Photos by Cole Rojahn
“I was working a desk job at the time, a graphic design job,” Jacob Lee Wick tilts his head, to the point that I fear he might fall over, so that he’s speaking directly into my phone speaker as I record our impromptu interview. “I was working for the man, you know, like at a cubicle. Just falling asleep, wondering what I was doing with my life. And then Dreamers called me.”
The drummer for the alt-rock group Dreamers might not have been too keen to participate in an interview, but it’s worth saying that the group’s set at Spring Out was definitely a highlight. Alt-radio tracks that contributed to the recent success of the group, like “Sweet Disaster” and “Wolves (You Got Me)” are less pop; when they perform live, the guitar is grittier and the drums are less electronically driven. Lead singer Nick Wold works the crowd effortlessly, eventually stage diving into the arms of fans who carry him as though they don’t want to let him go.
So what has it been like having success with the group’s radio singles?
“It’s been like being in a band… but also… your songs are being played on the radio,” Wick responds, staring off into the distance and accentuating his jawline, both for my photographer’s photos and the line of girls that has sprouted behind us.
So literally what I just said.
At one point during the next band’s set, my attention is drawn to a person running around the open field of the speedway; a towel is wrapped around his head and upper body as he sprints, eventually tumbling and rolling around on the ground. A tour manager comes from behind the stage, trying to pick up the unidentified, yet ridiculously inebriated person.
Jacob Lee Wick stands up, drops the towel, and disappears backstage as he stumbles to the artist tent.
Sameer Gadhia is standing just behind the doorway of Young the Giant’s RV, a bottle of lime juice in one hand and a small fifth of tequila in the other.
“Anybody… uh… anybody want some lime juice,” the lead singer of Young the Giant offers, a gesture of hospitality among the confines of their festival-issued camper. Politely, my photographer and I decline, but that doesn’t stop him from jokingly attempting to pour a stream of lime-flavored-mixer down my photographer’s throat. Hawaiian shirts and skinny jeans are hanging up near the driver’s seat, the chosen outfits for tonight’s set. Barely noticeable from behind the shroud of clothes, sitting sideways in the front passenger seat, bass player Payem Doostzadeh is on his phone, his legs dangling over the console as the interview proceeds.
“We had about 50 demos going into this album,” François Comtois, drummer, says as he explains the writing process of the group’s latest release, "Mirror Master."
“Everyone had their own projects that they were doing before the tour,” Eric Cannata, the guitarist, cuts in. “So we were all sending recordings of different ideas to each other.”
The product of these ideas and recordings would turn out to be the most lyrically vulnerable release in Young the Giant’s discography, a collection of songs that tend to focus more on grown-up emotion than the alt-anthem momentum of the group’s past.
On stage, vulnerability also seems to be a key part of their performance. Clad in the outfit that had been hanging from the driver’s seat hours earlier, Sameer stands at the front of the stage, eyes closed as he sings each word with feeling and a clear intent to connect into the crowd.
“I think ‘Oblivion’ is the song that really stands out on this album,” François said earlier.
Watching the band perform it live, I could immediately see why. Later in the show, hits like “Cough Syrup” and “Apartment” were standouts for the majority of the fans, who screamed and sang every single word. But it was “Oblivion” that really set the pace for the show, ensuring the crowd that even though it’s still Young the Giant performing, this time around they have a much deeper message to put out. The first song of the setlist, the lyrics reflective of the fear of the unknown, seemed to draw in the crowd as the band kicked off their performance.