Review by Benjamin Essoo with Photography by Jeremy Carron

Tucked away in trendy Bethnal Green, along the Regent’s canal and within eye shot of the iconic gasholders, Oval Space is the perfect venue for such an evening, playing host to Gus Dapperton for one night only.

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Stepping inside the venue is akin to walking into a time machine as you’re taken back 25-30 years or so, and with reason, as Dapperton’s aesthetic, inspired by his childhood, is that of bold, contrasting yet complimentary colour and a strong 90s influence.

As the room fills out, and without many actually realising his appearance, first support Rainy Miller inconspicuously starts performing. No introduction, just straight in.

Hailing from Preston, Miller is humble and introverted as he steadily sings through his set without much interaction, only stopping to say thank you and show his appreciation for those who had come early and were catching his set.

He is very “in the zone” and doesn’t venture away from his mic stand, but his performance speaks for itself. Vocals auto-tuned, Miller’s music is relaxed, sometimes giving off an 808s Kanye vibe, other times, if you closed your eyes, you’d think you were listening to T-Pain. He’s very, very good, though, and I’d go as far as to say his music sounds better live than it does recorded. You get more of a feeling and the band bring an added dynamic.

Once he’s finished, Miller takes his leave without word, which, I guess, is in line with his persona and certainly adds to the mystique surrounding him as an artist.

Shortly after, Pig take to the stage and in contrast to Miller, lead Oscar Lang is buoyant and engaging. After a brief technical difficulty, they soon have the audience swaying with “Change”, the first of their seven song set. My first impression is that their sound vaguely reminds me of The Beach Boys at times, but this isn’t something you’d pick up from listening to their albums. The live adaptation is more upbeat and Oscar’s personality shines through, with lots of fun and kisses.

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We’re only one song in when he confesses that he was having so much fun that he forgot the chords! The set includes hits ‘Snacks’, ‘Not Fair’ and ‘Liking All Your Posts’ and shows off their diversity as a band, mix and matching between high energy and slow and melodic tunes. The most poignant moment, possibly the moment when the night changed entirely, was when Oscar asked the crowd to dance and not be embarrassed as they probably won’t see anyone else again. This resonated as from then on, you could tell everyone felt more at ease and there was a hell of a lot more dancing. Oscar himself is free-flowing and on-point, likeable and somehow orchestrates a mosh pit to ‘Underwater Trees’, a song you wouldn’t normally think could be moshed to for their closing song.

Now after what feels like an age, albeit with a fantastic soundtrack (including the likes of Michael Jackson, Wham! and Marvin Gaye) playing during the interim, Gus Dapperton finally arrives on stage, dressed in sparkling pink overalls, shimmering in the UV lighting.

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Without much ado, the band roll into ‘Gum, Toe and Sole’, a strong opener, showing off Gus’ range with his characteristic softer and purer vocals during the verses and his raspy reaches during the chorus.

The effeminate Dapperton is a conductor through his music, raising and dropping the tempo at will, yet maintaining the attention and the life-force of his audience with idiosyncratic synth and melodies which unhinge even the stiffest of hips.

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The internet sensation delves into his back-catalogue including ‘In Fluorescence’, one of his earliest releases, and one which is hidden in the recesses of Youtube. From there we’re thrust into the present with ‘Amadelle’, where, like Oscar before, Gus invites everyone to dance if they want to because “we’ll be dancing on stage”. This is a running feature as not only are Gus and his eccentric band performing, they are also dancing and enjoying their own music with as much gusto as their adorning crowd.

Six or so songs in, Gus takes a moment to pause and says, “at this point of the evening we like to take requests” before pondering responses and strumming the intro to ‘Prune’, which gets the biggest reaction of the night as the room explodes in excitement, jumping and of course, dancing. The room is a bustle of movement, the lighting above weaving pretty patterns whilst the collective below cut their own shapes.

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After the high, the tempo comes down again, spiced with hits ‘My Favourite Fish’ and ‘I’m Just Snacking’ before fans are treated to the brand new ‘Fill Me Up’, which we’re told not to record and keep under wraps as it is only being performed tonight.

To finish with, Dapperton turns it up a notch, saving the best til last with a rousing performance of ‘World Class Cinema’ and an unforgettable and rangy cover of ‘Twist and Shout’, which in itself is a sight to behold.

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Although relatively new to the game, Gus Dapperton truly has crafted out his own niche. His vision is all encompassing, from his sound to his fashion sense to the film-like directorship of his own music videos*, his dancing, styling, his print media and website. Every aspect of his act is carefully thought out, down to the lighting. It’s a lot of work yet he makes everything seem effortless, always with beautiful results.

*If you haven’t already, I highly recommend watching the music videos for ‘Prune’ and ‘World Class Cinema’, if not for their artistic film-like quality, then for Gus’ unique and unashamed dancing style.

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Setlist:
Gum, Toe and Sole
Moodna, Once with Grace
In Fluorescence
Amadelle with Love
Ditch
Beyond Amends
Prune, You Talk Funny
I Have Lost My Pearls
Of Lacking Spectacle
The Fool
My Favourite Fish
I’m Just Snacking
Fill Me Up
World Class Cinema
Twist & Shout

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