow vocally with Simon and Alice lends itself well to the dynamics of the songs. Certainly, this is a formula that has worked in the past. Bands like Taking Back Sunday, Blink 182, and Shiny Toy Guns have all had astonishing success on the back multiple prominent vocalists.

In “Come Looking,” the band slowed things down a bit, but continued in the same vein as “In Our Blood,” again utilizing the talents of Simon and Alice to enhance Sam’s lead. With “In Our Blood” and “Come Looking,” it’s clear that the band is well on the way to refining a signature sound. For “Protect Yourself,” the band took a swift turn in another direction.  While most Youngblood Hawke songs are maximalist in nature, “Protect Yourself” is stripped of electronics.  A little bit grunge, a dash of pop, and a splash of hip hop, “Protect Yourself” is an aggressive song, highlighted by powerful, strong guitar riffs and heavy drums.

ImageAfter giving the crowd a view into the future record, Youngblood Hawke got back to songs from their EP with “Stars (Hold On).” However, it was the next song, “We Come Running,” that really drove a shot of enthusiasm into the crowd. From television to radio, “We Come Running” can be heard just about anywhere these days. It is a song that live crowds crave and the band clearly loves to perform. Sam made use of all of the available space on the stage, dancing and moving from side to side, as the crowd embraced the band as their own. At the end of their final act, “Glacier,” the band members all found the nearest percussion instrument to play out just as they had entered… pounding the hell out of the drums.

Every now and then, a band comes along that breaks the traditional roles of live performance. It takes a special band to be different, yet stand out out for their accomplishments and not their behavior. Youngblood Hawke is that band. The group isn’t simply made up of a guitarist, a keyboardist, a drummer, and a singer. Rather, Youngblood Hawke is a group of five brilliant musicians talented enough to do it all, expressing their artistry in any way that moves them. They’re happy. They’re fun. They’re energetic. Most of all, they’re really freaking good.

Set List:
Danny Boy
In Our Blood
Come Looking
Protect Yourself
Stars (Hold On)
We Come Running

Click here for photos from the show.

* Contact Robert at robert@starsandsatellites.com