Deap Valley & Drenge: Queens Social Club, Sheffield

Fucking rock’n’roll bands, there’s just not enough of them in the world, is there?’ – You may be right Lindsey Troy of Deap Valley. You may be correct, but they’re filling up Queens Social Club tonight. Fucking rock’n’roll band number one: Swanton Bombs.

I have a habit of slagging off bands from London and unconditionally praising bands from Sheffield (well, let’s say Yorkshire). Well here I go again. Although I’ll be clear: neither Drenge and Deap Valley pull a beautiful, immaculate flower out of their bums, tumescent with subtly and imagination. Swanton Bombs, although not the strongest band on the bill, try very hard to mix things up a bit, touching upon garage snarl, panic-stricken bloodless funk and wonky sections reminiscent of hit songwriting – they manage heavy helping of each in ‘Who’s Asking’ alone. Sometimes they’re play a great White Stripes track that Meg and Jack never got round to, at other times altrock’s cannibalistic distortion takes hold and they channel that torment. Each song is an (alternative) genre study, or three at once, so uncharitably I could say that there isn’t much music making or breaking going on, but Swanton Bombs at least have the keys to that still shocking rock’n’roll noise like Drenge and Deap Valley, even if style-hopping ne’er an identity make. Unless you’re Bowie. Catch 22 mate.

Deap Valley in a sentence – honeyed drug music. You’ve got songs built on a single incessant riff, in Lindsey Troy a singer of Joplin-esque power and washes of vocal hooks and harmonies. ‘This is our first time in Sheffield!’ Lindsey chipperly tell us; ‘Guess what I’m drinking? Coffee…’ drummer Julie Edwards teases between songs. This is a pop band, and a great one too, without the uncontrolled scree of the blues rock brutalists and swaggering riff after swaggering riff. Deap Valley do just one thing, and we all understand.

I sum Drenge up in a sentence but it’d be a really long one, full of parenthesis, subordinating clauses and sweary hyperbole. One interesting point is that Drenge carry themselves like invention isn’t an issue – they aren’t new or old. Guitar and drums, same as Deap Valley, same as Meg and Jack, but Drenge have studied unpolished to Deap Valley’s studied polish. They roam the stage, bark ‘I’ll make you piss your pants/Ill break you in half’ like a repressed playground nightmare, keep oppressive feedback ringing between songs, sing jilted blues rock, have forays into dysfunctional altpop and finish with an My Bloody Valentine-aping, eardrum-quaking, nervous breakdown. The finale, with the rising chromatics of a Bond tune, sounds like a last ditch shoot-out in a munitions dump, and not the good kind. Drenge do one thing really well, and I couldn’t quite understand it.

Drenge walk off, leaving agonising feedback behind them. If you’ve ever seen Dumb and Dumber, this is The Most Annoying Sound In The World. Brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless are truly living up to their namesake.

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