Gang of Youths plays Chicago for the first time

Gang of Youths’ introduction to the Australian music scene came in 2015 with the release of their debut album The Positions and 2016’s EP Let Me Be Clear. Although they were the new kids on the block, their popularity spread like wildfire and they quickly became one of Australia’s best live acts. Gang of Youths played at Schubas Monday night, and I almost immediately shamed myself for not having heard their music before. Like someone seeing colors for the first time, I was transfixed by their effortless stage presence, connection to the crowd, and their well-defined sound.

Prior to Monday night I had been in a bit of a concert slump. With only one academic quarter between me and completing my master’s degree, I had been turning down opportunities to shoot shows in an attempt to keep my sanity, not fail at my other job, and occasionally get some sleep. When Monday night’s opportunity arose, I figured it was the perfect time to return to the things I love—music, photography, and shared human experiences.

In a venue much smaller than they’re used to playing, the band quickly established an inviting rapport with the crowd and tore through their setlist, creating a sound that far exceeded the size of the room. Frontman David Le’aupepe was enormously candid as he described the vulnerable state of mind he was in while writing the albums. Courageously putting his life on display, he urged fans to make the most of everything life brings you and to revel in the fear of the unknown. The setlist for the night was well-balanced between aggressive, upbeat songs, and the sweeping, more introspective ones. Le’aupepe’s rich, deep voice coupled with the rest of the band’s emotive compositions had those in the venue hanging on their every word and every note.

Gang of Youths is a bunch of cool dudes who are keepin it real, and we appreciate them for that. Their set was raw, honest, and completely captivating, and I’m certain it won’t be long before they’re playing bigger venues in the US. Their second album, Go Farther into Lightness, is set to release August 18th. Click here for more on the band and here to preorder the new album.

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