Young Prisms and The Radio Dept at Music Hall of Williamsburg


I found out about Young Prisms after seeing that they were on tour with The Radio Dept, and figured that the opening band for one of my favorite bands has to be worth checking out. Young Prisms are from San Francisco, CA, and they sound like a shoegaze version of Sonic Youth. Alright, I’m there.

Music Hall of Williamsburg isn’t my all time favorite venue, as the sound can sometimes be a bit hit or miss, and while it’s big with more than multiple bars on different levels it can feel cold and seem to lack character. However, it is a relatively new venue with state of the art equipment so when the sound is good, it’s really good. This time, my immediate complaint was the blinding lights. It was a good thing we were about to listen to a shoegaze band, because it was painful to look up at the stage.


When Young Prisms took the stage, the lighting went into strobe light mode, I really wished the lighting guy would calm down with that, which he eventually did as their set progressed. When I could see the band, my first thought was that they looked so California. My second was that thrift stores in San Fran must be a thrifter’s dream. That Waikiki tourist sweatshirt the bass player was wearing was so cheesy neon it was great. The singer had on an oversized jean jacket with “girls” on the back. Shout out to their fellow San Franciscan band, perchance?

Their live show really did more justice to their sound than just hearing the recordings. The drummer was bobbing in the back while slamming sticks on chipped cymbals. The guitarist was so deeply involved in his riffs I don’t think I ever saw his face. The singer danced and cooed her distorted lyrics into the mic, and the bass player maximized his space for movement. They aren’t doing anything groundbreaking here, but they play the kind of music that seeps in slowly, and they are a good band to shake your long hair to. No need to push your bangs out of your face – just listen and sway. Also better to play it safe with the occasional rogue strobe light still on the loose.


After Young Prisms made their exit, The Radio Dept took a while to go on. I remembered how their set at The Bowery Ballroom was delayed and I hoped their set wouldn’t be as short this time. I got what I hoped for. They came on stage and got right to it, in their friendly yet stoic manner. After the first song, the crowd started yelling out song requests. They must have yelled the names of half of The Radio Dept’s repertoire. Johan told us they couldn’t play “Strange Things Will Happen,” but they did play “The Worst Taste in Music,” and that was fine with us. They had everyone bobbing and swaying to their dream pop tunes. They made the setlist more varied this time, too. “We’re going to play an old song. It’s called ‘Ewan.’” That’s what I like to hear. Everyone seemed to like “Heaven’s on Fire.” That got people moving the most. Must be something in the bass line.


The last song, they left the stage one by one. Johan first, then Martin, then Daniel heading off while the music was still going. After the guys were offstage, the music slowly faded out by itself, like on an album. Very well executed exit, I’d say. The crowd kept clapping and screaming for more, but there was no encore. Some fans were visibly and vocally upset about this, but from the mob at the merch table, they must not have been too mad – their side of the merch table was swarmed, while the merch guy for Young Prisms looked like he needed a magazine to read.

Ironically, if displeased fans had just exited when The Radio Dept did, they could have met them in person right outside. I headed out the nearest exit, still scribbling, and when I looked up, there they were. So I figured I would ask, why no encore? I was informed that they try to avoid certain band clichés, and an encore was one of them. They told me that they’re just a group of guys playing music, and when they’re done playing they don’t feel the need to make fans wait for them to come back for just a few more. I know I’ve been to shows where it seemed like the band made the crowd wait so long to the point of annoyance. After hearing this from The Radio Dept guys, I think their decision to no play the encore game is respectable. They gave us a good helping of their live performance, so let’s not be too greedy and ruin the experience for ourselves.

Young Prisms and The Radio Dept are continuing their tour together west until they play their last show in Los Angeles. After that Young Prisms go on to the UK and The Radio Dept will make a stop in Mexico before heading to Europe