A somewhat bizarre-sounding chant of “Gus! Gus! Gus!” filled the air of San Francisco’s Rickshaw Stop long before Gus Dapperton and his iconic bowl cut made an appearance onstage. Sauntering up to the microphone, proudly sporting keys on a carabiner and carrying a crumpled setlist, Dapperton certainly made an amusing entrance worth waiting for. Goofy dance moves and catchy indie-pop songs performed in equal measure, Dapperton and friends delivered a charming and inarguably fun performance for their audience Monday night.
After an energetic opening of “Gum, Toe and Sole,” Dapperton quickly established himself as a character by making a comedic introduction on his band members’ behalf. Dapperton provided trivia about each respective member, mentioning that drummer Tommy Sibilla lives on a farm and that bassist Ian O’Neill has a job as both a lifeguard and a bellhop. Keeping with his witty repartee, he dramatically added as a final embellishment to each individual description that everyone was 6’5”. (They weren’t.)
With introductions finished, the band’s closeness was readily apparent, especially between the siblings of the group. Dapperton’s sister and keyboardist Megan Rice served as a nice point of contrast from her brother. Dapperton’s flamboyant kicks and spins were matched well with Rice’s reserved yet still enjoyable headbanging with every pronounced chord.
The rapport among the band members not only lent itself well to the night’s beautifully executed musicality, but it bled into the excellence of the dance moves themselves. In particular, the upbeat track “Ditch” was certainly a highlight of the evening — the song ending with Dapperton and O’Neill both on the floor of the stage, kicking their feet in synchronization. Silly yet entertaining, Dapperton also showcased his range with his ability to take things seriously, especially when it comes to his songwriting.
Adding a special emphasis to his final song of the evening, Dapperton revealed a bit of backstory behind his track “I’m Just Snacking.” Citing his source of inspiration as “an esteemed colleague,” Dapperton recounted a story of how he was waiting to get dinner with a friend and then saw her enter the room, munching on some popcorn. When he protested that she would spoil her appetite, her defense was simply, “I’m just snacking.”
Dapperton took a minor epiphany from this exchange and began writing the song that night. He worked on this concept and updated it to focus instead on partaking in multiple romantic relationships at the same time. This modification definitely adapts well, as “I’m Just Snacking” has proved to be one of Dapperton’s more popular tracks — and for good reason.
Quirky and filled with whimsy, this song plainly illustrates his talent for utilising colorful and evocative language. Lyrics such as “He won’t build in / Thrones of vermillion / Whose woes is filled with / Pseudo civilians, no” fully align with Dapperton’s playful vibe and perfectly amalgamate the nerdy and cool aspects of his aesthetic. This song truly thrived onstage with O’Neill’s bass even more pronounced and delightfully funky in a live setting. “I’m Just Snacking” would have cinched the end of the concert beautifully.
But Dapperton wasn’t done with his audience yet.
Seemingly basing his decision on the crowd’s incredible energy, Dapperton didn’t even bother leaving the stage for an encore. He instead told the audience, “Of course we’re going to do one more.” After introducing the song as the bands’ “favorite bop to dance to” and inviting the crowd to dance along with him, Dapperton ripped into the opening chords of the Beatles’ iconic track “Twist and Shout.”
Certainly a surprising end to a set, the cover achieved instant success with the audience. Dapperton’s vocals shined on this particular song, as his voice, which had been creeping toward the screaming end of the vocal spectrum, was finally realized in the song’s exuberant chorus.
Indeed, it was a perfectly upbeat note to end on. Dapperton and friends succeeded in forging a memorable night for the Rickshaw audience — one that was punctuated by both groovy tracks and spectacular moves.
Contact Sarah Alford at [email protected].