As Ithaca, N.Y., rockers X Ambassadors took the stage at the outdoor stage at Lady Bird Lake (aka Auditorium Shores) Thursday night, lead vocalist Sam Harris couldn’t be happier.
Back in town for the band’s eighth Austin performance, he told the South by Southwest crowd, “I’m starting to feel like an Austin local.”
Made up of brothers Sam Harris and keyboardist Casey Harris, and drummer Adam Levin, the band has been playing shows in Austin since they first started in 2009. With a likeness akin to Imagine Dragons — who helped propel the band’s career — the X Ambassadors have released two LPs, "Litost" and "VHS." Since they announced the coming of their third album "Joyful" at the start of 2018, fans have eagerly been waiting for the drop.
The band performed singles “Ahead of Myself,” “Joyful,” and the recently released “Boom” from the forthcoming album. They even gave the crowd a taste of a never-before-played song, an upbeat and bluesy bop called “Wild Child.”
“Hey child, we were born wild. Let your neon lights keep shining bright.”
Other songs on the setlist included radio hits “Jungle,” their heavy metal rock piece, for which they welcomed British singer-songwriter Jamie N. Commons on stage, and fan favorite “Unsteady.”
Though their setlist might have you second-guessing what exactly the band’s genre is, the indie rockers-meet-electronic-group-meet-alternative-trio had the crowd clapping along to every song (truly, never has there been a group more set on bringing their hands together). Armed with an impressive falsetto, frontman Sam Harris’ energy never dwindled as he bounced around the stage, as if channeling the energy of the iconic Iggy Pop whose face adorned his shirt.
Feeling at home, Sam Harris reflected on the band’s time when they were just starting out. He encouraged the crowd to go out and fall in love with new artists so that they might get the same chance to succeed. “That’s what South By is all about,” he said.
The ever-woke trio closed out the night with “Renegades.” Sam Harris delivered an impassioned intro to the song about unifying as people. “This last song is about celebrating every single person here in this city, country, world,” he said. “No matter what you look like, where you come from, or what you believe in — be proud.”
RELATED: X Ambassadors become ACL 2018's unlikely conscience
The X Ambassadors play Buford's Backyard Beer Garden, 700 W. Sixth St., 7 p.m. Friday.