Gang of Youths describe “Bad Taco Night” (their worst live gig)

Gang of Youths has been making the rounds on Radio X in the UK this week and last week, drumming up interest in the band’s mini-residency at Islington Assembly Hall (that starts on Wednesday) and telling some interesting stories along the way.

One of those stories came up on Radio X’s Evening Show, when host Gordon Smart asked Max and Dave to talk about Gang of Youths’ worst live gig. There wasn’t much hesitancy as Max started talking about “Bad Taco Night,” with Dave chiming in to add more details.

As the story goes, it was a gig in Los Angeles with a lot of music industry-types in attendance, which made for a bad atmosphere from the start. There were sound problems. The industry folks just stood and stared at the band, or talked to each other, then eventually started leaving one-by-one. And after the show, the band went out for Mexican food “and that sucked” too, as Max said.

Ouch!

On the bright side, as Dave explained, that show ended up being a “turning point” for GOY and taught the band a valuable lesson:

“It was the worst gig ever, but it actually taught me the most about being in a band, and what is actually important and not, y’know? And it’s taken us more than half a decade, like seven years, to get to any kind of point internationally, but it feels like maybe that was a turning point for us, because of our attitude. It was one of the most profound lessons I’ve ever learned. I think for Maxy, too.”

You can listen to the segment below. Max talks first, then Dave, and host Gordon Smart jumps in, as well.

If I had to guess, Max and Dave are referring to one or both of the shows that Gang of Youths played in Los Angeles at the Moroccan Lounge — May 20 and May 21, 2018. I’m basing that on the fact industry analyst Bob Lefsetz flew in for the shows, and in his write-up he talks about various radio reps and festival scouts being there. Ian Cohen of Stereogum was also there and wrote that it felt “like an industry showcase.”

If you’re unable to listen to the audio, I’ve done my best to transcribe the conversation. That’s posted below.


Max: We have a gig we all call within the band, Bad Taco Night. It was in Los Angeles, in a place called —

Dave: — which, Los Angeles, for a lot of people, is a joyous, wonderful place filled with magical rainbows and fairies and movie directors, and then if you’re in the music industry just starting out, is a place where dreams go to die. It is a vacuum, a soulless void filled with people who are going to chow down on every dream you have in your heart.

That was at that stage, and now? L.A.’s great. But back then, it was bleak. Sorry, continue mate.

Max: Oh, it was just like we always … this group, it’s like running out of a trench or playing a game of football. Like, it’s always all heart. And I think that’s the only time we’ve all collectively got off [stage] and just thought, Man, we sucked tonight. It was just garbage.

Dave: The upper echelons of the Los Angeles music fraternity were there and they kinda started trickling out. [laughs]

Max: [laughs] It was the worst show to (???). Like, everybody — all the bookers. And I think we went out for Mexican, and then that sucked. So that’s why we call it Bad Taco Night.

Gordon Smart: What was so bad about it, like musically?

Dave: It was just paralyzingly stale inside the room. The sound was terrible. Like, Guy was screwing up. And playing in front of music industry types when you’re like a little band and you think that they’re gonna save your life? That’s real intimidating, so when they give you absolutely nothing in return? When it’s a sea of white faces just staring at you, drinking, talking and then leaving one by one? It’s pretty heartbreaking.

And so, like, we learned a valuable lesson a few years ago and now we’re the most light and easy, free, not-jaded people on the planet, ’cause I think we forgot how to care about that stuff. And it was actually … it was the worst gig ever, but it actually taught me the most about being in a band, and what is actually important and not, y’know? And it’s taken us more than half a decade, like seven years, to get to any kind of point internationally, but it feels like maybe that was a turning point for us, because of our attitude. It was one of the most profound lessons I’ve ever learned. I think for Maxy, too.

Max: Yeah, it was definitely like the only time everybody’s got off, and we spent like a day, like no one talking. It was like we’d lost a really important match. That’s how it felt.

Gang of Youths profiled in Sunday’s Washington Post

How cool is this?!?

This Sunday’s Washington Post — one of the biggest newspapers in the U.S. — will have a feature article on Gang of Youths in the Arts section.

That’s some solid exposure, especially coming right after the band played to more than a thousand fans in venues like the 9:30 Club (Wash. DC), Irving Plaza (NYC) and The Metro (Chicago). And also right as the MTV Unplugged album is released in the States (today).

Even better is that the article’s online right now. 🙂

The article explains how GOY met at Hillsong Church and formed in the days when Dave began writing music for his girlfriend (and later first wife) during her bout with cancer. Author Travis Andrews obviously knows the band and music well, and  does a great job introducing both to an audience that, aside from a few scattered readers, won’t be familiar with either:

The songs concern all manner of philosophy, religion and humanity’s darkest impulses, while being absurdly uplifting at the same time. Still, it’s not Christian rock by any stretch of imagination. Le’aupepe creates the rare mainstream music that grapples with whether God exists.

Much like the Book of Revelation, his songs are studies in contrasts — in this case, between loud music and quiet ideology, between believing in the Almighty and declaring that He doesn’t exist, between bars and churches, between love and fury.

Andrews was able to chat with Dave before the band’s recent show at the 9:30 Club, and the article includes some really great quotes from that conversation.

Read the full article online here, and if you’re able to get a copy of Sunday’s Washington Post, please buy one to support journalism … and to send us a photo of the article in print!

UPDATE: Thanks to reader/forum member Tim, here’s a photo of the print article, which took up a full page in the Arts section!


Dave & Joji on ABC’s 7:30: “There’s an audience out there who wants Gang of Youths to keep giving them moments to cling to”

Australia’s ABC News recently featured Gang of Youths on its 7:30 program, and the brief segment serves as a pretty good introduction to the band for anyone who’s a new fan. If you’re a veteran fan, you might file this one away to share with friends as they finally come around. 🙂

Only Dave and Joji appear in the segment, and they talk about how they met as boys and the friendship that’s developed since then. The conversation addresses Dave’s suicide attempt in 2014, and how the band responded to that. My favorite bit comes at the end when they’re talking about songwriting, which prompts Dave to share this:

“There’s an audience out there who wants Gang of Youths to keep giving them moments to cling to and soundtracking the moments of joy and pain and elation. Joy is a very underrated quality.”

What’s great about that is the awareness of how their own music has literally saved/changed lives. I regularly read tweets directed at the band, and it seems like not a week goes by when someone isn’t thanking GOY for helping the fan get through some very difficult circumstances. It’s really moving, and that the band recognizes it and is inspired by it — as opposed to being burdened by it — is terrific.

The segment is finally available on ABC’s YouTube channel, which means it’s finally able to be embedded below and watched right here on DS. Enjoy!