Sunday, March 30, 2014

Live Review :: Darlia :: Sound Control, Manchester - Mar 28 2014

Live Review

Darla (w/ The Minx)

Sound Control, Manchester

March 28 2014

Words: Dave Beech

Photos: David Brown (The Minx), Steph Murphy (Darlia)

One of many venues situated just a stone's throw away from Oxford Road train station, Sound Control, though unassuming on the outside, plays host to an multiplicity of eclectic club nights and gigs on a weekly basis, the former often following the latter. Such is the case tonight, and as we descend the stairs in to the basement, pushing through a set of plastic strips (such as you would find in a warehouse) and being hit with a musky damp smell, you can understand why the venue hosts as many D'n'B and house nights as it does; the concrete floor and dim lighting bringing to mind my singular experience of an illegal rave.

We arrive just in time for the second band on the bill tonight, Manchester's very own The Minx, a five-piece that combines the best bits of ska and two-tone with an unrelenting punk energy and attitude. They kick things off with the suitably snotty 'Out the Other Ear' to a disappointingly small crowd, which increases, if only a little, over the course of their set. The first thing that's noticeable - aside, of course, from the hulking figure of bassist Steven Stuttard who dwarfs singer Chris Haddon throughout - are the problems with the sound levels. Through no fault of their own, the drums are mic'd too loudly, and the keys are often drowned out in songs where they feature quite heavily. However, rather than curb my interest, it only serves to make me want to see the band playing a headlining set, as the aforementioned energy is as obvious as the sound issues, and with five blokes crammed on to a fairly small stage it makes for an interesting watch.

A couple of stand-out tracks come mid-way through in the form of 'Corporation Pop' and 'See You At the Funeral', whilst set closer 'Forest Bank' seems to be a fan favourite, and sees the band's exit followed by shouts of “more”. The crowd and sound don't do The Minx any justice here tonight, especially as expected, both improve dramatically once Darlia take to the stage.

Entering to the sound of Dick Dale's surf rock version of 'Misirlou' made famous through it's use in Pulp Fiction, the headliners seem reasonably unassuming for a trio often likened to Nirvana. As they begin with 'Blood Money', however, any impressions of an unassuming band are blown out of the water. Taken from their forthcoming 'Candyman' EP, it doesn't take long before what can loosely be described as moshpits break out towards the front of the crowd, which has increased dramatically from the number of heads watching the supports.

An early highlight comes in the form of the EP title track and current single, an abrasive combination of sleazy grunge guitars and 90s Britpop, making it easy to see that despite the short length of time the band have been together, there's a more than a justifiable reason behind the buzz that surrounds them.

There's little crowd interaction from the band tonight, something which can be attributed to an early curfew (presumably the staff are expecting a wired-eyed and gurny-mouthed contingent to arrive later) and something which could possibly explain the poor sound quality experienced by The Minx too. For Darlia, however, it couldn't be more different, the band's inherently raw nature managing to paradoxically clear. What's also evident is the band are note-perfect; any slip-ups expertly hidden and their sound impressively full for a three-piece.

Ending with the trio of tracks that make up 'Queen of Hearts', their debut EP, is a sure-fire way to get the crowd going, and the aforementioned moshpits open up once again, with both 'Napalm' and 'Queen of Hearts' respectively going down well. In fact, so effusive are their fans that one poor unfortunate ended up spending the rest of his Friday night in A&E after one mosh too far.

For a band who haven't released an album yet, Darlia have an impressive amount of fans, and things can only get better for them. This is the second time in almost as many months that the band have played this venue too, so you can only respect them for their commitment. Whether they will stand the test of time, we can only wait and see, but at the moment, things are certainly looking bright.

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