What in new-age emo is this?
Anna Smith
13:57 13th February 2020

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Picture the scene: you’re in Camden Assembly (née Barfly), the room is jam-packed with teenagers donning every hair colour under the sun, 200 voices are screaming to the chorus of ‘I’m Not Okay (I Promise)’. You feel out of place: should you have popped to Blue Banana on your way here for some Manic Panic and Vans laces to tie round your wrist?

It’s hard not to be immediately indoctrinated by the cult aura of a Yungblud show. Either that or, as in the case of tonight’s BRITs week War Child show, feel completely and utterly bewildered at the scene laid out before you. 

As he jumps - rather aggressively - on-stage to ‘Parents’ those uninitiated may wonder aloud “what in new-age emo is this?”. To those in the know, however, Yungblud’s larger-than-life mouth and inability to stand still have accumulated him a dedicated, densely populated army of apostles. 

“I’m feeling well fooking silly tonight” he grins in his caricature-like Northern drawl, before opting to roll straight in to ‘Psychotic Kids’ and ‘King Charles’, turning the room into a scene not dissimilar to Mentos in a Coca-Cola bottle. 

Constantly cuddling the front row and taking breaks to listen to his fans’ loving heckles, there’s a real element of intimacy and affection tonight, heightened by the close proximity of the venue. It’s nuances like spending the day greeting his queueing fans, never failing to introduce himself after gigs and treating the room like a bunch of his best friends that have transcended Yungblud from potentially shouty infomercial level of interaction to genuine saviour of the “underrated youth”.

In perhaps the most telling moment of the evening, a girl repeatedly screams from the audience about wanting to play drums for ‘braindead!’, to which Dom gives her a drumstick and tells her to “go crazy” with it. Cradling her head and encouraging her to plug her own band on the mic before leaping off stage, he gives that girl a moment she’ll probably cherish for the rest of her life, even after she’s outgrown the magic of youth and ability to listen to Yungblud in a non-nostalgic manner. 

Acoustic moments ‘Casual Sabotage’ and ‘Waiting on the Weekend’ feel earnest, despite coming from someone who most probably has never even sniffed in the direction of 9-5 mundanity in his life. They also showcase his genuine vocal talent, demonstrating control and reach, something that the more buoyant songs in his repertoire forego. 

From hip swings and gender fluidity, to chants of ‘Fuck Boris’ and stage invasions, Yungblud is far from critical darling. But tonight in this room, cynical industry cries of “hot property” could not be less important; there’s nothing but Dom, his fans, and a heart-warming sense of camaraderie, all in the name of charity. 

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Photo: Luke Dyson