There are no queues, no touts, no streetshirt vendors and not many bodies occupying the ten meters of lifeless space that separate the bar in London’s oldest student union from the stage. And as Dead Confederate take up arms with a resigned saunter to match an indifferent audience, tonight treads an embarrassingly fine line between empty and intimate as preliminary sound issues mar proceedings. Help surprisingly comes from three photographers, who although not fighting for elbow space, unconsciously add kudos to the raw and unspoilt talent that leaves unwanted comparisons begging as a mauling of instruments alongside a delicious cousin fucking vocal release the full potential of ‘Start Me Laughing’, ‘The Rat’, ‘Goner’ and ‘Tortured Artist Saint’ before Dead Confederate exit stage with the confident indifference of job well done.
As Darker My Love arrive with a clutch of semi-psychedelic rock, the once almost lifeless floor-space has swelled to an overspill of bodies and with the LA based five-piece claiming former members of The Nerve Agents, The Distillers and The Fall among them, little time is wasted in presenting an immersive set that resonates with the stylistic leftovers of the British Invasion. Heavy with ambition, short sharp retro fit riffs, a paired sharing of vocal duties and a collectively coiffured gentrification all add to the pace and urgency of ‘Blue Day’, ‘Summer Is Here’ and ‘Helium Heels’ which with enough disoriented attention to detail gets reassuringly lost in the noise, staying on the right side of polished and prescribed.
With pungent anticipation shrouding the stage, whatever might be happening in the outside world is made wholly irrelevant. A Place To Bury Strangers don’t play music, they bleed huge concrete slabs of it, reinventing the wall of sound with defiant and imposing exploitation as expected of a band dubbed New York’s loudest. What isn’t expected is the torrent of audio abuse unleashed away from the manipulation of studio wizardry and the justice done to ‘Missing You’, ‘Don’t Think Lover’ and ‘To Fix The Gash In Your Head’ through a roaring array of effects pedals. Their concentrated musicality is so intense that unwanted feedback and implicit intention melt into a wash of calculation through ‘Ocean’, ‘Breathe’ and ‘Half Awake’. And as Oliver Ackermann falls to his knees in a frenzied fit of self-hypnosis, it would seem that this particular deafening master-class is as self-serving as it is public property.