He’s 24, he’s from New York, he’s the king of indie-pop, he is Gus Dapperton. It felt like my birthday when I got to attend his October show at the Fonda. The twinkling lights of Hollywood Boulevard led me into the theatre, where I eagerly awaited one of my favorite artists
I have been listening to Gus Dapperton since 2018, and had the pleasure of seeing his electric performance at Tropicalia Festival in 2019. Gus has always captivated me with his bold style, dreamy indie production, and unique vocals that nod to 90s shoegaze. His sound is both dynamic and personal; he has crafted a unique style consistent through his work. I have always craved a smaller and more personal setting than a massive outdoor festival.
The Fonda did not disappoint. Packed with indie teens and adults alike, a low chatter fluttered through the excited attendees. Cuffed jeans, striped shirts and platform shoes seemed to be the dress code for the night, although I didn’t quite get the memo beforehand. The venue is intimate but features tall ceilings and ornate wall decor that create a sense of magnitude and importance. Fluorescent blue and purple lights paint a hazy glow on the crowd.
After a warm and lighthearted opening set by Spill Tab, flashing strobe lights welcomed Gus to stage. Donning a powder blue suit and skeleton-style face paint, he instantly established his unparagoned style. Dancing keys and a mellow baseline ran through the building like soft breeze, and Gus soon after captivated his audience with stunning vocals.
“I’d crash in time to mutilate my love/And de-mark the slate” Gus screamed into the microphone, igniting the audience who cheered and screamed in response. Each lyric was sung with conviction, clarity, and drawn-out notes. Gus proved his style is as bold as his stage presence.
“My grave puts all the weight on hold/This grave roots all the way back home”. He repeats this chorus over and over to conclude his opening song, each line becoming more breathy until his vocals fade into thin air. The stage faded into black, and the vibrations of the song created a line of goosebumps along my arms.
His set continued, with flashing fluorescent lights and psychedelic animations projected on the screen behind. Gus was transfixing in his composure and confidence on stage. His goofy dance moves, high energy and smiles between songs made the performance feel personal and down to earth. I felt my chest buzz with happiness and with hope; this is the kind of experience I missed so deeply during lockdown. The crowd was effervescent and dancing throughout the show, which further deepened my gratitude to be in the presence of other humans.
“Soft spoken/Chipper and Chokin’” echoed through the once again dark stage, and the crowd erupted. Screams of happiness joined a strobe light that welcomed Gus to stage again. Everyone started dancing with even more exaggerated movements. Jumping and clapping fans joined in singing the chorus; “You’re my favorite fish/you’re my favorite fish”. A personal favorite song of mine, I joined in the passionate screaming of lyrics to “Favorite Fish”.
Later Gus performed “Gum, Toe, and Sole,” which I was lucky to see live at his 2019 Tropicalia performance. Experiencing it for the second time was even more spectacular. Gus and his band displayed chemistry, and his own bass performance dazzled. It was beautiful to see how his onstage confidence had grown since 2019, as well as an overall sense of lyrical and musical development into a more complete sound.
Sadly, the show would eventually have to come to a close. “Post Humerous” from Gus’ most recent album was chosen as the concluding act. He leaned in close to the microphone to open the song with lyrics:
“Old friend/It’s me and you again/And old boy/As me and you rejoice”.
Gus whispered and drew out each word, almost as if he was letting the audience in on a secret. In that moment, I felt so connected to both Gus and my fellow audience, and so truly alive. His low, strained vocals continued, gradually becoming louder. A simple guitar loop threads through the song, until drums and bass dominate the chorus. Gus’ voice began to twist at the chorus, and the crowd cheerfully reacted. Eventually, his voice began to lower again until he whispered out “Oh-oh, oh-oh/Consume me through the night” repeatedly, and the stage once again went dark.
Cheers and applause rang louder than any time previously. Everything felt colorful and alive, and it felt so beautiful to share this experience with so many other people. I felt connected to my fellow crowd members as we all enjoyed Gus’ set together, but at the same time reflected on the anonymity of being in a large crowd. At concerts, especially ones as striking as these, who you are does not matter as much as the music you are enjoying. One can come exactly as they are and bask in the magic of their favorite performer with hundreds to thousands of other unfamiliar faces. You become intertwined with strangers just for one night, and I have always found this experience to be humbling and lovely. People began pushing their way through to the doors, chatting with each other and dancing to background music. Eventually, I shuffled out into the cold night air and felt a sense of calm contentment. The night was perfect, and I fell asleep knowing I’d carry it with me forever.