Oran Mor – 12/11

The Oran Mor feels a little too swish for the grittiness of the evening. Its comfy couches and attractive bar contrast with the down-and-dirty garage rock grooves the headliners excel in.

Before that, Skaters give off a misleading first impression. Frontman Michael Ian Cummings strides in with a cocky manner in an entrance that makes him look like an Oasis reject, massive oversized jacket and all. Standing casually at the microphone, you’d be forgiven for expecting ‘Live Forever’ to poison the airwaves, but instead Skaters make music more akin to The Strokes at their most memorable.

There’s a fine Skaters contingent in for the night. More than one punter can be seen giving their best Bez dancing moves, and its not totally undeserved – Skaters do rock. A slow start gradually erupts into something a bit more special, with a crescendoing set that builds to encompass punk rock drumming and songs that would belong more in Kerrang than NME. Their attitude and dress sense however implies that they will become the latter’s darlings soon enough.

The problem with Deap Vally’s set is that the first 5 or 6 rows of the crowd attract a shower of wallopers. There is a lot to be said about the audience being just as important as the artist themselves when attending a gig, and this crowd are hellbent on making everyone have the worst gig experience of their lives. Whether it’s unnecessary shoving, fit-like dancing, drunken stumbling, or one girl alcoholically telling me “dae ye no just want tae grab their boobs?”, Deap Vally’s performance becomes, at times, more like an endurance test than something to be enjoyed.

The more upbeat songs go over best; ‘Lies’, with its fuzzy tone and primal drumming, directs the crowd’s attention towards yelling the lyrics at frontwoman Lindsey Troy, rather than being general pests. Encore ‘Baby I Call Hell’ is a saving grace with its blues-rock refrain provoking plenty of flailing and pogoing.

The lulls don’t work quite like they should. Calm and slow White Stripes songs worked because both Jack and Meg knew how to captivate; Deap Vally’s more rudimental grasp of their instruments means that the slower passages are ineffective, and turn into waiting periods between memorable riffs. The crowd’s attention wanes, heads elsewhere, to the bar or to the bathroom. What ought to be an atmospheric and hypnotic passage becomes a Monty Python-esque “get on with it!” moment.

At least with only two members, what you see with Deap Vally is exactly what you get. There is absolutely nothing new happening here, and there are plenty of bands doing it better (Drenge, The Dead Weather). As rock n roll as both Troy and drummer Julie Edwards are – and there’s a stage dive to prove it – nothing makes the listener want to stick it to the man. In fact, by the end of the night, the Oran Mor’s comfy couches are far more appealing than raising your arms and faux-joining in.

[Scott Wilson]

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