Meet the Gang of Older Youths: Liz F.

[Ed. note: This is the second in an occasional series that celebrates some of Gang of Youths’ older fans who recently met in the Gang of Youths Appreciation Gang Facebook group. The first profile, about Jo Bain, can be found here.]

Liz F., a 57-year-old from Melbourne, describes herself as “a responsible adult, employed, stable ‘mothership’ to the young adults and dog.” She also likes “swimming in the ocean, bushwalking, writing and meditation.” After trading a few emails, I suggested to Liz that she share her Gang of Youths fandom story in a first-person essay, rather than me writing an article based on our conversation. Liz agreed, and this is her story.

“Slit the throat of fear” — isn’t that we all need? To be free, to be loved, to be unshackled. These are the themes I love most in the music of Gang of Youths. At 57, I still crave escape. I still crave to be free. I still want to take risks. I still need to believe in love. For me, songs like “Let Me Down Easy” and “The Deepest Sighs…” are pure anthems to getting on with your life.

Back in 2017 when I first latched onto Gang of Youths and told my kids about “Let Me Down Easy,” they knew exactly who I was talking about. I have since been to the Melbourne concert with my daughter and shared a beer with my son at Laneway in early 2019. I wish I had seen more of him, but a fleeting hug and a bowl of chips was all I got — you gotta let the young ones have their fun without mumsy being in their face.

Back in the “olden days” live music didn’t start on time, there was no security, there was a heavy haze of smoke above and glasses, rubbish and fallen punters underfoot. So I kind of expected that at the Melbourne concert but found it strangely sanitized and orderly. But it was a fantastic show and left me smiling for days.

The GOY’s performance at the Laneway Festival in Melbourne was more what I was looking for. This was that whole-body experience — moshing, dancing, jumping, screaming, sharing-a-joint-with-a-friendly-stranger type thing. I had the words in my head. I really was “present” and experienced it rather than just watching on. Dirty. Smokey. Loud. Outdoors. God, it was good.

I saw a lot of live music while I was a sad, young thing at university, but I have never felt so into a band as I am with Gang of Youths. I wish I could see them more often and blend in more. Even though I loved it, I felt a bit out of place at Laneway, like I was snooping in a teenager’s bedroom. I was not worried about what I would see but still felt it was not my place to be there. Maybe I need a crew of oldies to come with me? Happy, hippy types so we can all stand up and “kick some ass” together.

I think that GOY tunes are musically perfect; the listener knows where the song is going. Like the best waves, they flow and build up before crashing down around you. I love that the band’s songs access a range of emotions and allow different interpretations. They are uplifting and inspiring, but also deeply insightful and intelligent. I love the use of the complex language and concepts that Dave brings to his writing. I want to make a book and stick all the lyrics in. I think it’s brilliant that they are studied in high school and beyond.

The other surprising thing I have gained from following Gang of Youths is access to the Facebook pages dedicated to them. I really admire the people who write, think, create and share on these pages. I relate to the pain, the angst, the isolation and agony of being in your 20s. So does David Le’aupepe. He captures the essence of our struggles; he has lived those struggles and more. Dave’s insights and wisdom astound me and give me hope.

Age can lead to an emotional bluntness, a muted existence where the highs are less extreme and the lows less crushing — “descend into tedium and fear” as GOY so clearly paint it. But I still want to dive into the waves, drive fast down the highway, scream with the music and leave life behind for a little while. “Fear and Trembling,” my other fave song, suggests that we not wait for the future but get out there and keep “feeling it all.” So whether I am there with them at a show or listening at home, Gang of Youths gives me that sense of freedom and abandonment that I crave and reminds me to “say yes to life and yes to love” and to get on and live it fully, richly, deeply.

So next time they are back home, let’s get the oldies together and get to a show. It might not be what you expect, but it will be good. It will make you high for days and possibly inspire you to live your life the way you want, unshackled by fear and trembling.