Monday 6 January 2014

Dressmaker, Skinny Girl Diet and Abjects at Barfly - 03 January 2014

Dressmaker letting rip. Pic by Keira Anee

And a Happy New Year to you too.

I start 2014 in the dark black box that is the Barfly, a room that has never seen daylight, or this evening, a drinkable lager.

Things get off to a good start with a set from Abjects. They are a trio of diverse origins (Italian, Spanish, Japanese) and diverse appearance (bassist Yuki in a 60's go-go number, drummer Alice in refined 70's evening garb and singer/guitarist Noemi in an 80's creation).  These disparate elements come together to make a very acceptable whole.

Abjects are affiliated to the Haus of Pins collective, and share a love of surfy, garage rock. I don't think that they are tearing up any trees just yet, but they are fun to be with and there is much to enjoy.

Skinny Girl Diet need no introduction to regular readers. Tonight they are utterly in command and on top of their game.

I continue to love Delilah's snarling vocals. She sneers and rolls her lyrics around her mouth until they are all but incomprehensible, but it works because hers is a rasp of pure rock attitude.

I'm particularly struck this evening by drummer Ursula. In the roughly two years that I have been aware of the band she has matured from an apparently quiet and dreamy presence in the background to a fully fledged rock drummer, tonight clearly relishing the chance to play on the larger kit that the band are sharing with the headliners.

Bassist Amelia has also changed. When I first saw her she seemed so tiny that she appeared dwarfed by her instrument. Now she is a confident leather-clad figure who occasionally screams so loud that your teeth rattle.

The set is powerful and punchy and blows away any remaining post-New Year cobwebs.

Looking at the stage set up for Dressmaker, who are the last band of the evening, a colleague remarks that it is becoming increasingly rare to see a group that employ a lead vocalist who doesn't play an instrument but performs purely as a front man.

Dressmaker hit the stage in a welter of noise and flashing lights. They are loud, uncompromising and at least to start with, a bit of a mess. The singer careens around, his vocals phased and distorted to a buzzing echo. It's certainly arresting, but rather a blur of formless noise.

Things come more into focus as the set progresses and the band gradually assert themselves as purveyors of a pretty decent industrial rock sound. By the final number, the strobe lights are pulsing as the singer screams on his knees with the rest of the band disappearing into the darkness one by one. We are eventually left with a bare stage and a feeling that, in the end, we rather enjoyed that.

So, 2014 is off to a bang. Onwards, onwards.