Gang of Youths were welcomed home like heroes at the Enmore Theatre on Saturday. Given that just over over a year ago GOY couldn’t pack a gig at the then-GoodGod Small Club (as admitted by frontman Dave Le’aupepe during the set), their sold out hometown show was one to remember.
Before the quartet graced the stage, fellow Sydney locals SpookyLand gave early birds the proverbial worm of 70’s style punk rock laced with whiney vocals and killer guitar riffs. Next up, California’s Day Wave delivered some mellow indie rock with tracks like We Try But We Don’t Fit In and Total Zombie making for some chill background noise as punters filed in.
By the time the supports wrapped up, the Enmore was packed and the excitement was palpable. As the lights dimmed and roars of welcome rattled the theatre, the boys bounded on the stage; lead guitarist Joji Malani brandishing a flag. When Dave’s silhouette loomed from the shadows, the roars only grew louder. Opening with Restraint & Release, the crowd was instantly hypnotised by the undeniably charismatic frontman. Not to mention, the thumping drum beats, heavy bass lines and walls of hooky guitar riffs meant that resisting the urge to dance wasn’t an option for most.
As they slammed out Poison Drum, Dave sauntered across the stage, tossing his curly mane and gyrating his hips like an indie-rock Elvis. When the boys dusted off 2014 track Benevolence Riots, girls were being thrown onto shoulders and hands were shooting up in the air to create a unanimous percussion of claps.
After this slew of fiery bangers, GOY diverted the mood with a stunning rendition of Kansas. Sitting at the keyboard and bathed in magenta light, the frontman’s vocal ability was put on display as it soared over the keyboard melody and reverberated off the theatre walls. He wasn’t alone though, with the swelling vocals of the crowd soon taking over. By the end, the crowd’s applause meant that Dave’s drowned-out thank you’s were said in vain.
“You motherfuckers made me cry!”, he said, looking out into the crowd with an expression of utter disbelief. In a moment of brief silence, a girl from the crowd yelled out “I love you, Dave!”.
“I’m sorry. I can’t hear anything with these in!”, he said pulling at this ear plugs. “But I assume you said ‘Dave, your hair looks great!’. Wow! Thanks!”
Still at the keyboard, Dave explained “This song is about the car ride to the hospital” before launching into the heartbreakingly beautiful Knuckles White Dry. Once again, the vocalist’s bare baritone is backed by the chorus of the crowd.
“Hearing that many people sing that song and clapping is fucking indescribable,” he says with modest pride.
As well as a series of bangers from their acclaimed album The Position, GOY also treated the crowd to a sneak peek of their forthcoming record with two brand new songs. Following the same catchy vein traditional to their unique sound, fans are already singing along by the time the final choruses kicked in.
After announcing what we know won’t really be the last song, Dave took a moment to express his gratitude once again. “In March last year, we weren’t even able to fill out GoodGod Small Club,” he laughed. “This is not because of us,” he said looking around at the sold out theatre. “It’s because of you. You gave a shit…I’m holding back tears, here.”
As the familiar intro of Magnolia blossomed, the crowd went crazy and the set reached its peak.
“Quit honking your horns. There’s five other lanes and I am king of them all,” Dave crooned, though again he was almost drowned out by the unified voice of the crowd. This is Gang of Youths in its finest form. Dave shows off some of his best Michael Hutchence-style dance moves, before jumping up onto a speaker and singing to the crowd upon high. Meanwhile Joji and bassist Max Dunn swing their instruments around and Dom Borszestowski beats his drums with unbelievable ferocity.
After the boys walk off stage, the venue is soon shaking with the stamps of feet and choruses of “one more song!”. Of course GOY are more than happy to oblige. “We only had time for one more song. So we’re going to give you three,” Dave says with a wry grin as they return to the stage. Finishing off the gig with Evangelists, Radioface and Dave crowdsurfing through Vital Signs, fans definitely could’ve gone for more than three songs if given the chance.
From day one watching these guys play to 50 people at Hibernian House in Sydney, I was convinced moments like last night were not going to be far away. Huge achievement for you boys. You deserved this @david.motherfucking.leaupepe @via.chicago @mrmaxdunn @tamachochi @boughtajetski thank you to the people who have also supported and believed in the GOYs along the way and the incredible crew on this tour. #gangofyouths
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