The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

The joy, magic of attending favorite artists’ concert


There’s a particular joy many people experience from buying tickets for a concert and waiting a few weeks in eager anticipation for the night. That’s how I felt when my mom bought tickets for a show starring Gus Dapperton at the Wonder Ballroom in Northeast Portland. An alt-pop musician from NYC, he isn’t one of my top artists, but he has a few songs I love, including tracks from his newest album Henge. Therefore, it was hard to pass up the opportunity to see a major artist play, especially when visiting Portland on tour.

When the night finally arrived, I drove with my mom to the show after school. We walked in about 15 minutes before the start time, and I first noticed how big yet small the Wonder Ballroom is. The space is standing room only for most shows, so everyone was jostling for the best position up close, cursing the tall people blocking their view. It was a bit of a wait until someone finally came out, and it wasn’t Gus but instead the opener for the night, Sarah Kinsley. She performed with plenty of energy, lots of synthesizer and a fairly animated performance. I vaguely recognized one or two of her songs from indie genre playlists on Spotify. Her music was enjoyable but not what I had come to the concert for. 

After she left the stage, we all waited over half an hour as theater staff and band members prepared the stage. There was a rainbow’s variety of songs playing in the background, but that couldn’t distract from my legs aching from standing the whole time. 

Finally, Gus and his bandmates came out and the audience went wild. As they took the stage, they played a sound clip from the ‘50s classic “Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra and Count Basie before transitioning into the first song of the night, “Sunset”–the first track from Henge. It’s also my favorite song from the album, so it opened the night on a high note for me. The song was followed by a few of his older songs I didn’t recognize, and then Gus played a mystery song, unique to each performance on the tour. 

The different options for the song were drawn at random and were from Gus’s previous music projects. I always like when artists add unique sections to their show. Next, Gus let the audience decide if his sister and keyboard player Ruby should sing the next song, an original or cover. Their cheers voted for her to play Gus’s own music. After Ruby’s beautifully soulful performance on keyboard and vocals, he rewarded the audience by having her play the other option as well, a cover of a pop song that I had probably heard once before but most of the audience seemed to know well. 

By about this time I was starting to get tired of the concert, for I had not recognized many of the songs in a while. But then Gus announced there were two songs left in the planned show, and I knew that meant that he would be playing “Post Humorous,” from his sophomore album Orca. The lyrics are haunting, the drums and guitar chilling, and his voice expressive and emotional. It’s a textbook example of a solemn indie rock song and an ideal closer to a performance. It also happens to have been my favorite song made by anyone in the past year!

Of course Gus wouldn’t be done after that, and he surely expected a burning desire from the audience for an encore and an upbeat song to properly end the night. When he started playing “Horizons”—another one of my favorite songs from Henge—my happiness reached a new level for the night. He told the audience they better dance, and dance we did. My throat was dry and scratchy from belting out broken lyrics from memory, and I was jumping up and down so much my stomach hurt and my legs felt weak, but it was a perfect way to close out the concert. 

Before the dancing could stop, Gus played one last song, a cover of “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles. I thought it was really cool that he started and ended the concert with songs from many decades ago. After the concert ended and was only left present in my ears, I decided to wait in a line to get a shirt and CD so I could remember the concert forever, the second major one I’ve attended. 

Seeing Gus Dapperton perform live was an amazing experience and definitely left me feeling more connected to his music. The experience of going to a physical concert beats any music video; the crowd surrounding you, the acoustics you can really feel from the floor shaking and sound flowing all around you. I would recommend going to an in-person performance like this to anyone who hasn’t ever been, especially in a more intimate venue like the Wonder Ballroom.

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About the Contributor
Eban Slate, Copy Editor
Eban Slate (he/him) is a sophomore who enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, running, playing piano and shooting photos. He joined The Oracle to write and photograph interesting stories for readers to be inspired by.

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