With the last show of their EU/UK tour looming, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Australian best buds Dune Rats and DZ Deathrays would look to the North West’s finest LAD band for support. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: How do you make a good show great? Just add Grotbags!
I was filled with joy Monday evening, flicking aimlessly through Twitter to discover Grotbags had been added to the bill. The three bands together seemed the oddest combination, but much like dipping your chips into your milkshake at McDonalds, it ended up being a delicious union for all involved.
A horrendously loud strum (oo-er) ends up being the first note of the night, greeted by much disdain from the others in Grotbags; the drummer asking for much, much less guitar in his monitor before a song is even played. These chaps have fast become one of my favourite Manchester bands as of late, their mere presence on stage, having the crack, being enough to cause involuntary guffaws. A few weeks back at the sixth annual Carefully Planned Festival in Manchester, Grotbags set at 57 Thomas Street featured an inordinate amount of time hosting an impromptu Q and A. Five bags of popcorn for the patter alone.
Whilst their oeuvre might consist of tales of skipping work to play GTA V, nipping out for a pint at lunch (and cramming it into half hour), misspelled hook-up requests and fried eggs, it’s not *entirely* piss-take. They’re actually a really fucking good band too. Just watch in amazement as guitarist Morgan solo’s with one hand and points a middle finger into a section of the crowd at the same time!
We’re even treated to a new song about inappropriateness at the gym, preceded by an on stage discussion that prompts vocalist Ian to ask the crowd if they’ve had ‘leg day’ today, or if it’s been more of a ‘chin day’. It’s hard not to look like a total berk when watching Grotbags. It’s similar to the feeling you get when you’re out in public, listening to a podcast through your headphones, laughing like a spanner whilst the general public try and avoid the man laughing to himself.
I must admit, going into this double-header show, I didn’t know what to expect from Dune Rats. Speaking with DZ Deathrays a couple of years back, they bigged up the trio real horror show. Having listened to them in the lead up to this evening however, I was still a little unsure of how into it I would be. Colour me surprised then to be pretty much wrapped up in everything this Aussie trio had to offer. Walking down the Soup Kitchen steps with drinks in hand, we could just about squeeze into the main room. It seemed like everyone in the venue was crowdsurfing at some stage, with bodies rolling on top of each other for the entirety of Dune Rats set. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band bring this sort of energy to Soup Kitchen before and it’s hard not to get caught up in it.
Unpredictability is indeed the name of the game for Dune Rats. One minute a lad is grabbed up on stage so he can chug a beer out of his own shoe, the next minute the crowd are split down the middle before rushing into each other again during a scrappy rendition of ‘Blister In The Sun’.
You can tell they’re definitely cut from the same cloth as DZ Deathrays – but then that cloth has been doused in god knows what, given the wide-eyed stare of the vocalist.
It’s testament to them that the room is heaving, and they absolutely won me over. Their fun-loving, raucous, shit-eating-grin inducing antics provide DZ Deathrays with the perfect crowd too – suitably fired up and open to anything the other Aussie trio dish out.
The first/last time I caught DZ Deathrays was a couple of years ago, up the road at Night and Day Café. Whilst that show was stupidly good and the duo put on one hell of a show, the crowd were completely stationary throughout. It’s this mindset that lead me to believe tonight would be more of the same, but thankfully Dune Rats energetic performance ensured a hyperactive crowd throughout (save for a few utter bell-sniffs needlessly chucking pints into the crowd).
Their latest single ‘Pollyanna’ comes a few songs in, the crowd already more than familiar with it, singing along for its duration and collectively losing their shit. The follow up to February’s ‘Blood On My Leather’, its riffy counterpart also gets wheeled out for good measure. Whilst the band are really sincere in letting the crowd know they’re playing new songs, the crowd still absolutely lap it up – going just as hard for each and every one.
For all the riffz and gnarlz vocals, you forget just how dancey a lot of DZ Deathrays tunes are. One major example of this, and a huge highlight in general, is ‘Night Slave’, the final track from their last record ‘Black Rat’. Its incredibly hypnotic rhythm generates a feeling all at once like the whole room is connected and I’m completely spaced out for most of it. But fuck – there’s still lots of time for those aforementioned riffz and gnarlz vocals and it’s obviously a delight to hear old favourites like ‘No Sleep’ and ‘Reflective Skull’ get busted out, as well as personal favourite ‘Gina Works At Hearts’. It’s the latter that caps off a set full of absolute bangers, DZ Deathrays once again leaving Manchester left wanting more.
2016 was alleged to have been a slowed down year in aid of writing album number three. DZ Deathrays ended up getting slightly sidetracked however, with the aforementioned new singles, festival appearances and tours of Australia and North America keeping them occupied. But the two initial singles have opened a door, allowing us a peak at what they’ve got in store for their third outing. So far so good – hopefully we don’t have to wait too long before we can hear the record and have the lads back on our shores!