Musings: Caitlyn McMahon
Gus Dapperton received a raucous welcome upon taking to the stage for his debut Melbourne show in the Howler band room on Friday.
Hot off the heels of his first studio album ‘Where Polly People Go To Read’, released in April, the 22-year-old New York producer concluded his year of touring the critically acclaimed LP with sold out shows in Sydney and Melbourne.
The housekeeping intermission had the crowd palpable; his arrival cutting through the tension like a hot knife, to patient fans.
Perfectly on time, he bounded onto stage, out-grown pink hair bouncing with him, his delicate features grinning pierced ear to pierced ear. What followed was a little over an hour of fervent genre-blending and vocal-bending. The band’s synergy was nothing short of heart-warming and that youthful delight was reflected in the audience with friends and fans embracing and dancing hand in hand.
The keyboardist was running over to nuzzle the bassist or cut a rug with Gus when unneeded or Dapperton having the occasional head-to-head jam with his bassist.
It was a carnival of individualism. Vocal fidelity to studio recordings was thrown by the wayside in favour of an infinitely more engaging, textured and sporadic performance.
They opened with ‘Amadelle With Love’ of the 2018 EP ‘You Think You’re A Comic!’. The lofty, funky, slow jam was well received, along with the other track played from the debut EP ‘Prune, You Talk Funny’ and all the singles that preceded the album.
This was likely a symptom of greater comfort for both audience and performers in contrast to the greener tracks off the recent album. Two noteworthy highlights were the melting synths of ‘Ditch’ that had half the room lulling their heads back with their eyes shut, and the infectiously acapella driven ‘Gum, Toe and Sole’.
He closed on a one-two punch of lead singles from the LP; ‘Fill Me Up Anthem’ and the pleasantly RnB infused ‘My Favourite Fish’.
A somewhat mechanical encore routine followed, quickly forgotten once the drummer struck up the 16-beat lead-in for ‘World Class Cinema’. The album’s second track provided a nostalgic end to proceedings whilst still empowering Dapperton to holler the chorus at the top of his lungs with the cracked rawness of a punk singer and in doing so bringing the crowd to a veritable fever pitch.
There is little indication the AWAL signee has any intention of slowing down anytime soon. ’Where Polly People Go To Read’ represented a quantum leap in the career of an already precocious musician.
In combination with his infectious stage presence, one walked out of Howler that evening with a strong sense that his next visit to Melbourne would be at a wildly different scale. Those lucky enough to be there will, I suspect, look back at the end of 2020 and cherish the intimacy and energy of the sold-out band room that night.