Provo band Neon Trees, winner of the 2009 City Weekly Music Awards, are on the road opening for 30 Seconds to Mars, and they put on a show Saturday that proved they won't be openers for long.---
In fact, there's no reason to think Neon Trees can't be as big or bigger than either Saturday's headliners or The Killers, the band that helped Neon Trees get their big break. The Provo quartet (playing with an extra guitarist Saturday) led by emotive lead singer Tyler Glenn works the same '80s-nicking brand of synth-fueled alt-rock as both those bands, and dance-able anthems always seem able to find an audience.
Saturday at The Rail Event Center, plenty of the couple thousand fans on hand were clearly there for Neon Trees, crowded up to the front of the stage for a good hour before the band took the stage (and unfortunately pummeled by a couple of high school "battle of the band" winners while they waited). When the lights went dark and Neon Trees took the stage, the roar from the crowd was pretty deafening.
Neon Trees made its way through most of Habits, the band's major-label debut that arrived in March. Guitarist Chris Allen and the rock-solid rhythm section of drummer Elaine Bradley and bassist Branden Campbell did the heavy lifting in creating Neon Trees propulsive songs; Glenn would occasionally wander by his center-stage keyboards and add some flourishes, but he spent much more time bouncing around the stage, interacting with the kids down front, chastising fans who didn't look like they were having a good time or pulling off some spastic dance moves that often had him in strange positions. Glenn spent more time on his knees during the Neon Trees set than a Poison groupie circa 1988.
He introduced the band's first single from Habits, "Animal," by asking the crowd to "Show me your paws!" But he did get serious for a moment in thanking the crowd for its support.
"We're a tiny little band from Provo, with a big chance," Glenn said.
It's a chance they seem to be making the most of so far. The energy Neon Trees puts out on stage should work well for them when they encounter audiences far beyond their hometown. Among the highlights in their performances Saturday: "Sins of My Youth," "Love and Affection" and the old-timey swing-laced "In the Next Room."