Last night, Mac and I drove to Portland to catch Depeche Mode in concert. He’d intended to take his wife, but they had a miscommunication about dates. Turns out Pam’s in Taiwan right now haha, so Mac took me instead.

The Depeche Mode concert was fine. It was just what you’d want from them. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was fun. I mainly listened to their early stuff when I was young, so I was hoping they’d play some of that. They only played “Just Can’t Get Enough”. Still, I knew more than half of their setlist. (As an example of the Depeche Mode music I loved when I was younger, here’s “Leave in Silence” (live in Hamburg in 1984) and “Any Second Now”. )

The real revelation of the night, though, was the opening act: Young Fathers.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

I’d never even heard of Young Fathers before we got to the arena. I expected them to be a forgettable opening band. They’re anything but forgettable. If I were forced to describe their sound it’d be: poetry and pounding drums. What do Young Fathers actually sound like? Like this.

That’s a pretty good representation of what we heard last night, with the difference that this band is much better live. (Believe it or not, there’s a lot about Young Fathers that reminds me of early U2, and the “better live” thing is one of them.)

Young Fathers play driving rhythmic anthems with deep thrumming percussion that fills the entire arena and soaks into your soul. I’ve never seen a band that’s almost entirely percussion-driven before, but Young Fathers are. When they do use traditional instruments (bass guitar, keyboard) it’s purely for rhythm. There’s no melodic instrumental line. The melody comes from voices only.

If you have a good set of headphones (or a good sound system connected to YouTube), watch the video to “I Saw”. It’s…wow.

I’m going to stop talking now and just share amazing videos of the group in action — let them speak for themselves.

Here’s a twenty-minute live performance on KEXP radio in Seattle:

And here’s the Young Fathers NPR tiny desk concert, which features a more tone-downed sound (because you can’t really cram three drums into the tiny desk space).

Lastly, here’s a full hour-long concert performance from Young Fathers. This will give you a taste of what I experienced last night. But again, nothing can compare to feeling the deep, powerful thrum inside your soul from the rhythm and percussion.

The only song I can remember that sounded remotely like this band is “I Can’t Break Away” by Big Pig.

Wait. I guess The Hu’s “Wolf Totem” sounds vaguely similar too. (The Hu are — and I’m not kidding — a “Mongolian folk metal band”.)

I have no idea how to describe this kind of music, but I love it. I want to find more of it. It very much fits a state of mind I get into sometimes. I find it powerful and motivational.

p.s. The title to Young Fathers’ second album is amazing: White Men Are Black Men Too.

6 Replies to “Young fathers.”

  1. Julie says:

    As a massive Depeche Mode fan since birth (1983), I loved every minute of Depeche Mode’s performance and found the music of Young Fathers to be horrible- to be fair, I saw them on the 26th in Seattle and it felt so mishmashed and just wrong, but perhaps they were having an off night. I always get to Depeche Mode concerts when the doors open but intentionally arrived late at Moda Center at 8:15ish and stayed out of our seats until Young Fathers was done, a first for me. Maybe they were more cohesive in Portland? I guess this serves as a good reminder that everyone hears music differently and that there is truly something for everyone. I am glad for your good fortune to be able to attend due to a scheduling issue on your friend’s part!

  2. Mack says:

    I first heard Young Fathers on the Trainspotting 2 soundtrack (which is really good if you haven’t heard it!) and I keep meaning to check them out more

  3. olga says:

    Pam is Taipei, Tawan 🙂 I bet they’d really not like being called China. 24 hr World championships is there.
    This band is really good, thanks for bringing attention!
    And for still writing. Gosh, blogs are the best. Not Insta, not FB, not X. Blogs. Free flowing of “handwriting”.

  4. Jess says:

    My husband found The Hu on YouTube a few years ago, which led him to Heilung, an “experimental folk music” group. We were able to see them in concert when they came to the US last year, and the show was… something else. (Also, one of our fave YT channels, The Charismatic Voice, has done reactions and breakdowns of a few of their songs – worth a watch if you like music but don’t necessarily understand the mechanics!)

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