YUNGBLUD might not be the artist we deserve, but he’s the new artist we need. A raw, electrifying and unusual combination of icons like Harry Styles and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, his recent live performance in Melbourne was the ultimate bridge between great rock music and a younger audience who didn’t know they craved it.
A side-show of his Splendour in the Grass debut the following day, the 19-year-old from Doncaster, UK – real name Dominic Harrison – was kitted out in tight black pants, hanging chains, jewellery, messy hair, dark eyeliner and a pink and black-striped shirt; all elements of what is quickly becoming his signature, recognisable look. A look, and a sound, that we’re undoubtedly going to only hear more of, as he gets bigger and better.
YUNGBLUD’s infectious energy and bursting smile flowed into the Corner Hotel through some of his most well-known hits, including ‘Anarchist’ and ‘21st Century Liability’, from his debut record with the same name.
Despite being released only two weeks earlier, it was astonishing that almost the entire room could sing along with him, lyric-for-lyric. His album has clearly had an immediate and profound impact on so many people, both young and old, evidenced by the mixed audience that night. From teenage girls in the front row handing him roses and lollipops, screaming to their friends through Snapchat when he touched their hands, to older guys dressed in all black, maintaining their headbanging and moshing through the night, YUNGBLUD’s audience is varied and unique.
I think where everyone can find common ground is through the power and weight of his lyrics – constant references to struggling, love and relationships, as well as the darker exploration of pain, mental illness, drugs and suicide; it’s honest, it’s vulnerable, and often really hard to comprehend. Yet YUNGBLUD presents these thoughts and inner demons in a way that is relatable – he doesn’t normalise or champion this darkness, but he admits that he struggles, paving the way for others to feel confident enough to speak out as well.
Another obvious reason as to why so many different kinds of people love and relate with YUNGBLUD has to be accredited to his genre-bending music. Foundations of alternative rock with strong punk protest, mixed with the influences of hip-hop and ska ensures that there’s a little bit for everyone, whilst still creating something entirely fresh and exciting.
All of this of course culminates in an insanely intense, buzzing live show that shouldn’t be missed.
A strong highlight was his emotional performance of ‘Polygraph Eyes’, a heartfelt protest against sexual assault, delivered by a man calling out other men. With a chorus ringing “Leave her alone mate, she doesn’t want to go home with you”, it’s hard to ignore the importance of his timely message. More so, it’s incredible witnessing a young artist use his position of fame and influence to make a stand for prominent social issues. I really hope that he continues on this path, writing music that is open and blunt, cutting straight to the point with each powerful note.
After powering through every track from his debut (like ‘Kill Somebody’, ‘Medication’ and ‘Psychotic Kids’) as well as the leftover songs from his self-titled EP (the heartbreaking story of ‘I Love You, Will You Marry Me’) YUNGBLUD certainly gained a room full of fans – given everybody there wasn’t already hugely in love with him. His bold intensity and sex appeal that very few artists can truly tap into these days constructed a brilliant show that had us sweating and beaming by its end.
YUNGBLUD is undeniably a new breed of rockstar. He’s full to the brim of both nostalgia and futuristic uncertainty, continually pushing boundaries and giving electric performances that appeal to a variety of people simultaneously.
Keep an eye out for this young musician – soon everyone will know his name, and he deserves all the attention he’ll undoubtedly receive.
Corner Hotel, Richmond
Saturday July 21
Supported by Bec Sandridge
Reviewed by Zach Edwards
Photos by Tyhe Reading