I’ll be honest: I had never heard of Gang of Youths before their Chicago show. I had seen photos from fellow photographers and thought “this band looks pretty charismatic, I’ll check them out”. I didn’t necessarily expect to be blown away by these guys, but I was. The Australian rockers sound like a cross between early era Arcade Fire and Foo Fighters, and they radiate the same exciting spark as both bands. Their Metro show wasn’t completely sold out, but the hundreds of concert-goers there filled the room with enough energy and noise to make you think otherwise. Some people had been waiting for hours outside to grab a spot at the barricade, and their patience paid off.
Gang of Youths came out and started their set with “Fear and Trembling”, an unassuming track that effortlessly builds to a rock crescendo. Lead singer and guitarist David Le’aupepe moved around the stage like a bolt of lightning, popping up on one side then immediately running to the other. In between “Fear and Trembling” and “What Can I Do if the Fire Goes Out?”, Le’aupepe stopped to wish the band’s keyboardist, Jung Kim, a happy birthday. Kim was not only celebrating his birthday that night, but he was doing so in his hometown. There’s nothing a Chicago crowd loves more than welcoming one of their own back home. For their third and most powerful song, “The Heart is a Muscle” Le’aupepe told the crowd that he started dedicated the song to his father, who passed away earlier this year. He went on to say his father was his hero, and the crowd watched in awe as he poured every emotion into the performance.
The band’s energy never let up, even during their slower tracks. I have no doubt that the next time Gang of Youths comes to Chicago, they will instantly sell out their show. The group’s chemistry is palpable, and it’s clear they genuinely love playing together. It’s not often that I go to a show and turn on the band’s music as soon as I get back home, but that’s just what I did after their show. Gang of Youths definitely made a fan out of me.