Deap Vally @ Night & Day Cafe, Manchester – 26/07/16
“People pay money to see others believe in themselves,” claimed Kim Gordon on the topic of live music in her autobiography Girl In A Band. She’s right, of course, and if performers are successful at believing in themselves, this, in turn, makes the attendees believe in themselves too. And that is exactly what I – and presumably most of the crowd – felt after leaving Deap Vally’s gig. Like I could conquer the world. That is the true mark of what makes a live show powerful and necessary.
This Manchester date at the esteemed Night & Day Café was part of Deap Vally’s mini tour ahead of the release of second album Femejism this September. The Los Angeles duo quickly rose to prominence with their debut record Sistrionix (2013), which showcased their uncompromising style of heavy, bluesy garage-rock. Normally Night & Day Café doesn’t seem like a particularly small venue since it tends to hold new, local artists. But Deap Vally are a force of nature. The show sold out very soon after tickets went on sale, and with the crowd packed in like sardines, this bar suddenly seems miniscule. I wonder if it will survive Deap Vally.
To test Gordon’s hypothesis, opening band The Cut, from Glasgow, are pretty much the opposite of the kind of band you would pay money for. Half-hearted, lacking conviction, lacking belief. Or maybe they’re just too young and self-conscious to show it yet. After their set, the crowd of twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings excitedly gather towards the stage and the heat rises dramatically. I’m wondering if being third row from the front was the best idea.
As soon as Deap Vally steps on stage, the ecstatic atmosphere reaches breaking point before they even play a note. They launch into hits from their debut such as ‘Bad For My Body,’ ‘Make My Own Money’ and ‘Lies.’ It’s not long before they play tunes from their upcoming album – a “sneak preview” singer/guitarist Lindsey Troy jokes. She dislikes wearing shoes onstage since it hinders mobility. This is a wise choice, since she can barely stay still for more than a second, full to the brim with energy, swinging her guitar around and screaming into the mic from every angle possible. Drummer Julie Edwards, meanwhile, owns the kit with a perfect balance of grace and force, her head robotically rocking back and forth, totally in her element.
Their music completely consumes the crowd. The sheer warmth of the place helps to transcend the gig out of reality and we become entrapped in a safe noisy bubble. It’s the sort of gig that sends you dumbstruck into a daze and all you can respond to is primal rhythm.
Deap Vally’s feminism pretty much goes without saying: you only have to hear the lyrics for ‘Smile More.’ Troy dedicates ‘Walk of Shame’ to all the women in the crowd, shortly after crowd-surfing whilst playing a tambourine. They shut things down with the hypnotic ‘Royal Jelly,‘ with Troy stood on Edwards’ bass drum for the opening riff.
Before this gig, I thought of Deap Vally as somewhat of a guilty pleasure. Now I can barely remember why. Their charm has completely won me over. Femejism looks to be very promising indeed, the songs perhaps being a little more dynamic and mature. The duo is touring the UK again this September and if you enjoy your face being melted off, I could not recommend them more.
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