Photos and review by Karla Bueno
A product of a new wave of creative millennials, Gus Dapperton is an emerging musical giant. His unique style incorporates layers of analog instruments over narrative-based lyrics. With his unharried vocals and synth-heavy instrumentals, some describe his work as bedroom indie, a sub-genre of indie-pop.
Gus Dapperton, 22, was born Brendan Rice in Warick, NY. The artist self-produce much of his early work, using YouTube as his primary platform. After graduating from high school, he attended Drexel University where he studied music technology — no doubt garnishing a few new techniques which helped to refine his signature musical texture.
Rice first gained major attention when producers used his work in the popular Netflix series “13 Reasons Why.” Having acquired a new throng of fans, Gus Dapperton then came out with his second EP, “You Think You’re a Comic,” in 2018, followed by his debut full-length album “Where Polly People Go to Read.”
On his 2019 The Polly People US Tour, Gus Dapperton has continued to captivate a growing fanbase as he performed in different cities across the country.
On Oct. 4, 2019, I arrived at the Metro Chicago fully expectant and excited to see Gus Dapperton live on his fifth stop on the 30-city tour.
Having already listened to Gus Dapperton’s earlier work, I expected a full crowd of people ready to enjoy themselves. Conversations dotted the venue as concert-goers around me awaited the man of the hour, and strangers became friends as they discussed their favorite Gus Dapperton track and which songs they hoped to hear live.
The fairly small venue established an intimate setting, and the music seemed to galvanize the eager listeners as they danced and sang along with Gus as he performed songs from his well-received first studio album.
Gus’s ability to bring vulnerability to his music struck the crowd who, instead of singing with him, simply watched. Despite the fact that we’re in the age of the everyday photojournalist, there were not many phones held in the air. The crowd was so fully present in what was happening all around them – a nod to the New York artist’s talent that he was able to supersede even the cultural need to document every moment. From “Fill Me Up Anthem” to “I’m Just Snacking,” the crowd remained in the moment, letting the music’s energy direct them.
The lyrics, performance and authentic creative expression had people championing him by the end of the night.
His performance of “Eyes for Ellis” was particularly notable; the passion with which he sang it gave me chills that consumed my whole being. The performance seemed to loosen up the concert-goers, who all began to dance – Gus’s vocal croonings were enticing the entire audience, moving them to jump and head-bang all over the venue.
Gus Dapperton’s performance kept people hyped with excitement and eager for more. While it was my first Gus Dapperton concert, it won’t be my last. His gift to capture the crowd’s energy with his music seemed natural, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself as I experienced the clash of song, sound and energy of Gus Dapperton’s live show.
As the night came to a close, Gus Dapperton had provoked the loyal crowd to sing along with his soulful lyrics, whether they knew them by heart or if they were just discovering them.