Posts Tagged ‘Dead Naked Hippies’

It’s the night before payday and I’m skint. I should probably be at home, sifting through the mountain of review submissions that have crashed into my inbox while I’ve been at work. I should probably be doing myriad other things. But having caught Dead Naked Hippies for the first time in Leeds a few months ago, I vowed to see them again at the first opportunity, and given that this was a free-entry show at a venue above a WMC two minutes’ walk from my house, there was no way I was going to miss this. And with bottles of Timothy Taylors’ Landlord at £3.20 a bottle, it wasn’t going to be a complete overdraft-smasher.

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I often experience a strange sense of déjà-vu, but tonight, I suffer a deep sense of disorientation on finding the room I’d previously watched bands perform in full of chairs, so I continue on up and lo, there’s a cluster of people, some of whom I recognise. Dave, aka Washing Machine Repair Man, who runs Young Thugs Records and it at the helm of the activities surrounding the Hovel – which is above a WMC in York’s South Bank, gives me a bit of a tour and shows me some of the changes they’ve made since I last visited. It’s impressive: the studio is now in a large, and rather plush room, and he’s excited about the potential of what was – and is, where he’s yet to begin work – a dilapidated but substantial space with a number of rooms.

And so I find myself in a room I’d previously sat in as a studio-in-progress, repurposed as a sort of rehearsal space with lights, before some kind of weird Japanese-made electronic organ / synth contraption from the early 80s. A dude in a cropped jumper and sporting a neatly-trimmed beard bounds about flamboyantly and chats entertainingly between songs played by the trio on said instrument. He’s accompanied by and shares vocal duties with a curly-topped chap in a bobble hat and a super-bouncy female singer / keyboardist in glasses. They sings off-kilter songs with pithy lyrics and groovesome rhythms and a certain retro vibe, which build a sort of narrative across the set. Welcome to the world of Drooligan. I haven’t quite made up my mind yet, but tonight they delivered something special, something engaging, something different. And something different is rare, which makes this quite the compliment.

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Drooligan

Being a small room, it doesn’t take many (half a dozen?) to make it feel quite full, and for it to get quite warm, and to describe the atmosphere of a gig venue smaller than my living room as intimate would be as weak an understatement as describing the sun as ‘quite warm’ or Brexit as ‘not the best idea ever’. But then, the Hovel Sessions aren’t really gigs in the conventional sense: the shows are filmed and serve more as a showcase performance and an ‘experience’ than your usual setup.

Casting sheets of paper to his feet like brutal and chunky confetti, live, clothed punk poet Henry Raby seems to have been taking performance tips from yours truly, and one of the three new pieces aired tonight takes cues in the opening segment from criminally underrated local performer Lawrence O’Reilly – but then, creativity in the postmodern age is all about drawing material from a wide range of sources and intertextuality isn’t simply about what’s written, and Henry’s style seems to be evolving. The last time I saw him was at that Dream Nails gig in a 400-capacity venue. It’s often more difficult to perform to a small audience, especially in a small space, but a seasoned performer, he does a decent job of it, firing out nuggets of socio-political commentary with energy.

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Henry Raby

Dead Naked Hippies are touring hard at the moment, and it was the fact I landed ‘Drain You’ for review last year that made me prick up my ears in the first place, before checking them out at The Belgrave Music all and Canteen supporting DZ Deathrays recently that ultimately brought me here tonight. As much as the music and the songs themselves, it was the band’s intensity – especially the electrical energy of Lucy Jowett – that makes them such a compelling act. Off stage, testing their snooker-playing skills, they’re an affable bunch, but give them instruments and amps and the fiery angst explodes instantly. The lumbering groove of new release ‘Rare’ sits neatly alongside the grungy ‘I Wanna Know Ya’ and some simple-but-effective rabble-rousing anti-work sloganeering.

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Dead Naked Hippies

It’s a fairly short set, but this much spikiness needs to be dispatched hard and fast for optimal impact. And in such a tiny space, the intensity is amplified. Maximum intensity: optimal impact. Blistering.

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Christopher Nosnibor

Four years on from Black Rat and DZ Deathrays return to the UK touring album number three, Bloody Lovely. Granted, the York show at The Woolpack with a capacity of maybe 70 on their last visit to these shores was one of the more intimate, but it’s clear from tonight’s turnout and reception that they’ve significantly expanded their fan-base in the intervening time.

Those who turned up in reasonable time got a real treat in the form of opening support act Dead Naked Hippies, who caught my attention a few months ago with the release of ‘Drain You’ on a split 12”.  The Leeds art-rock trio, consisting of drums / guitar / vocal kick some serious arse. The guitar sound is dirty, a little bit messy, but works well in contrast with the crisp drum work. It’s Lucy Jowett who really commands the attention, though, lunging and stomping about the stage, wide-eyed and crackling with tension. They’re already going places, and were worth the entry fee alone.

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Dead Naked Hippies

Touring support These New South Whales come on, shirts off and electrical tape over their nipples, looking dangerous and introduce themselves with some angular, grinding guitars, with menacing vocals pitch-shifted down. The stage half-obscured by a thick smog, they then proceed to slash and thrash their way through a sweaty, high-octane set. They may have their own show on Comedy Central, but they take the performance of their fast, furious, bass-driven art-punk seriously. It’s pretty fucking intense.

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These New South Whales

DZ Deathrays have really honed their live sound and the material from Bloody Lovely – which accounts for over half the set – is delivered with real attack. With the album having been out a full six months already, it’s had time to bed in with the fans, and a good segment of the crowd sing along with every song. Others just go nuts, with a mosh-pit seven rows deep and crowd-surfing commencing early.

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DZ Deathrays

Said new material pushes further into melodic territory, but the tunefulness is still driven by big, fat, fizzy riffs. Impressively, they maintain the high energy level throughout the set, with no let up in tempo (you’re not going to get a mid-set lighter-waving slowie or an acoustic breakdown with DZ Deathrays).

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DZ Deathrays

They throw ‘Reflective Skull’ from Black Rat in early, saving ‘Gina Works at Hearts’ for near the end. The crowd goes ballistic – with a crowd surge causing the band to briefly stop to make sure someone wasn’t too badly hurt – and rounding off with ‘Like People’ and ‘Ocean Exploder’ for the final salvoes, it all adds up to a blistering set.

With three cracking bands, a corking headline set, and a great vibe all round, it’ll probably go down as one of the gigs of 2018.