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Live Review: Gang of Youths w/ Day Wave @ The Tivoli

© Tom Sue Yek

The hype was real, the crowd was keen, Gang of Youths were making another return to Brisbane, selling out the Tivoli two months prior to the gig, though whether it was Dave Le’aupepe’s dance moves, the emotion packed performance, or just some beautiful, beautiful music it was certainly clear, Gang of Youths may have made 2016 peak in April.

Sunny lads Day Wave smashed a tight support slot to the complete personification of ‘California’. The summer electric guitar just screams beach, fun and an extreme sun burn. With bright sunny disposition transposed beautifully into catchy pop hooks and lax punk vocals, Day Wave inject such a beautiful jive into our hips that have the now full room dancing with their booty.

Phillips’ vocals is reminiscent of Christofer Ingle of Never Shout Never or Ryan Key of Yellowcard, or pretty much any of the pop punk bands during period during 2008 where all they forgot the ‘punk’ part of their genre and decided to reach a wider audience; one main difference with Day Wave, is that it works. They are fun, they are jam out worthy, they are a gosh darn good time. A perfect mid-afternoon festival dance session, so Splendour anybody?


A slight reverb sounded, and the crowd knew. The youths had formed, the gang was here. It was at this point where ears were destroyed, voices gave way and the entire Tivoli shook as Gang of Youths were cheered onto stage.

Freshly penned tracks made a feature of their set, opening their set with a tune that has only been played three times before and doesn’t even have a name yet. If the plan was to create some hype about some new work well then they certainly knocked that out of the park. One tune in particular that needs to be released, like right now, is The Deepest of Ties, The Frankest of Shadows (well at least that’s what this writer’s tinnitus filled ears thought they heard). A tight crescendo and a power climax showed a progression and a maturity from these guys, but still kept room for those crazy dance moves you need to let out of your body.

“I honestly have never danced so much to songs about cancer, but I think that’s the point.”

“Now I’m just going to sing this song about cancer,” Le’aupepe chimes before jamming into their whole fricken debut album. I honestly have never danced so much to songs about cancer, but I think that’s the point. 2015 saw one the biggest oxymorons land on our airwaves as Magnolia scored its place on triple j’s Hottest 100 list, settling deservedly at #21. The song features bright synth work, some dance worthy guitar solos and is certainly the poppiest track on their debut record. Yet breaking down past the barriers of that hip moving rhythm, you realise you’re singing lines like “if my body’s alive, then my soul’s unaware” and that you’ve been shaking that booty to the story of frontman Le’aupepe’s suicide attempt.


Though as he posted on his Facebook a few days before the Tivoli gig “there is no single feeling so awful that it cant be momentarily overpowered by dancing” and that mantra cannot be more evident in their live performance. David motherfucking Le’aupepe stands out as one of the best live performers on the scene at the moment. The connection this one man has to his voice, his music, his body (dem’ dance moves) and his audience makes his live performance stand out above most others. Making eye contact with probably everyone in the room, the conversation he creates with his audience whips up this tangible electricity that powers more than just a live performance, but generates this lust for life, love and music.

But that still doesn’t mean Le’aupepe can’t strip things back and make all the tears in our body. The dance numbers fade for a moment in this intimate piano spotlight, as Kansas and Knuckles White Dry take over our bodies for a moment. With wet eyes and a croak in his voice, Le’aupepe still lets his falsetto fly. The most vulnerable of moments between a performer and a crowd is when there are no glitz and glamour to hide behind, but there is no reason to play hide and seek with this man’s talent. There was no falter, no blemish, no hesitation.


Turning the mood around with a drop of a hat, Gang of Youths blasted one of their many dance tracks that soon lead into a three song encore. They weren’t getting away that easily. Ending the night with the slow crescendo that is Vitals Signs couldn’t have left a crowd so emotionally drained. A track that kicks you in the stomach, waits for you to get back up only to kick you in the heart and then have a gleaming grin at its conclusion. Gang of Youths delivered every expectation you had, every dance move you wanted to bust out, every emotion you have in you, every tear you let fall from your face because you’re a sensitive new aged guy and crying isn’t a sign of weakness and you can still retain your masculinity so you can all stop looking at me. Emotional. Powerful. Electric. Incredible. If there is any artist you need to see live, do your soul a favour and see Gang of Youths.

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Photos by Tom Sue Yek