A little after 12 hours after dropping a brand new album, 99 Neighbors took the stage at The Governors Ball in Queens, NY on September 24th. The seven-member alt-rap collective, hailing from Burlington, VT, put on a high-energy show for fans, some of whom were already singing along to the new tracks.
After a foundational burst of creativity and an equally fast rise, the band has learned the virtues of patience, agreeing that the best things in life take time and focus. Their bedrock is still back there in the 24-hour art hub of an apartment where it all began, and their singular sound is still the hyperactive crush of rock, pop, R&B, and hip-hop heard on their gripping 2019 project, Television. But their new album Wherever You’re Going I Hope It’s Great grew out of a period of willful slowdown – a clarifying of perspective – and is built around the idea of moving forward with intention. The LP is rich with new sonic strains from dusty jazz to UK-inspired electronica to thrilling pop. The collective’s members also had time for both experience and reflection, resulting in lyrics that delve deep into identity, addiction, discovery, and meaning. The end result sounds adventurous and expansive yet decisive and complete – a considerable feat from several wild minds constantly bouncing off one another.
Following their performance, we were able to sit down to discuss the evolution of this band of longtime friends – how they found their standout sound amongst all of the “Phish cover bands” of Burlington and how their production style has changed over the years. As they explain, they went from “kids making a mixtape” to now having a “label album,” which was amplified by the surreal experience of performing in front of a hyped-up audience to open up a weekend of excitement. You can catch their interview below.
A genuine joy permeates in their new music, even when the songs touch on heavy themes. It’s the sound of seven friends living out their dreams, struggles, and triumphs together. It took a while to get there, but when 99 Neighbors finally did, the concept of the project became rather simple. As rapper/singer HANKNATIVE puts it, “We all just want the best for each other.” The love and support the band members have for each other is palpable, and if you haven’t listened to them before, now is the time!