Los Angeles – Brooding Australian indie quintet Gang of Youths made their second appearance ever in the City of Angels at the Echo. The Soft White Sixties and Livingmore opened the night. Gang of Youths took stage at 10:40pm. Their electrifying twelve-song set was led by the charismatic frontman David Le’aupepe. He connected with the fans, mostly mid to late 20-something year-olds, with personal stories, anecdotes, and political/social verbosity. The band, who released their strong debut LP The Positions in 2015, previewed several new tracks from their upcoming sophomore release, Go Farther In Lightness.
Their first album featured ten distressing songs chronicling Le’aupepe’s tempestuous relationship with a girlfriend battling cancer. He talked about the ordeal and played an acoustic version of “Knuckles White Dry,” noting that his ex, who he hadn’t spoken to in two years, passed on three and a half months ago. Everyone could sense the deep vulnerability that was on display. However, once the melancholy of the moment passed, the band went on to put on one hell of a performance.
Gang of Youths wasted no time getting started with their boisterous new single, “What Can I Do If The Fire Goes Out?” making it very clear they were pumped to be in Los Angeles again. “Restraint & Release” came next. Most of the audience seemed to recognize the track. Soon after, Le’aupepe threw in his own two cents about poverty and the sick before introducing his new song, “Atlas Drowned” (a play off of Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, who he noted was a bad writer). The explosive track offered grungy guitars, throbbing drums, and a display of fortitude by the confident Le’aupepe. There was a sense of political commentary in Le’aupepe’s vocals and lyrics. I could see the audience was just fine with Le’aupepe’s ongoing critique of life and the meaning of things.
The band rocked out furiously on “Poison Drum” one of their earlier tunes. The crowd was into it, swaying their bodies, raising their arms, and shaking their heads. “Keep Me In The Open,” a brand new unreleased track was a dreamy affair with uplifting guitars and heavy on the bass reverb. From what I observed, Gang of Youths have their minds set on bigger anthem type songs these days. And can you blame them? They have the poise, the confidence, and the tight musicianship to expand beyond their current indie state.
When the band performed “Radioface” Le’aupepe jumped off stage and got right up into the faces of some of the audience members, myself included! He grabbed onto to people by their heads or bodies and pulled them close as if he was just singing to them individually. It was his way of connecting with his fans and it worked, as the crowd became the most excited they had been all night. However, on “Magnolia,” Le’auepepe was playful, dancing, and making these humorous little facial expressions. For such a serious band with serious themes, it’s great that they can take a moment to be silly. The night finished with “Vital Signs.” They rocked out this seven and a half minute jam as if this was the last song they would ever play.
Overall, the entire set was epic. Gang of Youths is clearly destined for a lot more recognition. I really hope this tour marks the start of something special for them. Their pure talent and raw conviction are beyond comparison.
Gang of Youths just ended their US tour. Their Australian tour begins August 26th. For more information on their upcoming album and tour dates, head to their Facebook page.
Photos by Sean Kayden
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