Artist: DZ Deathrays
Support Acts: Table Scraps & Hyena
Venue: The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham, UK
Date: 27th September 2014
We love an intimate gig as much as the next person but there’s something particularly claustrophobic about The Sunflower Lounge’s basement gig spot. We’d wager the room this review is being written in is almost as big – and this a two bedroom flat! The Sunflower Lounge’s confined walls are the perfect setting for a night of rock ‘n’ roll thrills and spills with DZ Deathrays as the icing on the proverbial cake. Before the Aussie twosome lay waste to the Birmingham pub, it’s up to Telford troop, Hyena and noisy local duo, Table Scraps to grease the wheels and kickstart some sweaty bedlam.
WWPSM arrive as Hyena are in full swing and on first impressions, the four piece could have been any indie band in the mid/late 00’s boom of guitar slingers. But, we’d like to attempt judging the quartet on first impressions is pretty naïve as once Hyena lurch away from the jingle-jangle of indie and crank up the QOTSA-style desert rock, there’s a robust, meaty quality to their aural DNA. The further the Telford band delve into dirty riffs and strutting rock ‘n’ roll the better, as like their name suggests, this band sound better scavenging for bloody morsels and just being the right side of feral. They also boast a charismatic frontman to boot, in Jacob Ball. This is a man with the bone structure of Suede’s Brett Anderson (in his heyday) and the floppy hair to match. Ball commands the crowd with his in-between song banter and remains a key focal point throughout Hyena’s short support slot. Later we find out that this is Hyena’s first Birmingham show, as last month the band called time on their previous incarnation, Weatherbird. Here’s hoping the Telford boy’s second life ushers in the plaudits it deserves.
Dirtier, louder and altogether a more menacing prospect are Table Scraps. With a sound that melds grunge and the acrid onslaught of Josh Homme’s desert dwellers, this power duo cut rock ‘n’ roll back to its muscular sinews but don’t scrimp on the volume levels. They’re a formidable live spectacle too, with drummer/vocalist, Poppy Twist looking bizarrely delighted to be pummelling her stand up kit, whilst vocalist and “guitar abuser”, Scott Vincent Abbott, has a tractor-beam stare that pierces right through your soul. Equally, Abbott’s guttural howl is akin to a solid diet of garbling drawing pins, washed down by cheap-ass whiskey. Table Scraps blast through a violent range of animalistic rock ‘n’ roll nuggets, which seem to take on a life of their own, as Abbott goes off on guitar slaying tangents, keeping Twist on her toes. The two piece’s set is brought to a close by Abbott plunging through the middle of the amassed throng like a hot knife through butter, knocking a press photographer out the way and several pints of beer. Then Abbott and Twist collapse on the floor, utterly spent from delivering a set of sweat-soaked brilliance.
Temperature levels are now pushing towards the tropical and there’s a heady whiff of booze in the air. The scene is well and truly set for DZ Deathrays to get up close and personal with the grubby contingent within The Sunflower Lounge’s meagre walls. Shane Parsons (vocals and guitar) and Simon Ridley (drums) meander through the dancefloor and without hesitation launch into ‘No Sleep’. The tracks urgent bark and razor bite kicks off the first of many (and when we say many, we mean shitloads) life threatening moshpits. From here on in, DZ act as the fire and their Brummie fans are the petrol – you could say they both get on like a house on fire. With every blast of scuzzy thrash pop, the pits get bigger and wilder, with proportions of the throng scaling the hands of their peers for some death defying crowd surfing and few aborted attempts at stage diving. The look on Parsons’ face is that of pure glee as he witnesses the carnage unfolding in front of him. This is a band who cut their teeth on berserk house parties – ultimately DZ were born to obliterate a small room full of pissed up revellers.
Tonight sees the Brisbane posse smash through cuts from debut LP, ‘Bloodstreams’ and sophomore effort ‘Black Rat’. However it’s early track ‘Teeth’ from the ‘DZ Deathrays Ruined My Life EP’ that prompts widespread chaos. This is all down to Ridley’s wild tub-thumping, coupled with Parsons’ raucous scream over serrated guitar riffs. The band’s latest cuts are custom built for climes such as this, with the added hip hop bounce of ‘Black Rat’ and ‘Reflective Skull’ adding an elastic throb to the madcap behaviour down the front. While ‘Less Out Of Sync’s schizo detonations leaves utter devastation in its wake and there’s nothing that can prepare you for ‘Ocean Exploder’s immense impact, you’ve just got to ride its tsunami and hope for the best.
‘Gina Works At Hearts’ brings The Sunflower Lounge to its knees and everyone is left to wonder quite how we all survived. The main thing is no-one got hurt…apart from the dude that epically face planted with a failed stage dive…oh and the guy who fell to the floor and ended up with the whole crowd on top of him. Oh, our eardrums are pretty fucked too. Screw ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’ – DZ Deathrays can have a permeant residence at WWPSM Towers if they want – the neighbours would bloody love it!
Photography by Naomi Abbs