The St Moritz club is named after a part of the world more normally associated with Swiss efficiency.
I don’t approve. To paraphrase Orson Welles, what did 500 years of peace get Switzerland? The cuckoo clock? I can only assume the name for this venue is somewhat ironic, as the St Moritz club, Soho is a cave of a place less than fifteen feet wide and is the first venue I have been to where it was so chaotic that the air conditioning unit was dripping over the drum kit so much that they had to stop the show to stem the flow by stuffing it with kitchen roll, and the audience kicked over the only microphone stand mid-concert. You don’t get that watching Mumford and Sons at the O2 Arena.
In other words, it’s just about the best venue you could possibly imagine to see a rock band.
The sweat that clung to the walls reminded me of The Marquee – a venue that used to exist little more than a hundred yards from here, some twenty five years ago.
All of this, of course, is no use at all unless there’s a great band to play there. Happily, last night the Swiss peace of St Moritz was shattered by a brilliantly noisy band called Drenge.
In case they have passed you by, here’s a quick cut out and keep briefing on Drenge to impress your friends and save you the trouble of clicking through to Wikipedia:
- Drenge consist of two people: Brothers Eoin (guitar, vocals) and Rory (drums) Loveless. They come from Castleton, Derbyshire and yes, those are their real names.
- Their self titled debut album was released 19th August 2013 on the Infectious label – the same label as Alt-J. It mixes brattish, darkly humourous lyrics with Kyuss / Queens of the Stone Age / White Stripes riffery played by a two piece, slightly chaotic, feedback-drenched garage band. It’s one of the best albums of the year so far.
- Name-checked a few months ago by a labour politician – resigning election co-ordinator Tom Watson MP whose advice to labour leader Ed Milliband was that whilst he should be a great leader of the Labour Party, he should “try to have a real life too. And if you want to see an awesome band, I recommend Drenge”. This remains the least interesting thing about the band Drenge.
- Except that Drenge is the Danish word for “boy”.
- They produce their own (free) fanzine. In it they ask “Aren’t you meant to be a bit more exciting London? Or a little lively? Well, I guess that’s why we’re playing these shows in Soho, Dalston + Camden – so you’ll at least have something to talk about when you’re off on your big red buses to Buckingham Palace.” Nice.
Their lyrics speak of teenage frustration and boredom. Exhibit 1: “People in Love Make Me Feel Yuck”. Best of all is an inspired twist on the classic Willie Dixon song called “I Don’t Want To Make Love To You” where Eoin tells a girl “I don’t want you to give me a kiss / because I don’t want to put you through this / there is something I’ve got to do because / I don’t want to make love to you”. It’s not a song I can see Diet Coke using in one of their adverts as a soundtrack to a stripping gardener / window cleaner etc, although that’s Coke’s loss.
There’s a vein of dark humour running through the album, but never enough to blunt what is otherwise a fairly disillusioned, snarky point of view. Drenge haven’t presented a solution to the world’s ills. They’re just telling us how they feel. That’s compelling enough on the QOTSA-like “I Want To Break You In Half” and the tuned-down Kyuss riffs of “Backwaters” and “Gun Crazy”.
Live, they are even better. In the most brilliantly grotty club imaginable they absolutely rocked, showed significant potential to sway any unbelievers and conjured a swarming mosh pit. On a Tuesday night in a cynical London, that’s quite a feat. They were great.
We all have busy lives. Kids, hectic jobs, responsibilities. Not all of us can be seen in grotty Soho clubs listening to bands. It is terribly sad that this is true. So: be great at what you do. Raise your kids, have a fulfilling and enterprising career. But try to have a real life too. And if you want to see an awesome band, I recommend Drenge.
Record #230 Drenge – Face Like A Skull
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