English rebel rouser Yungblud made his grand return to Boston on Sunday night with the intent of stirring up a whiplash-inducing show. The twenty five year old artist, named Dominic Harrison, has a long-standing affinity with the city that has always welcomed him with open arms. Past Boston shows have seen him performing an impromptu set in the crowded cluster of Landsdowne Street, playing the infamous Great Scott in a wheelchair, and now, he adds another triumphant set to the list with his raucous performance at MGM Music Hall at Fenway.
With support from pop-punk singer-songwriter Games We Play and L.A. punk rock chameleons The Regrettes, the packed MGM Music Hall was buzzing with adrenaline before the clock struck nine. Emerging from behind a screen displaying a silhouette alongside devil horns and angel wings, Yungblud’s presence was an indelible force that immediately amplified energy levels. The stage was adorned with scattered vandalized trash cans, one reading “fuck the NRA” in spray paint, referring to his song of the same title. The mood for nonconformity was set.
The beloved singer embraced his position at the head of the stage, taking a moment to survey the crowd before unleashing into his style of utter mayhem— an enticing chaos he has become infamous for. The wild ringleader of his own circus, he dove into the frenzied “21st Century Liability” off his 2018 album of that same name, leaping into the air and stimulating the already uproarious atmosphere.
Now celebrating the five year anniversary of his debut album, Yungblud originally broke through in the late 2010s with his unabashed sneer and poignant lyrics that reflected the perspectives of unheard voices and culturural injustices. Incorporating these themes into his brash blend of nu-metal, rap, reggae, and rock separates Yungblud from other rock artists of his generation, and his stage presence exemplifies this paradox. “The Funeral,” off his most recent eponymous album, turns to a peppy Iggy Pop-influenced, beat-heavy number that sparked dancing and joy from the eager crowd, ready for the catharsis to come. Persisting with the invigorating beat of “Tissues” which nods to the rhythm of the Cure’s “Close to Me,” it served as a lively reminder of Yungblud’s Brit-pop yearnings and genre fluidity.
Maneuvering a hop-jump romp across the stage, there was one glaring matter he was quick to address. Pointing to the fluorescent pink and blue tape holding his knee in place, he stated he injured it the night before in New Jersey and disregarded medical advice from his doctor, who was in attendance. (He later cheekily pointed him out with his Cheshire grin, knowing he was disobeying doctor’s orders.) “I was not gonna not play a fucking show in Boston! Boston is usually the best stop of the fucking tour, man!” Yungblud yelled with an urgency that continued to rile up the crowd. Injury aside, it did not hinder Yungblud’s performance as he recklessly thrashed with a deep possession from track to track.
Serving as a voice for the outcasts, tracks like “parents” and “fleabag” (which brought emphatic cheers of “hey” that rivaled Nirvana) cements Yungblud’s position and his outlaw, grandstanding rap-rock. Fans were utterly enthralled and eager to gain the artist’s attention with signs and attire garnered for his niche aesthetic of school boy punk. The fandom, a band of outcasts called the Black Hearts Club, is based on respect, acceptance, and love, which he reminds the crowd throughout various points of the show— that is, when he is not inciting chaos and encouraging the many children in the audience that it’s okay to swear at his shows, but not outside of them. It’s this good-hearted rambunctiousness and enduring sense of community that earmarks Yungblud shows.
With the anti-societal anarchy of a renegade, Yungblud embraces this rebellion with just the right amount of sincerity and camp. Aware he’s fulfilling the stereotype, his preached philosophy of freedom and loves trumps any preconceived notions of mimicry. Further, songs “Anarchist” and “Polygraph Eyes” show there’s more to Harrison’s music than brash teenage rebellion.
Bolstering his acoustic guitar for a rare performance of the deep cut “Polygraph Eyes” is a tender moment where he paused mid-song to testify the importance of speaking out against sexual assault. “I wanted to play this song for you tonight because this is our biggest and most important song. And to anybody out there who’s felt what this song is about, don’t let it define you. Your power is yours and yours alone. It doesn’t matter how much you drink, or how short your skirt is. That doesn’t mean consent. I fucking love you all so much,” he shouted with conviction to a crowd so quiet and consumed, you could hear a pin drop.
Reveling in the direction of gravity the show took, his candor continued. “Boston, you make me feel like there is fucking oxygen in this world,” he earnestly declared while his band played the soft instrumentals to the upcoming track. “When I first started Yungblud, I felt so lost and misunderstood in this world. I thought ‘I just wish I could find somebody who would think and behave like me.’ And guess what? I fucking did in each and every one of you! I know a lot of you feel judged and unheard and misunderstood and unimportant, but each and every fucking one of you is important!”
Following with the equally harmonious and gut-wrenching ballad “Sweet Heroine,” Yungblud stated it was inspired from his last trip to Boston, the city that also inspired “Sweet Caroline”. Introducing the track from his piano bench, he stated, “the lyric was written in Boston, man. Sing with me!” Cell phone flashlights illuminated the venue while the sweet voices of fans intermixed with the jaggedly coarse vocals of Yungblud, creating a beautiful harmony that perfectly reflected the sentiments of his live show.
Viewing “Yungblud” as an entity outside of himself, it’s clear that Harrison values his “family” as a partner in his success. Just over the show’s midway point, he took pause to encourage audience members to make friends with the strangers beside them, while prompting them to scream “I fucking love you!” because what is love if not slightly profane? His role as the grandmaster of his wildly rambunctious show unfolded in an incredibly interactive manner, even bringing a fan up on stage to choose which song to play. Between “Doctor Doctor” or “Die for the Hype,” she chose the latter and the crowd erupted in support for her pick.
Ending the main set with Machine Gun Kelly’s “I Think I’m OKAY,” a track which Yungblud and Travis Barker share a feature, the floor became a sea of bodies gyrating and releasing every pent-up emotion. Returning for two encore tracks and quick outfit change of a black Red Sox jersey, Yungblud expertly commanded the crowd with his Doncaster-lilt through hip-hop heavy single “Lowlife.” The set concluded with Yungblud pulling fans up onto the stage with him to dance and mosh to his 2019 single “Loner.” The ecstatic fans crowded the stage in the perfect juxtaposition to the song’s lyrical content, creating the perfect snapshot of music serving as a uniting force.
The lively show barely left a moment to come up for air as Yungblud dominated every moment of the set in an orchestrated, yet enjoyably organic production. Fully grasping the reigns of his power, Yungblud is a force to be reckoned with and at his highest powers on “The World Tour.” Come as you are; there’s a place for anyone at a Yungblud show.