At last I got to see DENSE play live, and as a bonus at their single launch gig – ‘Fever Dream’ (read our review). I’ve loved the music the band have released for ages but never quite managed to get see them live. Seeing them live answered some questions I had lurking in random places in my head.
First band on – King Orange – were new to me. They’re also one of those hard to pin down style wise bands. They describe themselves as post-punk, and I won’t argue with that. Except it’s all kinds of post-punk – there are vocals that sometimes reminded me of The Associates, sometimes that are vaguely, very vaguely, goth. And yep there’s that strident post-punk bass and guitar. And it’s loud, joyfully wonderfully loud. But, and it’s a big but, their songs have tunes, surprising catchy tunes in places. Somebody I spoke to said they sounded post-punk but kinda crossed with indie, I get what they were saying.
‘But enough of this you trying to work out quite what King Orange play, tell us whether they were any good’ I hear you say. The simple answer is that they were good, very good. This is yet another band I have marked out as one I’d like to see again. It’s that mix of stuff going on in their songs you see, I love bands who mix it up. This might come as a relief to their drummer who I told I was a reviewer and he thought I was joking, when there were only about two people in room before they started, and he said it was like an assessment.
Magick Mountain gave us a set of all kinds of garage – they edged at times towards space-rock, acid-rock and weird out there 60s psychy pop. Not all at the same time of course. There are two things I really loved about the band. Firstly their songs have tunes, as well as being loud and raucous, and secondly, I loved the dual voices they sometimes use.
So much did I enjoy Magick Mountain that I’m afraid the ‘I just got engrossed and didn’t take many notes’ excuse is going to be employed. I did, of course, take notice of the fact that this is a band who know their stuff musically – there was some really nice guitar going on, the bass was cool, and their drummer is fab.
You like loud raucous garage rock, go see Magick Mountain.
And so to DENSE. You may remember I said seeing them answered some questions. The main question was whether three people playing live could reproduce what they sound like on their releases. The answer to this is yes, very much so, they can.
DENSE, under dim red lights, played with barely a pause, one song bled into another. That tsunami of sound was overwhelming. There were brief respites from the dense multi-layered sound during songs but these only provide an all too short respite before that wonderful noise falls down and down on you. At the end of the set I, and a couple of people I spoke too, were battered. I actually felt drained. But the thing is that it’s incredible, that wave upon wave of noise and sound is amazing.
Look, if DENSE are new to you there Facebook Page describes them as Psychedelic Garage Rock, but this is insufficient, it doesn’t tell you that their music is huge and loud and multi-layered, that the different sounds merge and make new sounds.
But seeing them live, and tearing my head away from the sonic depths for moments during the set, I saw how each member of the band contributes. Charlie produces these wonderful guitar sounds in this really calm way over on one side of the stage, and singing in a way which I couldn’t tell if it’s purely him, or he uses vocal fx, those vocals are demented at times, actually most of the time. Dylan throws himself all over the stage, bass flying, quite how he manages to play the bass and do that is difficult to work out at times. And Sam, now I might be especially keen on drumming, but his drumming while loud and fast is incredibly precise, and DENSE’s songs have some really complicated drumming, it’s not all trash away at the rums as fast and as hard as you can. This combined is the DENSE live experience.
And it’s thrilling. The music has a physical presence. The music takes over your head and takes you to another place, you are drawn into it, deeper and deeper as the set goes on. So yes, that sound batters you, it does strange things to your ears, but it’s wonderful, gloriously wonderful. Everyone should see DENSE live at least once. Me, I’ll be there the next time, that sound is addictive.
All photos on this page © Frank Roper Photography – see more on his Facebook Page