Sincerity in music is a gamble. It often can either go unnoticed or more likely be unappreciated and misunderstood. But when done successfully, sincerity results in some of the most beautiful music. Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run is a testament to what can result in poetic songwriting and a lack of caring about what others may say.
Australia’s Gang of Youths embodies what it means to walk to line between cliché and empowering anthemic rock. Wednesday evening, Gang of Youths took the stage at the A and R Music Bar in Columbus and to their own surprise was greeted by a packed house. Lead singer and songwriter Dave Le’aupepe admitted that the band expected “a quarter of the people here would show up tonight.”
Gang of Youths’ U.S. career has been much like their music, a slow building crescendo, that will no doubt result in them touring arenas in every state. But for now they are still playing gigs at bars and the crowd at the A and R knew that they were lucky to be seeing a band bring everything that made arena rock great to a small room.
It felt like you seeing a band with the potential of U2 or Pearl Jam in their early days. But when compared to arena rock bands it shouldn’t be construed with the clichés and fopauxs that so many arena rock bands come along with. Gang of Youths will make arena rock cool again.
For those who have never heard of them or their music Gang of Youths 2017 album Go Farther in Lightness, showed Dave Le’aupepe’s ability to write poetic music with passion that you just don’t see anymore.
Kicking off with the opener to their latest album Fear and Trembling, a song that compares to something like Thunder Road or Fake Empire a slow building song with piano and vocals and becomes this epic anthem.
Often compared to The National and Matt Berninger’s songwriting there are some comparisons that can be drawn, but personally if you listen to the two bands there is a clear difference between their songwriting. Le’aupepe’s lyrics are almost written as a way of inspiring its listeners, with songs like Say Yes to Life and The Heart is a Muscle he seeks to find clarity in his own life while clearly inspiring fans.
There wasn’t a song that the crowd didn’t sing along to, and it was one of the more diverse age groups a band could drawn. There were fans in their 50’s wearing classic rock tees along with plenty of fans with X’s on their hands signifying that they weren’t even 21.
Appealing to all fan’s in the crowd Le’aupepe did a cover of Bloodbuzz Ohio by Cincinnati’s the National, who he admitted had a big influence on the band. As the show went on Gang of Youths made a connection with the crowd that few bands still do today. Through their passion and energy on stage they were able to keep every fan engaged and there was an air that the crowd had that you would normally get at a much bigger show.
Gang of Youths closed their set on the song that their tour is named after Say Yes to Life, a mantra that Le’aupepe carried onto stage and one that resonated with the crowd as well. Inspired through his readings of philosophers like Niche, Le’aupepe seems to have created a sound that can clear the fog of negativity and doubt that seems to loom over much of us today.
Leaving the show, I can personally say there are few bands that leave you feeling the way Gang of Youths did for me, it was almost a euphoric state, an adrenaline shot of joy. If Gang of Youths is in or around Cincinnati again make sure you buy a ticket, there is something special about seeing them up close and personal.