Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Deap Vally at Dingwalls, Camden Lock, 27th February 2013

My love of badass bitches that play rock n roll like demons and don’t give a fuck is well documented. So perhaps it was inevitable that I’d very much enjoy a Deap Vally gig..  Hailing from sunny California, Deap Vally are Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards who met, improbably, at a needlework class.  Soon they discovered they had more in common besides a shared passion for decorative sewing and the textile arts: namely blasting out gritty, raw as hell, bluesy rock n roll.  

Dingwalls was jammed to the rafters last night, and although I missed much of support bands Drenge and Death at Sea I wasn’t too bothered.  While the venue was pretty full there wasn't a huge amount of liveliness about, but maybe it's because of the low stage - unless you’re in the front few rows you aren’t going to see much.  Fortunately, after some snake-like wiggling I worked my way near the front, where I found myself surrounded by shrieking scene girls to my left, hooting drunks to the right and a slightly out of place looking guy in his 60s in front of me. A mixed crowd.

Deap Vally (picture by Rob Barton)
Musically, Deap Vally owe a huge debt to the White Stripes.  This isn’t to say they’re ripping them off (can you really “rip off” a formula as simple as guitar and drums?), but in the stomping drums and distorted riffs there’s echoes of the unpretentious, raw musicality you hear on White Blood Cells.  This is the kind of rock I want to see: short songs, powerful riffs, and, in the nicest possible way, uncomplicated.  When I say that I want to make clear I’m not putting them down, but musically and lyrically Deap Vally aren’t the most complex band around.  And thank god for that.

This is music to tumble around an poorly lit underground bar to, to feel the slight tug of the sticky booze-stained linoleum on your boots when you jump into the air.  One highlight of the set was the awesome Gonna Make My Own Money.  The song springs with the kind of buzzing energy that you hear in mid 90s riot grrl like Bikini Kill, and when Lindsey screws  up her face in perfect punk rock angst, yowling the titular lyrics into the mic, it made me want to jump around like a big idiot.

Lindsey Troy  (picture by Rob Barton)
With all this energy radiating from the stage it was disappointing that the audience was so damn static.  Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the previous night’s Brooke Candy gig, but dammit, if there’s music like this playing I want to see greasy looking Camden teenagers shoving each other around.  But for the vast majority of the gig the crowd just stood around as if they were waiting for a bus rather than at a gig.  Things picked up a bit at the end of the set, with End of the World finally succeeding in kicking it up a notch, a transformative moment signalled by a sweaty girl unexpectedly landing on my head.  Deap Vally’s music really seems to come alive when there’s people going bananas to it; pounding, metronomic booms that tickle the primitive reptilian areas of the brain.  This short 3 or 4 minute burst of liveliness is the most fun I have in the gig, and from the grins and smiles on everyone else’s face, the most fun they do to.

Julie Edwards (picture by Rob Barton)
Between songs, both Lindsey and Julie are effortlessly comfortable on stage, looking pleased with both the reactions and size of the crowd.  When the introduction to Raw Material, a new song, has a technical hitch resulting in a squeal of unpleasant feedback, they play it off as a technical issue and joke about it until it’s fixed.  Later they crack a joke about Camden, pretty astutely commenting “didn’t this place used to be cool once?”.  The only downside to the gig was some god-damn morons standing near the back yelling out “show us your tits” between songs.  These gits need a fork in the eye, but fortunately the music drowned them out.  If the band did hear them they're too classy to acknowledge their presence.  

After End of the World Deap Vally left the stage to rapturous applause, yet ominously the house lights stay down and there’s still a faint thrum from the speakers.  Sure enough, after just long enough for me to start doubting whether I’m hanging around pointlessly the two come back in stage, launching into a sleazy, grimey cover of I Put a Spell on You.  They knock it out of the park hitting just the right combination of sleazy, sinister sexiness that the song needs.  The perfect capper to the night.

 (picture by Rob Barton)
Like I said, give me a stage of badass women rocking the fuck out and chances are I’ll have a whale of a time.  Deap Vally kicked ass in a refreshingly straightforward manner.  A streamlined gig that was cool as hell.

Deap Vally are playing across the UK until the 7th - details here. Big thanks to Rosie for the ticket!

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