The phrase “Dance like no one’s watching” is a tired cliche. From now on, try “Dance like Gus Dapperton.” The New York singer and multi-instrumentalist lit up the Royale not only with his ethereal synth-pop music, but with his uninhibited dancing featuring flapping arms, thrashing legs, and pure, unrestrained joy. When he wasn’t confined to the mic stand playing guitar, he bounced and flailed back and forth the stage in a way that might have been awkward if he didn’t completely own it.
He opened the set with “Verdigris,” the first track off his debut album, Where Polly People Go To Read (2019), and the crowd immediately began to groove along to the infectious bassline. Throughout the night, Gus kept the crowd energized, often inviting fans to dance along by saying “We will also be dancing up on stage,” and fans happily obliged.
His live show demonstrates a mastery of balance, as he played through both bubbly synth-pop as well as “slow jams” as he called them. During these songs, including “Of Lacking Spectacle” and “I Ascend,” the rawness of his voice and conveyed pain and emotion.
Just before the encore, he brought the opening bands, Spencer and Yendawg (Gus’s bassist’s band), out on stage for “Fill Me Up Anthem.” Starting off softly with Gus’s sister on the keyboard, the song slowly built and layered until it filled the entire venue with its growling vocals and 80s-inspired synths. Gus left the audience shouting for more, and he delivered, playing through “World Class Cinema” and a euphoric cover of “Twist and Shout.”
The performance proved that Gus Dapperton is more that silly dance moves and a neon bowl cut—he is truly passionate about what he does, and everyone in the audience could feel it.