words: India Marx
photos: Emma D’Anna
When Gang of Youths announced their Brisbane mini-festival ‘A More Perfect Union’, they were met with something that well and truly surpassed excitement. After announcing support acts Publique, Charlie Collins, Thelma Plum, Luca Brasi AND Jack River, Brisbanites were fast to jump on tickets as soon as they were released.
The show itself was nothing short of surreal, a goosebump-provoking performance. Gracing the grassy knoll of Brisbane’s Riverstage, Gang of Youths came on strong opening with Fear and Trembling.
Front man David Le’aupepe was quick to acknowledge the audience as he said, “We are so grateful.”
Gang of Youths are modern day rock stars, built on a solid foundation of lessons-learnt-anthems accompanied by thunderous guitar riffs.
They bring with them a stage presence destined for stadium sized audiences across the world.
Le’aupepe is unapologetically himself. His dancing; enthralling, his singing a unique composition as his vocal range encapsulates a moody, sensual tone as he sings contrasting words which scream a deep understanding life and it all it beholds.
Your soul catches on fire listening to his voice tell an array of tales via the power of music.
“We will make this a more regular thing I promise!” Le’aupepe assured through the microphone. A promise this audience will not be forgetting any time soon.
Songs Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane and Go Farther in Lightness had every listener simply enraptured in the moment, the crowd swaying together in a peaceful harmony.
Popular song The Heart Is A Muscle was preluded by a heartfelt, deeply personal dedication from Le’aupepe.
“I dedicate this song to my dad. He died a few months ago but he was the singularly most extraordinary, influential person in my life. This song is about a great muscle.”
Each lyric of the song dripped sincerity and brought a new life to an already emotive track.
The band powered through their set, every song greeted with a roar of approval from the audience who constantly pushed forward to be as close to the front (and Le’aupepe’s enthralling dancing) as possible.
It wasn’t long before the quintet launched into fan favourite Let Me Down Easy. The moment the guitar kicked in, the audience began to move, knowing very well what track was next on the group’s set list.
As the song came to its end an audience member in the distance was heard saying, “if they play Magnolia next, I’ll cry!” Sure enough, the drums kicked in and the bass of Magnolia barraged its way through the crowd.
Wrapping up their set with The Deepest Sighs, The Frankest Shadows, Gang Of Youths performance can only be described as monumentally awesome.
Gang of Youths’ music is written with purpose. Never is a song written for the sake of simply writing a song. It is authentic, it is raw and their performance on stage only drove this further in lightness.
Gang of Youths are rock stars with a cause, donating part of every their festival ticket sold to the Aboriginal Legal Service which works to provide legal services and increase justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.
As the group left the stage, the applause and calls for an encore were enough to coax them back for several more songs including the Be Still Unbeaten Life, Vital Signs and of course, in a final salute to their music’s fundamental messaging, Say Yes to Life.
Overall Gang of Youths Riverstage performance was an epic performance and a strong testament to Australian grown talent.
See the full gallery here.