Neurolux was packed to the gills with Boise's culturati last night. As one patron put it, "Every hipster who is any hipster is here." Most of the tables had to be moved out to accommodate the crowd.
The draw was Youth Lagoon, Boise's best chance to be known for something other than blue turf.
But it was more than just a rare hometown show, it was the live debut of Youth Lagoon's expanded lineup and material from its sophomore album, Wondrous Bughouse, which is set to be released Tuesday, March 5.
In my opinion, it was the first time Youth Lagoon wasn't wildly disappointing as a live act.
The stage was set with white triangles of cloth that looked like rabbit ears or the ghostly spires of a cathedral bathed in slowly melting colored smoke. It made the Neurolux's modest club stage feel as big as a ballroom.
The band stepped onstage to the pre-recorded noises that open Wondrous Bughouse, then cut into it's opening track.
The addition of Jake Warnock from Atomic Mama on bass and Eric Dangerfield Rogers on drums gave the band a massive sound. The tinny clap of a drum machine was replaced with a drummer who swings from the shoulder. The presence in the low end was enough to rattle bones.
For the first time, the band looked and sounded as big as its reputation.
The difference the rhythm section made was most obvious when Warnock and Rogers stepped offstage for frontman Trevor Powers and guitarist Logan Hyde to perform several older songs as a duo. The bottom dropped out something fierce.
The expanded sonic and visual presence also carried with it a great irony: Much of the band's new material, which falls somewhere between experimental synthesizer product demos and an indie-rock version of Yellow Submarine, is bizarre enough to undercut the newfound oomph.
It didn't help that Powers offered little-to-nothing in the way of stage banter, saying only a few words the whole show.
But if that bothered the audience, it didn't show. The front of the stage was lined with dancing Lagoonatics that screamed for an encore for a sustained three minutes after the set ended. They got one.
Wondrous Bughouse will be released Tuesday, March 5. The band has appearances booked at SXSW, Treefort, Sasquatch and Coachella, and will be hitting the road for up to two years to push the new album domestically and abroad. If it plays as well on the road as it did at Neurolux, then the bughouse may turn out to be wondrous indeed.