DZ Deathrays - McHugh's, Belfast
DZ Deathrays, The Alice Kona Band
24th May 2012
As we’re currently in the middle of a heatwave, it is only sensible to seek shelter from the sun. That we’re lurking in a basement bar and its night-time is irrelevant – its shelter and mine’s a pint while you’re asking.
Our headliners this evening will, of course, be well used to warm weather (cliché alert) as they’re Aussies. Indeed, they’re enamoured by their surroundings, revelling in playing in a venue that they admit is “like 100 years older than our country.”
I doubt that The Alice Kona Band are as old as either the bar or Australia, but they’re imbued with the vitality of their relative youth. They’re from the guitar pop tradition, and confirm their local-ness by complaining about the heat in-between punk-poppy songs – punk-pop in the sense that they’re punky but catchy, like The Clash, Stiff Little Fingers or Richard Hell.
'Breakdown' in particular recalls the aforementioned punk godfathers, while their “song about sharks” shimmers with it’s pop credentials in the same manner as The Replacements – slightly messy and not quite perfect but all the better for it, a vibe continued with ‘Bad Dreams’, their next single. It’s lads with guitars, not doing lad-rock, but doing something not overly nasty or pretentious, but just good music. It worked for plenty before and it might work for these guys.
As has been said, DZ Deathrays have travelled a long way to get here, from Brisbane in fact. The question is did they bring some good music as well as good weather? As a two-piece there is an obvious White Stripes comparison and, like them, they do nasty blues rock and roll but even dirtier and rawer. It's nearer The Stooges if we’re searching for a Detroit antecedent. It’s primal, pounding and battering.
‘The Man That I Am’ is pounding, methodical and military in its relentlessness, with riff after riff. Arguably they’re limited by the two-piece set-up, but the sleaze is so infectious that it’s impossible not to be drawn into it until the realisation that they’ve made a virtue of the repetition and constraints. By incorporating loops and effects and stripping down the vocals to barked lines, the blues-rock mutates into something more suitable for the dance-floor. It’s not subtle but the big heavy 4/4 beats and big hooky riffs and repeated slaps round the face vocals are the sort of thing that 2ManyDJs/Soulwax would use and abuse in the same way that they helped cross-over The Gossip’s ‘Standing In The Way Of Control.’ We’re still not sure what a DZ Deathray is exactly, but we like it.