The concept of ‘A More Perfect Union’ has been something Gang Of Youths have been working towards for a long time now. As one of Australia’s current leading rock bands, the Sydney five piece have spent the majority of 2018 touring overseas. But they’ve finally returned home for a massive run of sold out headline shows that sees them playing 6 shows in Sydney alone. But for the Brisbane date, they had something else planned. Announcing their first ever self-organised festival, ‘A More Perfect Union’ is a unique and standalone event that sees a bunch of their favourite artists coming together for an ideal summers afternoon. Featuring Jack River, Luca Brasi, Thelma Plum, Charlie Collins and Publique, this all Australian fuelled line up perfectly balances in equality and diversity. They even partnered up with PLUS1 so that $1 from every ticket sold went to support the Aboriginal Legal Service which is an incredible initiative.
As the sun beamed over the Riverstage and the angsty vibes of Publique and the chilled out sounds of Charlie Collins entertained the early punters, they also perfectly introduced the pure diversity this event embodies. With Thelma Plum taking to the stage, low sound levels made it hard for the crowd to hear her for part of her aesthetically placed mid afternoon set. As she crooned through tracks from her forthcoming debut album she had the crowd swaying on the hill whilst having a cheeky little beverage. ‘Romantic Property’, ‘Better Hold Back’ , ‘Cave’ and the sweet ‘Homecoming’ were raw little favourites that I personally cant wait to hear studio versions of. But it wasn’t just unreleased material that she debuted during the set, she even threw it back to her early EP’s with performances of ‘Father Said’ and ‘How much Does Your Love Cost’ that had the crowd singing along. However it was new single ‘Clumsy Love’ that got the biggest reaction in her set followed by the quirky closer ‘La Di Di’ which she dedicated as the song you scream to someone you hate. Her short but sweet set had the chilled out vibes rolling and you were equally enchanted by her gracious banter which saw her excitedly gushing about how her mum was in the crowd. I just wish her sound wasn’t so all over the place as it did make it hard to hear her at times and fully enjoy the aesthetics she was providing.
Turning up the volume and opening up the pitt, Tasmanian punk rockers Luca Brasi exploded onto the stage with their high energy set. Celebrating the recent release of their fourth studio album ‘Stay’ they powered through tracks like ‘Clothes I Slept In’, ‘Let It Slip’ and ‘Got To Give’. But they also dived into their back catalogue to play tracks from their other three albums including the mega favourite ‘Anything Near Conviction’. They kept their energy high throughout the whole set and had everyone sweating from running around as the sun set above them.
Taking to the stage in a sparkling silver suit, Jack River transported the sold out crowd back to the 80’s with a nostalgic pop-rock set. 2018 has been a massive year for the Sydney singer-writer as she’s spent most of the year on the road after she released her anthemic debut album ‘Sugar Mountain’. So as she euphorically opened with ‘Ballroom’ her glittery and aesthetically raw tracks really delivered that nostalgia you feel when you listen to their studio versions. Powering through ‘Palo Alto’, ‘Talk Like That’, ’Limo Song’ and ‘Stardust & Rust’ she took a moment to look out to the giant crowd. “This is a venue of dreams” she gushed as she explained how she’s always wanted to play the Riverstage. She continued to gush about how excited she was because Gang Of Youths are one of her favourite bands and she couldn’t believe she was playing this very special event which was really cute and humble. As she got closer to the end of her set the Triple J anthems ‘Confess’, ‘Fault Line’ and the unstoppable ‘Fools Gold’ had massive singalong breaking out left, right and centre. She even threw in a rare little Yeah Yeah Yeah’s cover which was a cool little bonus. Even with minimal production there’s just something about her which is so magical and captivating that you can’t help but be so wrapped up in her presence when she performs.
With the night sky fully set, and the energy incredibly high the band of the hour finally took to the stage for their massive headlining set. Without Gang Of Youths this event wouldn’t have happened and it was obvious that the crowd were so excited that they decided to hold the inaugural event in Brisbane. At sold out capacity, the Riverstage turned into a sea of hands as everyone swayed along to the mellow opening of ‘Fear And Trembling’ before launching into full angst mode with it’s punchy hook. Emerging from the thick smoke that surrounded the stage, lead singer David Le’aupepe looked out to the countless shining lights and exclaimed “Brisbane, Welcome to A More Perfect Union Thanks for showing up today!” which was met with a massive roar of excitement. With ‘What Can I Do If The Fire Goes Out’, ‘L’Imaginaire’ and ‘Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane’ following, they decided to slow it down for a moment. ‘Explaining how ‘Keep Me In The Open’ was about deserving more, Le’aupepe made sure the crowd knew they all deserved more before he started the next song. From there they turned up the volume and brought out the big singalong favourites with ‘Go Farther In Lightness’, ‘The Heart Is A Muscle’, ‘Let Me Down Easy’ and ‘Magnolia’. It was no surprise that they crowd were on top of each others shoulders, throwing drinks around and screaming the lyrics at the top of their lungs. After all most of their songs debuted on the Triple J Hottest 100 Countdown at the start of the year.
Taking a moment to celebrate his one year wedding anniversary on Sunday he dedicated a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘I’m On Fire’ to his wife before closing with ‘The Deepest Sighs, The Frankest Shadows’. It wasn’t long before they remerged onto the stage for early favourites ‘Still Unbeaten Life’ and ‘Vital Signs’ before actually closing with ‘Say Yes To Life’. The 80 minute alternative rock show was accompanied by a heavy and moody light show that complimented the heavy smoke effects. But whilst Le’aupepe is an incredible frontman, at times the show was a little monotonous. They needed something to break this show out a little bit from just your normal rock show which you could witness at the Tivoli. Whether thats a bigger production value or whether they do a little acoustic section at the back of the venue. It would be cool to see them elevate their live show to the next level from what they’ve already been doing for years. But the crowd didn’t really seem to mind as they passionately sang along to every song in unison and continually screamed for more every time Le’aupepe moved his hips.
We’ve gone from seeing Client Liaison hosting their own touring festival to now seeing Gang Of Youths pull off the massive career move. So maybe Australian bands coming together to create their own little festivals might just be the future of touring. I’m very not opposed to this idea at all!
Check out the full gallery captured by Zac Monty Media HERE;
Photos by Zac Montgomery
Remaining Australian Tour Dates;
Monday 26 November – Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Tuesday 27 November – Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Thursday 29 November – Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Friday 30 November, Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Monday 28 January – Laneway Festival, Auckland
Saturday 2 February – Laneway Festival, Brisbane
Sunday 3 February – Laneway Festival, Sydney
Friday 8 February – Laneway Festival, Adelaide
Saturday 9 February – Laneway Festival, Melbourne
Sunday 10 February – Laneway Festival, Perth