LIVE: DZ Deathrays, Bloody Knees @ The Shacklewell Arms, London

By Ben Tipple

Certain bands are made for a certain type of venue, and when the stars align, these bands and these venues meet in riotous glory. Tonight, the stars are well placed to bring thrash-pop noise makers DZ Deathrays to the deliberately rickety Shacklewell Arms in London’s hipster central, Dalston.

With Cambridge based grunge-punks Bloody Knees in tow, both bands whip up a frenzy in the suitably dank dance-hall located at the end of a maze of corridors behind the main pub. With DZ Deathrays’ brand new ‘Black Rat’ record playing as if it emerged straight out of a debauched house party, no setting could be more appropriate.

From the moment Bloody Knees frontman Bradley Griffiths visibly forces the gritty vocals from his strained larynx, it is clear the Cambridge four-piece are a force to be reckoned with. Blending grunge and punk with indie sensibilities that fans of FIDLAR or Nai Harvest will lap up, the ferocity of their music is offset by the comfort of their performance.

In a suitably nonchalant, suitably grunge way, Bloody Knees look as passive about their performance as their key influences did in the past. As Griffiths’ hair flops across his face, or Sam Conway’s backwards cap keeps his long locks in check, you’d be mistaken for thinking you were back at the dawn of grunge.

Their sound though is more than a revival. It’s both dark and youthful – a gritty layer over Gnarwolves-esque modernised skate-punk. The newer material, most noticeably recent single and EP title track ‘Stitches’, sounds fresh – invigorating the snowballing revivalist movement.

DZ Deathrays are starting a movement all their own. Having singlehandedly created the thrash-pop pigeonhole which many cling to in order to provide a description of the band; they are the prescribed house-party kings.

Packed full of heavy drums, electro inspired guitar tricks and unpredictable switches from husked vocals to visceral screams, the duo (and now occasional trio) engulf the small venue with anarchic noise. It’s the type of music that encourages the sane to rebel – to partake in harmless disorder.

Bodies are flung into the air, on shoulders and from the stage. The delicate looking lighting rig is subjected to constant mistreatment as cables are pulled and energetic bodies hand from the ceiling. It’s hot and sweaty, unbearable in the best way.

Material from their debut ‘Bloodstreams’ are immediately punchier than that of ‘Black Rat’, which instead carries with it a more hedonistic vibe. The new record’s title track is as unsettling and euphoric as it is on record, while the attempted ‘Northern Lights’ rest-bite – although offering a break from the relentless human ebb and flow – sounds equally as decadent.

Although their rebellious sound is best suited to a small venue, DZ Deathrays are clearly on their way to bigger things. Swapping their smoke machine and lasers of festivals for a straightforward punk show, the band prove just why they moved up the house-party ranks to where they are now. It’s gritty, appropriately decadent and mesmerising. This is a moment you want to get stuck in.