Gang of Youths melt Sandstone Point into glassy eyed fervour

You will smile, sway, cry, then "fucking dance hard bitches."

Words by Dominic Buckland


The second show in this year’s Gang of Youths’ A More Perfect Union experience, held at Sandstone Point, played host to some incredible talent including Budjerah, Middle Kids as well as fresh grooves from Matt Corby, but the night truly belonged to one swashbuckling samoan.

Gang of Youths frontman Dave Le’aupepe stole the show (and our hearts), delivering a customarily tender then electric performance, bringing a relaxed evening hill up and into the night. Highly conversational intonations and raw storytelling combined for a mature and relatable performance, free of ego and full of life. Dancing between tear-jerking ballads and powerful rock, Le’aupepe led a moonlit crowd on a deeply emotional and dynamic journey that felt like more than your ordinary festival set.

All senses were engaged by a performance ranging in sound, style and stature. First-timers may be forgiven for assuming they’d come to see a group of extremely unique session musicians meet and improvise for 90 minutes, as it’s their diversity that brings such unique sonic strength. 

To the right, lead guitarist Jung Kim’s smooth riffing cut the shape of a tiny tuxedo in comparison to a giant front man possessed. To the left, violinist Tom Hobden’s sweeping strings laid the platform for iconic tracks like The Heart is a Muscle and Magnolia, while the entire group brought heavy energy for new fan favourites In the Wake of Your Leave and The Angel of 8th Avenue.

As if the palette wasn’t dynamic enough, supporting act Gretta Ray delivered an angelic take on The Deepest Sighs, the Frankest Shadows to give the dancing shoes a nice reprieve. Following an appreciative and banter-fuelled interlude, the Sydney locals leaned into a half hour of heavy tracks thick with stage presence and fierce energy that felt almost spiritual.

But the real kicker was yet to come as Le’aupepe stripped things back with a much-anticipated rendition of Brothers.

Despite being delivered by one man and his piano, this song hit the hardest. A deeply honest song, full of discovery, despair and a reconciliation of his fathers past mistakes. The tribute begged further enquiry and provided the perfect emotional pause before bringing the evening to a close with a bang.

Gang of Youths are the perfect combination of songwriting prowess, skilful musicality and theatrics. 

If you get the chance to see them in the flesh, grab the opportunity with both hands immediately. 

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