Photos by Josh Groom
It wasn’t too long ago that Gang of Youths were rehearsing in a small quaint inner west garage to prepare for a show at GoodGod Small Club that was struggling to sell tickets. Looking back at their beginnings, they have never been ones to shy away from their personal struggles in the lead up to their 2015 debut album The Positions.
This time round, they returned to their hometown’s Enmore Theatre to play a sold out show that swept us off our feet, filling all eyes with tears of pride. For all they have achieved on their home turf, there is no doubt that they’re Sydney’s next greatest musical export, and now armed with an album, they’re ready to take on the world.
Racking up 5 ARIA nominations, including Best Rock Album, Best Australian Live Act and Breakthrough Artist, the tracks off The Positions are made for that all encompassing live experience.
Not a song passed on Saturday night where there wasn’t an uproar as it began.
Not a track worthy of skipping when on shuffle.
Not a filler. Not a lapse.
‘Restraint and Release’ set the room alight, throwing people up on shoulders just moments into their set. The rowdiness continued as I became collateral damage to someone’s flying beer can. Amongst all the high-energy riffy guitars and some snippets into new GOY material, ‘Kansas’ deadened the room to silence, capturing this otherwise wild crowd with Dave Le’aupepe’s soulful vocals and delicate piano playing.
This soothing section embraced the calmer components from the album, yet booming signature material was never far off as the night built up to DAVE LE’AUPEPE RUNNING THROUGH THE MOSH A MERE ONE METRE FROM ME.
When the crowd begged for more the boys obliged, rounding out the night with Le’aupepe on top of the mosh, crowd surfing in complete rock and roll heroic glory.
Being the front man and spokesperson for a band is no easy task, yet Le’aupepe makes it look like child’s play. The man is ridiculously gifted and adored by his fans who welcomed him with a wall shaking applause.
Honourable mention: his incredible hip shaking dance moves, that were barely contained by his guitar, made ‘Magnolia’ even better.
Cheeky banter aside, Dave exudes this admirable availability to everyone, sharing “You motherfuckers made me cry” before launching into a crowd backed rendition of ‘Knuckles White Dry’. Beyond any kind of amazing musical presence they have, their complete transparency and bold truthfulness, professing that “this is not because of us, it’s because of you. You gave a shit”. Closing out the main set with 2015 anthem ‘Magnolia’ the entire theatre was reminded of the emotionally transparent and unapologetically heartbreaking lead single that made us fall in love with the Sydney siders.
If there was any lesson learnt from Gang of Youths show and continuing domination of the Australian live music scene, it is that there is no kind of venture in life wasted when done in complete certainty and unapologetic confidence.
Now off to conquer the world on a string of tour dates abroad, Saturday night was the greatest welcome home and bittersweet farewell for now all wrapped in one sweaty, dance mess.
Go conquer boys, Sydney will always be here to welcome you home.