Drenge at Bestival 2013

September 7, 2013

Drenge review – Bestival 2013

For a relatively short set, this is a performance besieged by problems. For those expecting things to come in threes, Drenge appear to rely on twos; two brothers, two instruments and two Bestival disasters.

Problem 1: An early mid-song climb to the drum riser culminates in a backwards slip and tumble over a monitor. Valiantly, singer/guitarist Eoin Loveless battles on, stroking the guitar figure whilst rooted on the floor. A stage hand tries to lift the microphone to the stranded member but to no avail. Back on his feet, what follows is a furious and impassioned ‘Bloodsports’ that sends much of the mosh pit into an out and out frenzy.

Problem 2: Later on, during ‘Let’s Pretend’, the guitar cable is knocked out of the of the guitar pedal, rendering the drums to continue unaccompanied. Whereas the earlier accident is embraced by crowd and artist alike, this seems to wrong foot everyone. The song is ground to a halt, paused, before kicking back in. It feels understandably awkward and the set struggles to quite recover as a result.

It is probably a fair assumption to see this accumulation as an aberration and an unfair reflection upon what is clearly a consummate group.

In between, before and after these glitches, Drenge do offer a compelling argument for guitar music. In tone, coruscating guitar passages reminiscent of J Mascis (minus the solos) are conjured. At other times, such as an initially plaintive and punctuated ‘Fuckabout’, there are shades of ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’-period Blur.

This writer saw fellow two-piece outfit the Black Keys in a tiny London venue on their second ever UK tour and although fantastic on record, they were not quite convincing as a live outfit. Unlike the Black Keys, Drenge immediately present an emphatically convincing live proposition, sounding fully formed. Their noise certainly belies their shy onstage persona. However, there is a danger of stylistic monotony with their relentless pursuit of washed-out distortion. Saying that, tonal consistency never did My Bloody Valentine, AC/DC or the Ramones any harm. Yet, in order stand out from the two-piece crowd and peers like Blood Red Shoes, they may be wise to temper this sometime further on down the road with some alterations to the method.

For now, Drenge get a lot of mileage out of their sparse, simple set-up. Together, the Loveless brothers kick up a wondrously powerful grunge-sodden storm.

Written by Greg Wetherall.

Drenge review – Bestival 2013

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