Live Review: Gang of Youths + Zefereli + I Know Leopard - Adelaide UniBar (04.09.15)

Gang of Youths, and their debut record The Positions, have been embraced by critics and fans alike over the past year. Back in South Australia, they brought their energetic live show to a sold-out crowd at Adelaide UniBar on Friday night.

First to take the stage in support was Zefereli, the solo project of Alistar Richardson from Brisbane’s The Cairos. Richardson and the touring band faced the difficult task of making the audience feel comfortable enough to slowly edge closer to the stage, but their energy eventually won people over. Mostly performing songs from the Withdrawals EP, every song was infectious; single “Once In A While” particularly likely to stay in people’s heads days after the fact.

Somewhat surprising was a cover of Eminem and Dido’s seminal track “Stan”, but the group managed to make it their own. Other highlights included “So Dumb” - a coastal-sounding, relaxed tune juxtaposing vulnerable lyrics - and “54321”, a track Richardson recorded and performed with Brisbane’s Clea Pratt. The sunny, sometimes spacey feel of the set was undeniably likeable, and it’s easy to imagine future Zefereli works doing well.

Next up were Sydney five-piece I Know Leopard, who make songs that feel equally reminiscent of the ‘70s as they do Bloom-era Beach House. Equipped with a violin, the band really excel in those sweeping dream-pop moments; frontman Luke O’Loughlin bursting with energy and inducing the audience to dance.

Set highlights included “Perfect Picture” and “Hold This Tight”, as well as the insanely catchy “Close My Eyes” from forthcoming EP Another Life. The group’s rendition of TLC’s “Waterfalls” - performed for Like A Version earlier this year - provided for another fun moment, and was a great addition to the set.

Anticipation had reached boiling point by the time Gang of Youths made their appearance. Immediately, lead singer Dave Le’aupepe commanded the stage; his ability to work the crowd making it difficult for one to tear their eyes away. In fact, the whole band runs a tight ship - members Jung Kim, Joji Malani and Max Dunn seamlessly bringing the emotional complexity of The Positions to life.

While the setlist left no room for a dull moment, singles “Magnolia”, “Radioface” and “Poison Drum” elicited the best response from the audience. Though Gang of Youth’s songs are nuanced and often long, they’re always satisfying and irresistible when it comes to singing along.

Mid-set the mood shifted to a more solemn one, with Le’aupepe explaining the backstory of some of the band’s darkest songs to date. It was endearing to see the other members listening closely - this was particularly true for Dunn; who had closed his eyes and began singing along to the performance that followed.

By the end of the show Le’aupepe continued to dance, interact with the audience and, much to the thrill of those in attendance, crowd surf. At one point he even poked fun at how encores have become standard practice for bands in 2015… and then proceeded to perform one. And it’s this down-to-earth attitude - paired with incredible talent - that characterises the band. Willing to be exposed, but never so self-important that audiences don’t have a good time; one gets the sense that Gang of Youths will only continue to soar.

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Follow through to keep up with Gang of Youths, Zefereli and I Know Leopard.

Photo credit: Chad Lofts. View the full gallery from the night here.