Tessa Ndjonkou reveals what went down during YUNGBLUD’s latest concert in Dublin
6 pm. The doors open for YUNGBLUD’s first venue in his International As F**k tour to promote his third studio album, YUNGBLUD. Although the self-titled album remains largely biographical, it never fails to address the societal issues that also impact his fanbase, largely made up of teenagers and young adults.
I look down at my phone as the hour reaches seven o’clock. The stage lights pulse: blue, then pink, then purple, then purple again; and as the bisexual lighting shines on the crowd, the first measures of ‘The Funeral,’ the album’s lead single, blare out from the speakers, and the man himself runs onto the stage.
I’ve seen plenty of footage of YUNGBLUD concerts, but none really capture the intensity of his energy. There’s no denying he’s an amazing performer, judging by the way he’s got the crowd enraptured by the end of the first verse. He has the kind of raspy voice you can only get if you smoke, and by channeling enough energy, sex appeal and just the right amount of grit into his performance, he expels from within you something you didn’t even know you had. Like a mirror image to the music video for ‘Funeral,’ the entire crowd is jumping in sync with YUNGBLUD to celebrate a life we haven’t yet lived. The moment is young, and optimistic.
Only a few minutes after he’s finished ‘The Funeral,’ he launches into his performance of ‘Tissues' that had a beginning so similar to The Cure’s ‘Close to Me’ that I had to do a double-take. It has a dance beat which showcases YUNGBLUD’s versatility as an artist. In a world where individualism seems to be growing, YUNGBLUD shows the power in loving, needing, and being needed by others.
The Doncaster native dedicated his song ‘Cruel Kids’ to “those who hurt other people because of their ignorance.” Here, he is most likely referring to the rampant bigotry and intolerance in our modern society and that is especially prevalent on social media. YUNGBLUD has himself been the subject of attacks, due to his sexuality (he identifies as pansexual and polyamorous as of 2020) and his gender expression (he has been known to wear skirts or dresses during his shows).
This number starts slow and builds into a defiant and hopeful mantra: “I don’t want to do like the cruel kids do / I want a better life.”
‘Mad’ is simply put … an anti-capitalist bop. With the rise of hustle culture, where burnout is mandatory to ‘make it,’ YUNGBLUD asserts that the problem isn’t him but society imposing unnatural schedules we’re all expected to follow (“All my life has been set to your time”). With YUNGBLUD leading with vocals and Ben Sharp giving it all at the drums, it's the type of song that makes you want to burn everything down.
‘Sex Not Violence’ is a personal favorite of mine (sorry, Mom and Dad). Its beginning is intentionally misleading with 80s synth chords and an almost Kidz Bopz vibe. But don’t let that fool you. This song is all about dispelling the shame around sex and being unabashedly into someone above anything else. ‘Sex Not Violence’ is 2022’s equivalent to “Make Love Not War” and is shouted by the crowd like a mantra. During the performance, YUNGBLUD flirts with pianist, Matt Felix, and his guitarist, Adam Warrington, whose shredding on the electric guitar gives the song just the right amount of brass.
‘Sweet Heroine’ is a song for a dark rainy day, so be sure to add it to your Sad Girl Autumn Playlist. For three minutes, I couldn’t see a rockstar, but an extremely vulnerable guy who’s only three years older than I am who’s just trying to make sense of the world he’s been tossed into.
If you liked Normal People and a nice miscommunication trope, ‘Don’t Go’ is the song for you. With a punchy rhythm the song explores the frustrating ordeal of not being able to communicate with the ones you care about because you overthink. It encapsulates the intense yearning that comes from feeling like you’re not enough for someone, and then pushing them away so they can’t see your inaptitude.
The first concert of the tour ended with his iconic single ‘Loner’ that has a sound reminiscent of The Clash but somehow manages to seamlessly incorporate rapped verses. Dominic Harrison [YUNGBLUD] was only 21 when ‘Loner’ was released and hearing it again makes me reflect on how far he’s come. Since, he’s been vetted by and collaborated with artists like Imagine Dragons front man Dan Reynolds, Ozzy Osbourne and Mick Jagger. Despite that, he’s still stunned to silence that the entire crowd knows the lyrics.
Maybe that’s what makes YUNGBLUD’s music so likable, and gig so incredible: he isn’t cool in the traditional sense. He’s a loner, he’s a self-proclaimed loser who was mocked for his individuality and his choices and yet, he’s made it. The message that sends to his fanbase is that your difference, whatever it may be, is not what makes you lesser than... it’s what makes you special.