Gus Dapperton was at home at Union Transfer on Tuesday, Nov. 12. A former Drexel student, Dapperton’s performance in this redesigned farmers' market and factory felt like an easygoing college show. With his bowl cut, baseball hat, and baggy vintage sweatshirt, he’s as much of a peer as he is a performer. He’s Generation Z’s indie rock artist: a goofy guy with a 90’s–inspired look. Dapperton’s not there to put on a spectacle, but rather a fun and comfortable dance party.
When he took the stage, you could hear members of the college crowd shouting out, “Sup Gus?” and “Gussy Gussy!” In those moments, it’s hard to believe that he’s been featured by The New York Times and was tapped to write the song “Of Lacking Spectacle” for Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why. Beyond his casual demeanor, Gus Dapperton is making music that isn’t lacking in quality or integrity. His debut album, Where Polly People Go To Read released this April, is a woozy and ethereal album that rolls through universal young adult emotions from angsty frustration to blissful joy.
The first song of his performance is “Verdigris,” which begins with a synth beat that Dapperton dances to in a way that’s mechanical and wacky. His fuzzy vocals sound deeply personal as he sings through lines that are simple and poetic: “Love, you shine like verdigris.” Continuing with this heartfelt performance, he moves into “Moodna, Once with Grace,” another somber love song. It’s a surprisingly sincere start for an artist whose presence is so exuberant.
Leaning into the mood, Dapperton plays “Ditch,” a cryptic song that captivates the crowd. The lyrics are hard to make out, but they feel familiar and warm. There’s an apparent change in the atmosphere as he announces, “This next song is one you can dance too.” The crowd's energy builds as he plays the “Fill Me Up Anthem”. Dapperton sings with a clarity and confidence that stands in contrast with his usual hazy and lo–fi style. The song serves as a fitting transition for “My Favorite Fish” and “I’m Just Snacking,” two of his biggest hits.
“My Favorite Fish” is a quirky song that balances humor with the wholesome sentiment of love toward his girlfriend. Referring to the expression, “there’s plenty of fish in the sea,” Dapperton describes the person he loves as his “favorite fish.” Singing the lines, “Soft–spoken, chipper and choking,” and, “off–axis, sprightly and spastic,” he strays from flattery, but nonetheless conveys a sense of care and acceptance toward his love.
In the final moments of his performance, Dapperton moves on to the song that launched his success: “I’m Just Snacking.” It’s a pure and endearing song, about a love between people who don’t care for wealth or image. Yet, like much of his music it's sung in a way that’s a bit gloomy and makes the song feel bittersweet. Dapperton exits the stage after a short set, leaving the crowd yearning for more.
Luckily, he returns to the stage to perform the high–energy, cathartic song, “World Class Cinema” and a cover of the The Top Notes' “Twist and Shout.” The night ends full of excitement and enjoyment. Earlier feelings of gloom are replaced with youthful exuberance.
Looking onto the stage at this young musician, it’s clear that he too is just exploring and stumbling through his young adult years. As he sings through hazy lines about the trials and tribulations of love, he still manages to dance and enjoy himself, and has a contagious way of getting the crowd to do the very same.