New Politics at The Observatory

For years known as the Galaxy Theatre, Santa Ana’s Observatory concert hall may conjure images of celestial beings and night skies. Which is why it was the perfect place for New Politics singer David Boyd to implore fans to illuminate the dark room with their cell phones, telling them to “shine like the stars you are tonight.”

There was no mistaking who the evening’s real stars were, however, as New Politics played a tight and relentless 75-minute set for a thousand or so of their closest friends. Last week’s Orange County engagement was just one stop in a whirlwind four-day span that included three Southern California concerts, a special live webcast performance for KROQ-FM, and a last-minute nationally televised appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Rather than wilt under the demanding schedule — thrust upon the band toward the end of an already-exhausting tour, its first ever as headliner —  New Politics seemed to embrace the challenge, holding nothing back from tireless fans whose enthusiasm could be matched only by the guys on stage who elicited it in the first place.

Boyd is among the most spirited entertainers in modern music, the result of years spent as a street performer in his native Denmark. New Politics has had several hit songs in its relatively brief life as a band, but make no mistake: this group is all about the live show, which it proved at the Observatory. Before the band had even played a single note, Boyd had already backflipped his way onto the stage, a feat he would repeat throughout the evening (including once off a piano set up at the back of the stage). Later, charismatic guitarist Soren Hansen and drummer Louis Vecchio played an instrumental song, providing the backbeat for Boyd to breakdance for the crowd.

Having spent the past couple of years on the road, opening for everyone from Fall Out Boy to P!nk, New Politics knows the value of a pop song, dipping its toes into the catalogues of Justin Timberlake, Rihanna and Britney Spears for brief covers during the show. But the band showed no less confidence in their own material, which Boyd performed while making eye contact with fans throughout the building. At one point the singer took his fans’ worship to a symbolic level, crowdsurfing into the center of the pit before standing upright and then walking atop his sea of followers, performing an entire song while fans held him steadily overhead.

Boyd did his best work on the stage, however, bounding from one end to the other as the band pushed its way through a set list culled mostly from its newest album, last year’s “A Bad Girl in Harlem.” Aided by the Observatory’s excellent sound system, New Politics played a consistently energetic set, even when slowing things down with songs like the piano-based “Stuck On You.”

But the crowd came for the high-tempo songs they’ve come to know and love, and New Politics did not disappoint. Closing its regular set with its hugely infectious single, “Harlem,” the band capped its encore 10 minutes later with “Yeah Yeah Yeah,” which it played as confetti showered eager fans who did not appear ready for the show to end.

New Politics will be back in Orange County six months from now, opening for Paramore and Fall Out Boy on their summer Momentour. Its grueling tour schedule, then, continues. And the band wouldn’t have it any other way.