Article and Photos by Aidan Heilman
Youth Lagoon is the musical project of Idaho native Trevor Powers. After its genesis in 2010, Trevor released three full length albums under the Youth Lagoon moniker: The Year of Hibernation (2011), Wondrous Bughouse (2013), and Savage Hills Ballroom (2015). Following the Savage Hills Ballroom tour Trevor discontinued the project indefinitely. To the delighted surprise of many six years later, Powers announced in November of 2022 via Instagram that he was re-igniting Youth Lagoon with a fourth album titled Heaven Is A Junkyard. After seven months of gut-wrenching anticipation, the project was released on June 9th of 2023.
This brings us to September 14th, where I had the privilege of seeing Trevor as Youth Lagoon live at Lincoln Hall, accompanied by Logan Hyde on guitar and drums and Tchad Cousins (also the frontman of opening band Urika’s Bedroom) on guitar and bass. As Urika entered the stage and got situated with their instruments, a glitchy recording of a woman reciting spoken word poetry came over the speakers, immediately grabbing the audience’s attention. Between their distorted whisper-like vocals, enveloping bass and guitar, and intriguing sound bites between songs, their show was as unique as it was entrancing. Urika played their recently released first single Junkie to finish off.
The crowd thickened between sets. I looked around and saw children to my right and a middle aged couple to my left. There were hipsters, metalheads, folks who look like your suburban next door neighbor, and everything in between. Youth Lagoon’s ability to bring people together was striking. Tchad and Logan walked onstage followed by the man himself. He sat down at his piano sporting a jean jacket and sunglasses as applause erupted from all sides. The band opened with Rabbit, the first song off of “Heaven is a Junkyard”.
As the show went on, I was taken through a captivating and emotive journey. You could see the feeling in Trevor’s face as he sang his songs with eyes closed, his tattooed hand wrapped around the microphone. Despite the generally somber and slow nature of the music itself, there was not a dull moment. The band did a great job keeping things dynamic by sprinkling in slightly upbeat and percussion dense renditions of the original recordings.
To add to this, the band frequently switched instruments. When Logan was playing the guitar, Trevor triggered a drum machine via a pedal near his left foot. When Logan was on the acoustic drumset, Tchad played guitar and Trevor played a booming bass pad with his left hand, all the while continuing to play the keys with his right as he sang into the microphone. There were two points at which Trevor got up from his piano and stood front and center, once mid-setlist and again during the encore. Both times, the crowd (myself included) went wild.
It’s not often that I go to a show and feel that the music sounds just as good, if not better than the original recordings, but Youth Lagoon made that happen. Every instrument sang out clearly a particular color, and I found myself engulfed in a beautiful painting of sound. If you ever find yourself on the fence about buying tickets to a Youth Lagoon show, I wholeheartedly encourage you to send it and immerse yourself in that same painting.