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Youth Lagoon: A night of melodic confusion

As Trevor Powers and company took the stage Wednesday night, there was a general feel of something peculiar brewing in the musky air of Mojo’s.

A storm of psychedelic wonder was about to begin. Youth Lagoon had made it to Columbia.

A dream-pop group led by the brilliantly bizarre Idaho native Powers, Youth Lagoon launched into Pitchfork-status stardom with its debut album, The Year of Hibernation . Contrary to the predominantly dreamy, ambient style of that album, their sophomore effort, Wondrous Bughouse , incorporates a stranger, neo-psychedelia sound to match Powers’ eccentric lyrical style.

Powers, a baby-faced Robert Smith (of The Cure) lookalike with a notably disturbed persona, pushed full force into his trippy creation of sound. Opening with “Attic Doctor,” the band’s collective sound was colossal.

Powers’ synthesizer-piano combo created a mythically dreamworthy sound wave, while his backup band provided both menacing drumming and vibrant guitar licks. With such a unique sound to recreate live, Youth Lagoon did an impressive job keying in on each element a song called for instrumentally.

The band continued with two extraordinary performances of “Cannons” and “Dropla,” which tore through the audience like psychedelic tornadoes. After pointing toward the audience chanting “You’ll never die” repeatedly, Powers fronted a stupefying instrumental drop during “Dropla.”

The highlight of the evening was the slow, built-up masterpiece “July.” Played with every bit of emotion the studio version offers, the song hit hard with the chilling vocals of Powers and a mind-blowing jam fiesta incorporated into the track.

Still, one disappointing aspect of the show was the length. Playing a mere 45 minutes, Youth Lagoon only performed eight songs.

In addition, fans’ chants for an encore fell to a neglectful ear, as the band made no return after their final song. This left some fans (yours truly included) a bit sour, especially after expecting The Year of Hibernation gem “17” to conclude a wonderful Wednesday of live music.

Despite any set list shortcomings, the night held an attractive upheaval of dream-pop ditties. Youth Lagoon deserved every bit of attention fans could muster for their off-brand, beautiful music.

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