DeadWax – Live at the Parish March 2021

Live in a place for long enough and it starts to accumulate ghosts. As you wander around you see places and think of past events and the people that were there. Sometimes those ghosts can feel stronger than the present, man.

In a different world and time when I was a teen, people used to occasionally hold what they called blues parties, held the way they were held back in Kingston. I remember a big house on the edge of Huddersfield, a place that no doubt was once very respectable but over the years less desirable and more run down as the main road got busier and the place grimier. For the entrance fee of a few pounds, you got a few cans of red stripe, a big fat spliff, and the pleasure of the early hours in a large cellar rammed with stoned people, while a Rastafari man, eyes rolled well back into his skull through the smokes, DJ’ed music very loud on the biggest sound system known to man. The intense uncompromising dubstep and the hardest bass workout pounded and flowed through your brain, the red stripe and the smokes too strong for anything but really feeling and breathing the music. Or perhaps it was the emotion and energy within the music. How did I ever find my way home? I wonder on that one.

Forward a generation, it’s mid week and I’m in the top floor of the Parish and listening to local band DeadWax. I always think that DeadWax are one of our more original and creative bands; they blend a whole heap of influences in a mixing bowl. It’s always very tasty. There’s always biting spitting rap involved, thanks to the vocals of Jake Milburn, and sometimes behind the music feels heavy rock, sometimes it feels more playful and flexible. It is always interesting and intense, DeadWax are a band who plough their own furrow.

I think it was the sheer intensity and focus in the band’s performance that brought me back to those friendly ghosts in a Huddersfield cellar a generation ago, although my recording of a couple of snippets of the song do retain a bit of a vibe for some of the intense underground. Deadwax offer the vibe of the edge, of something unpredictable, of something different.

I could recognise some older tunes in the DeadWax set tonight, there was the funky and soulful last single Warning, which was magnificent, and Heavy Temptation which has more of a rocky riff, dare I mention the Beastie Boys. But equally there were plenty of tunes new to me, although it is a while since I last saw the Wax guys live. If you ever wondered why the members of DeadWax are skinny then see them live; they shed about 4 million calories in front of your eyes. I have been feeling exhausted these past few weeks, and I swear there was a energy transfer to rival the explosion at Chernobyl.

Tonight Deadwax were main support for Kent grime punk band Riskee and the Ridicule. Both bands on the face of it are mining a similar seam, but they could not feel more poles apart. Riskee and the Ridicule delivered a banging headline set with chanting sing-along tunes but it was DeadWax that felt the more complex, the deeper, the inky black and the intense. No wonder Deadwax are always a band I always check my diary for.

Chris R


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