In the first week of the “Twisted Tales of the Ritalin Club” tour, British rocker Dominic Harrison took over the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco as Yungblud for an evening of breaking rules and busting barriers. All of this made for one foggy Sunday night inside the poorly ventilated building, where the walls of the Regency were literally slippery with adrenaline.
Flooding the room with pink hair and horizontal stripes, fans mobbed the front of the stage in anticipation of one of England’s hottest new artists. With pink, tattered flags bordering the set up, a melancholic energy radiated from the front of the room. After the appearance of two gas-masked figures holding more flags, in what was an unimaginably suspense-building intro, the venue shook as Harrison took his first steps on stage.
Opening with crowd-pleasers “King Charles,” “21st Century Liability” and “Psychotic Kids,” the young artist’s energy took him back and forth across the stage, jumping and hollering along with his fans, who knew every word religiously.
Just like Yungblud’s last time in San Francisco, Harrison looked at the crowd in disbelief after what seemed to be every song. Always staying humble, the 22-year-old tossed countless bottles of water into the sweaty crowd as the night progressed. “That’s right, I’m a musician and a fucking sportsman,” the rowdy artist joked.
To get the crowd riled up, Harrison challenged the sea of people to get louder than his own band. As the instruments went head-to-head with the screams of the crowd, Harrison scaled the length of the stage, picking up bouquets of flowers and single pink roses thrown onstage by adoring fans.
One of the gifts Harrison brought attention to was a rainbow flag thrown in his direction. He draped the flag around his shoulders and walked over to his guitarist, whose face he took in his hand and gave a quick peck on the lips. “In this family, you can be whatever the fuck you want to be,” Harrison said. “You can love whoever the fuck you want to love.”
This message was followed by a meaningful performance of “Polygraph Eyes,” Yungblud’s ode to consent and the pain that comes when consent is missing from the equation. The crowd held up hearts at the honest show the artist gave, singing every note with intention and cementing his message into every lyric.
And even though Yungblud only dropped his single “Loner” back in February, it seems as though ages have gone by with the sparks this song created. Leading the audience in a cannon of call-outs from the chorus and outro, Harrison beamed at the genuine singing the audience served back at him.
One of Yungblud’s goals as an artist has been to “defeat the barrier between me and you,” as he said onstage. In practicing this, the artist made his way through the crowd, hidden behind a pink balaclava, as part of a “search crew” holding place in a cleared-out circle in the middle of the crowd. After Harrison’s identity was revealed by the removing of the mask, he donned a guitar for a performance of “Kill Somebody” from the heat of the audience. Grasping hands with his fans around the circle, he looked out at the pink paper hearts placed over phone flashlights all across the venue, illuminating the space in a pink glow.
After traversing the crowd to finish out the show, Harrison reappeared in a black miniskirt to perform “I Think I’m Okay,” his hit song with Machine Gun Kelly. “Has anybody seen my mic stand?” he asked, forgetting the distance that he threw the piece of equipment at the beginning of the show.
In a final call to action, Yungblud sang “Hope for the Underrated Youth,” the titular song off his upcoming EP to be released in the middle of this tour. And even though Harrison may have hope for the generations spanning his audience, getting this crowd to understand what a mosh pit is or to follow any kind of direction was disappointingly hopeless.
Provocative and powerful, the show ended in a hell-raising chant of “Fuck the NRA!” after the performance of “Machine Gun (F**k The NRA).” Fans may have gotten a breath of fresh air once they left the building, but this performance was nothing short of crisp and refreshing.
Highlights: “Polygraph Eyes,” “Loner,” “Kill Somebody”