One mantra I tried to learn when I started this gig reviewing thing, was not to get completely off my face for fear things get “a bit hazy”. It has been a method to keep on the straight and narrow, but when the bands and the mood is right and where the stars are aligned, I unfortunately move into “mission sh1tfaced”. Thus it was fated for the excellent combination of deepdiver, Fudge. and DeadWax at Huddersfield’s Northern Quarter.
On thinking about the combination of bands, it was curated perfectly; the jangling guitars of deepdiver to begin, the spiky reach out into the room style of Fudge, and then the inspiring fervent desire of DeadWax to get the audience moving, on this their latest single launch (Run It) evening. I am a chameleon and so just followed the vibe.
deepdiver were a band I wanted to like from the off, when I entered the bathroom area to find lead singer Stanley looking a little self-conscious with some Halloween make up scribble on his face and a beret over his two-tone coloured hair. I have empathy with a band who give a bit of a nod to the concept of “stage presence” (be that through a bit of flash dressing, and/or sheer force of personality) and back in the day I was no stranger to the duel colour hair look myself (orange and black usually was my preference).
There was a lot to commend about deepdiver’s performance, although overall it felt a little like they are yet to fully flex their personality and style. On record they are a rather melodic, shoegaze kind of band (think of Cavetown in an angry mood, or a slightly spikier Smith Westerns), but live I got a vibe deepdiver were less certain of themselves judging by the frenetic guitar tuning between songs, and the veer between Blur clever pop, Nirvana grunge and their brand of jangly pop. Keep the punters guessing.
The deepdiver set itself was a mix of cover (a very passible copy of Blur’s Song 2 and Catfish and the Bottlemen’s Pacifier passed through my ears) and originals, most of which worked well, but a couple were just a tad hazy.
I always get obsessed by drummers at gigs (no its not their muscly physique, its because they make or break a band). Here Ayden pitched it perfectly; a slighly lazy, relaxed style but actually timed perfectly and leading the band as should be. The band hit quite a few sweet spots with that languid beat and tight jangling guitars.
I was surprised after the gig as Ayden told me he hadn’t really picked up his drum sticks in a couple of months. Ha, proves what I know, but I was thinking he had pitched it perfectly for the band. Best of all, bass player Ciaran seemed perhaps even more incoherent than me by the end of the night (it could have been my wishful thinking however), so it was good of him to take a hit just to ensure I didn’t feel completely the outlier.
Promisingly, it was a track from deepdiver’s forthcoming EP that I favoured the most from their set, together with the sense of youthful out of control with their track joyrider (with a not to be sniffed at 52,000 hits), so it would seem the best of this young band is yet to come.
As I was sinking the Magic Rock Highwire (yes on reflection it’s not surprising I got drunk), Fudge. came on stage to aid and abet. I saw these Leeds guys at Bingley Festival at the end of August and loved their out of control style. In terms of atmosphere and intensity I got something of one of my favourite live bands Shame, or perhaps a funky early days The Jam.
Lead singer Cam is a big guy with the reach of a champion heavy-weight and as he said, he was just too big for the Northern Quarter stage; as such there was nothing for it but for him to join the mosh pit. To be fair, Cam was almost too big for the dancefloor too in that rather intimate venue, and he covered the space in a second or two.
One thing to know about Northern Quarter is that there are a couple of wide steps between the front to the back of the room; thankfully they go up rather than down so there were just a few abrupt sit downs from the people jumping in front of them as the good natured mosh bouncing proceeded.
New song Hugger Mugger (sounds like a line Boris Johnson would come up with) went down well, with its rather edgy paranoid feel and a heavy pulsing beat. I though with their debut single Walrus, Fudge. killed it and the song really tells us what they are about. Again its a tune with a dark menacing beat but with a nice bit of languid space; this band can grab attention and then are not shy to hold our gaze.
One of my scant band notes for Fudge. written on the evening simply say “Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet) vocals meet Thin Lizzy guitars”. On sober reflection that may not tell the whole story, but it is true live Cam has a striking slowish tuneful vocal while there are some strong and rock solid rock/punk sensibilities in the music.
A reviewer’s grumble, but with the lowercase preference of deepdiver and the full stop after Fudge. the combination is a writing challenge. Where could it do wrong with DeadWax… Oh, wait.
DeadWax were on fire; again, I’ve seen the guys before and very much enjoyed the performance and my high expectation for the band was met this time round too.
DeadWax are a band in charge when they are on stage, and there is a superb mix of punk rap, deep, and very clean and honest bluesy numbers (I got a Free vibe and even a Janice Joplin vibe at one point) and a few performance poet performances too. While songs tend towards one of the three main types, it is a seamless blend. New track Run It got a victory run through almost at the end of the set and is a solid piece of punk rap.
Again DeadWax are a band who are as tight together as…, and lead singer Jake has a great blues voice who can turn itself to rap. Henry went beyond the call of duty by wearing a balaclava for the entire set. I think I would have died of dehydration in his shoes (although to be fair I had had no shortage of liquid by this point).
At the end of the performance, I bought DeadWax’s earlier release their Young Fun EP and I think they were a little bemused at my thought it might one day be a collectable item. I won’t claim to have something like “regular readers” but if there was such a person, they would know I only ever write about bands I like. Less rarely do I say I could picture the band really making it big. DeadWax have the music and something unique in the combination of influenced, the stage presence to give it a bloody good go. Whether they have the sheer determination and the good fortune remains to be seen, but to steal a line from a film they could be contenders.
Fanboy here left the gig with a stagger, a signed CD, a few stickers and a set list for the collection. My missus despairs of the stuff in the backroom, but she might just one day marvel at my foresight to have a collectable or two. Catch DeadWax, Fudge and deepdivers where and while you can.