Gang Of Youths @ The Tivoli - 08/04/16
On Friday night, Sydney rock band Gang Of Youths emphatically kicked off their fully sold out tour at Brisbane’s intimate The Tivoli, supported by Spookyland and Day Wave.
Sydney based indie rockers Spookyland opened the evening dead on time at 8pm. Performing under the glow of red, murky lights the four piece outfit struggled to gain the attention of the audience, despite their energetic antics and faithful recreation of their songs including Big Head, Rock and Roll Weakling and God’s Eyes. Their sound could be described as a cross between Bob Dylan and Neil Young. Perhaps the audience was fairly motionless because they were concentrating on the lyrics. Lead singer Marcus Gordon commented mid-way through the set, “It’s like visiting the dentist. It’ll all be over soon,” as if he was gauging the level of disinterest amongst those who were present. Unfortunately their set felt out of place in comparison to the other two bands. Possibly in a different setting this band might have been more appreciated. It should be noted however, that as the set progressed the audience (including one of the guards) did gather a bit more momentum gently nodding their heads intermittently, in a reserved fashion as though saving their energy for later.
Next up, playing live in Australia for the very first time, were Californian band Day Wave. Led by Jackson Phillips, the all male group delivered several upbeat tracks including Come Home Now, Total Zombie and We Try but We Don’t Fit In. Standing under magenta and blue lights, they performed for a larger, livelier crowd. Most of their catchy songs were easy to sing along to, however the three singers struggled to hit some of their high notes. The group sang in unison and because of this, they lacked harmonic variety. Nonetheless, overall their set was pleasant to listen to.
By the time Day Wave had concluded their strong set, the venue was pushing its capacity as the crowd slowly edged their way closer and closer to barrier. After much anticipation and patience, the lights dimmed and the crowd roared with excitement. Gang Of Youths then took to the stage with strobes and roaming spotlights heavily featured in the first few songs, hyping the audience.
During Poison Drum, the crowd united and raised their hands, chanting ‘I’m not afraid,’ while lead singer David Le’aupepe swayed his hips and shook his mane of luscious hair. Throughout the set Le’aupepe’s voice, and the insistent drums, bass, synth and rhythm guitar carried the audience to greater heights. Le’aupepe was the crowd’s leader and they ‘worshipped’ him. Even between songs, Le’aupepe revealed how surreal it felt, knowing that the audience knew the lyrics and were singing along.
It was difficult to gain a proper appreciation for several songs unless you were directly at the barrier. Numerous rowdy patrons on the periphery of the lower level talked continuously throughout the set, which was quite disrespectful. This phenomenon was quite distracting, especially when Le’aupepe sat at the piano alone on the stage, performing two much quieter and reflective pieces, Kansas and Knuckles White Dry.
As the evening drew to a close, it was clear that Le’aupepe and the rest of the band had everyone eating out of the palm of their hands. Le’aupepe danced with such conviction especially during Magnolia and even jumped on the barrier to momentarily crowd surf. All those not on the balcony tried their very best to catch a glimpse of the action, with many standing on the back seating and a few jumping on friends’ shoulders.
Even though Gang Of Youths had finished the main set and walked off stage, everyone knew there was still more in the bag. A minute or so later, after the crowd consistently chanted ‘We want more!’ and ‘Gang Of Youths!’ the guys enthusiastically wandered back on stage for an encore but not before Le’aupepe praised the supporting acts, management and fans saying “Holy Shit. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!”
They dived into their encore of Radioface and Vital Signs and the crowd remained enthralled to the very end. After the band concluded their encore and said their final goodbyes, the excitement still lingered as the crowd drifted out from the venue in high spirits. Gang Of Youths had such an influence on this crowd – there’s no doubt the mountaintop experience will live in their memories for years to come.
This review was first published on 11 April 2016 for Amnplify.