26th February | Thekla
In the last couple of years, New York’s Gus Dapperton has made a name for himself as the go-to guy for crafting fashionable, jazzy pop. It’s the sort to subtly invest itself within the mainstream appeal of YouTube views and Instagram likes, while maintaining an image of tender, heartfelt sincerity, giving his music a sense of substance. The singer-songwriter’s popularity has only kept rising in recent months.
This sell-out show at Thekla is evidence enough that Dapperton is primed for the big time, whatever that is in 2019, before even releasing a full-length album. It’s only further proved by the excitability of the crowd in attendance. Young couples and rowdy lads join together to show their appreciation for this increasingly popular artist.
Warming up the crowd while bathed under some mood-setting mellow lighting, Brad Stank wallows under the suitably dulcet vibes his band creates. His vocal is unaffected and surprisingly gentle, providing a subtle and understated set, if nothing offensive.
The crowd are bustling yet not entirely unengaged; a portion of the crowd are even singing along with Stank from the get-go, the funky ‘Daddy Blue’ a sudden encouraging burst of energy. “Turn it up baby,” he warrants, and thus is rewarded, making his vocal slightly overshadowed by the zealousness of our warm, affectionate noises. Stank murmurs tender fascinations with lovers over funkier tones. The looseness of their rhythm is pleasingly atmospheric if not focused on melodic captivation.
Dapperton writes the sort of gentle, sporadic songs that range from lo-fi guitar-pop to more spectral, lounge-pop numbers, yet his varying range never quite settles into one unified notion. Live, this can leave his music feeling lacking. Dapperton sings in a pretty mellow, yet slightly off-pitch tone, providing rougher-and-readier versions of songs that are usually quite polished and tinkered with when recorded.
Yet you can’t deny the energy the crowd and Dapperton possess together, as much as the crowd seem pretty inebriated by the time he hits the stage. ‘Ditch’ brings the crowd into a united singalong, as Dapperton shakes a leg in unison with his band. The crowd hoot and holler at any movement he makes, as he lingers over the stage and punches the air.
Dapperton possesses the kind of personality that naturally generates the sort of fevered reaction he’s receiving, from the devoted crowd. He exclaims, “There’s some restless cats in here tonight!” They become even more boisterous as the synths of ‘Prune, You Talk Funny’ incite another mass singalong, overshadowing even the sound of the band as they play along to the crowd’s bellowing.
At times, however, things perhaps take too mellow a turn, which doesn’t suit Dapperton’s vocal, leaving it isolated and showing its flaws. This doesn’t disappoint the fevered crowd, though. ‘I Have Lost My Pearls’ is a tender moment that lingers soothingly, which indicates the essence of his aesthetic.
While ‘My Favourite Fish’ and ‘I’m Just Snacking’ incite another round of big singalongs from the crowd as the set comes to a close, you wish there was something more to Gus Dapperton instrumentally, something that may come to hinder his trajectory as the release of his debut album comes to the forefront.
See the video for ‘My Favourite Fish’ here: