Live Review: Gang of Youths in Sydney

gang of youths

Sydney-based band Gang of Youths hit a triumphant Home Run on Tuesday evening. Adrian Pedić gives us the lowdown:

When Gang of Youths took the stage at Oxford Art Factory for the last show of the tour for their debut album, The Positions, there was a change. Their demeanour and stage presence was nothing but confident, with none of the weariness or exhaustion that could be expected – it was the high-energy, highly involved performance that you would expect.

However, before this, Death Bells took to the stage for support duties. Having released only a single and played two shows so far, it’s safe to say that they played like they had everything to prove – which they did. Their half-hour set was a strong showing from the young group – their sound retains a mass appeal, with the contrast between the watery-chorus and Big Muff distortion explosion on the guitars leaving plenty of room for the intense, yet very different, vocal stylings of the two singers. Combined with songs that are excellently written, the high quality of musicianship, and of course an excellent live act, Death Bells ensured that their name would not be far from the minds of the crowd last night. If the smoker’s area is a good barometer for hype, then I can confirm it was a resounding success.

Gang of Youth’s triumphant return to Sydney following their tour was met with understandably enthusiastic fans. With frontman Dave’s signature charm and stage presence, the band played through most of their debut release in absolutely fine form. The mid-set, solo rendition of “Knuckles White Dry” was easily the standout moment; for six minutes, 500 people were silent as Dave quietly plucked his guitar while singing through the lyrics as if he were re-living them. You could almost hear the shivers spreading through the audience. From that point on, the band finished off their set with some of the best of The Positions – closer “Magnolia” was a highlight, and as with “Knuckles White Dry” and the other deeply personal songs, Dave’s energy on stage and overwhelming involvement with the music were undeniably beautiful, and in general, a wonderful display of the therapeutic value of music that so many of us are familiar with. With a two-part encore, which ended with a blistering, almost chaotic rendition of “Vital Signs”, the band finally (and deservedly) ended their Australian tour on an unarguable high point.

Rather than letting any exhaustion or fatigue colour their set, Gang of Youths demonstrated why they are so deserving of the accolades they are receiving this year; their passion is overt and informs their music and live act. Death Bells also rounded out a night that was an exemplar demonstration of Sydney’s local music scene from two bands that we will surely continuing hearing about for some time yet.



Review by Adrian Pedić