Review: Drenge – Electric Ballroom, London (9/10)

Tuesday 21st of April saw one of the nation’s brightest rock bands, Drenge, bring their chaotic live show to Electric Ballroom in Camden for their biggest headline show to date. This tour in support of new album Undertow also sees the band, consisting of the two Loveless brothers (Eoin on guitar and Rory on drums) joined by new member and friend of the band, Rob Graham, formerly the bassist of the band Wet Nuns. Following the band’s highly successful run of festival shows last summer, the band has built up a strong fan base and with pre-album singles We Can Do What We Want, Favourite Son and Never Awake offering fans insight into what looked to be a promising new album, tickets to the show sold out fast. Having already experienced the carnage that is a Drenge gig once before at the Reading Festival last summer (where I witnessed possibly the biggest mosh pit I have seen, literally taking up the majority of the Radio 1/NME tent, for Let’s Pretend) this was a must and an opportunity to get to know their newer material before I undoubtedly experience them again at one of the many festivals they are performing at in what looks to be another packed summer schedule for one of the UK’s hardest working rock bands.

One of the main draws for a Drenge concert is the way that they manage to instil the energy of their songs into the crowd, creating such an electric atmosphere. The Wall of sound that the band manage to create for a three-piece is truly quite astonishing, putting to shame most bands of much larger scale, sort of like Royal Blood’s angrier more anarchic younger brother. You have to in a way have empathy for Drenge in the fact that they were somewhat elbowed out the way in Royal Blood’s fast track to success as a hard rock, mosh pit inducing two-piece, however it doesn’t seem as if the Loveless brothers or their hardcore fan base care much for this and are more focused on creating some of the year’s dirtiest and hardest riffs.

The venue filled quickly as support act PINs (an all girl band from Manchester) were first to take to stage, impressing the crowd with their bratty attitude and hook laden tunes, certainly one took look out for in the future. Rock-pop band Big Deal swiftly followed, being as equally well-recieved and performing deeply layered rock tracks, warming the crowd up well with their big choruses. Before, Drenge even took to the stage the venue was rammed with people pushing towards stage with anticipation and chants of ‘We want Drenge’ echoing throughout the hyped up crowd. The band kicked off with the first track off of the new album, Running Wild, which saw menacing riffs cause the crowd to erupt into a hysterical frenzy. This was followed by the frenetic claps of new album track Side by Side and mosh pit friendly Gun Crazy off of their previous self-titltled debut album. The atmosphere was only heightened by big single Nothing, which saw the already sweaty crowd hit boiling point and the first of the crowd surfers go up and Eoin screamed the vocals with anarchic relish. It was crunching riff after crunching riff, especially after the band went into a foursome of riotous anthems that included;  Backwaters, We Can Do What We Want, I Wanna Break You in Half and BloodsportsBloodsports possibly the band’s biggest song, was a particular highlight providing huge crowd singalongs and crashing drum symbols.

The live show intersects well between Drenge’s self-titled debut and latest album Undertow, with the band delivering their monolithic riffs and storming drums with a vigour thats been fine tuned over years of hard touring. Another particular standout moment in the thrilling live show was the change in pace that occurred with new album anthem Standing in the Cold. A song that can compare with the epic Fuckabout on their previous album (another song that evoked huge singalongs). Standing in the Cold was a track from Undertow that I was relatively unfamiliar with before the gig, however the slow burning menace of the Loveless’ vocals and emotion-tinged vocals transitioned extraordinarily well to their live performance and resulted in one of the gig’s standout moments. And of course as was the case in their pre-Undertow shows they ended on the raucous climax of first album favourites Fuckabout, followed by Let’s Pretend, a huge ending despite the success of Undertow. The slow emphatic build-up of the latter makes it a mosh-pit crazed conclusion to an already hectic show, allowing for the musical talents and chemistry between the three band members shine through in all its grungy glory.

One of the the biggest things that stood out to my brother and I when looking about the crowd at Electric Ballroom was the variety of different types of fans the band attracted, with many older music lovers spotted amongst the angsty teens. Many would also assume it to be a male-domianted environment due to the nature of their live shows, however there was about a 50/50 split between both genders, proving the diverse appeal of Drenge. The band’s immense chemistry and love for the chaos that they create is what makes their shows so electric and talked about in music circles, even in spite of the minimal participation with crow. The Loveless brothers very much do their own thing and with great style and passion and that is what makes them on of the best live bands in the country right now!

Setlist:

  1. Running Wild
  2. Side by Side
  3. Gun Crazy
  4. Nothing
  5. The Snake
  6. Backwaters
  7. We Can Do What We Want
  8. I Wanna Break You in Half
  9. Bloodsports
  10. Favourite Son
  11. Standing in the Cold
  12. Undertow
  13. Never Awake
  14. Face Like a Skull
  15. Fuckabout
  16. Let’s Pretend
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