As someone who writes about music, listens to endless albums, spends most of her time in hot, sweaty rooms watching guitars being thrashed, microphones wailed into and hooded heads bob over Macbooks – as someone who loves music – there are bands that you come to intrinsically, unconditionally, hate.
For me, Coldplay fill this space nicely. I hate Coldplay. There are, of course, reasons behind the hatred, but I’m it’s not entirely rational or obvious to the people who I find myself ranting at why I hate them so much. “OK,” they say, “I can see your point, but why not just stop listening to them?”.
I’ve used this line myself, even throwing it back at fellow music obsessives as they rant over a similarly irrational hatred for a band – but it doesn’t fly. As a music lover, you just gotta to hate a band or two.
Why? Firstly because being really grumpy about something we hate but doesn’t really affect us is a favourite national past-time – just check out Twitter when X-factor is on – it’s pure irrational British venom.
Secondly, the process of hating a band so passionately somehow leaves room for the same depth of emotion on the other end of the scale. When you find a band or a song, or experience a show that’s truly brilliant, all that hate somehow elevates the feeling of how wonderful music can be to truly gargantuan heights. Those bands, songs or gigs make the existence of bands as inane as Coldplay melt away into insignificance and affirm life. It’s these moments that make all those hours spent in dark sweaty rooms watching bunches of pretentious twenty year-olds whose only ambition is to be the next Kaiser Chiefs worthwhile. And it takes the sting out of paying £4.90 for a pint.
For this writer, seeing Dry the River’s Scala show earlier this month was one of those nights – and they might just become those bands too.
Musically, they’ve been compared to Fleet Foxes for their aching vocal harmonies and delicately melancholic foundations and to Mumford and Sons for catchy folk-driven choruses. They’re consistently put into the Americana section for their fuzz-filled build ups too – but none of these comparisons seem to gel with what we actually witnessed at the Scala. Peter Liddle’s raw, mournfully beautiful voice seems like nothing we’ve ever heard before and the thundering crescendo of ‘Lion’s Den’ which ends the encore, seems like the most powerful, exciting noise imaginable.
It’s a little bit magic.
It might be the way the band move together on stage, throwing their straggly heads towards the ground and back again to the crashing of the drums: this isn’t five people playing instruments anymore but a single pulsating beast, taken over by the music, thrashing around the stage in five units, like it’s in some unbearable pain. Watching is intoxicating.
It could also be that the band members themselves are so damn charming on stage.
It’s certainly got a lot to do with the moment when the band stepped back from the microphones and electric guitars for a no-frills rendition of ‘Weights and Measures’. It’s no small space that managed to fill with harmonies. The tension it created was almost unbearably beautiful.
It’s probably a mixture of all of these things that made the night feel so special and yet Dry the River haven’t even released an album yet. Whether my love for them really is boosted by an irrational hatred for lesser music or not, there wasn’t a person in that room that didn’t fall in love with them just a little bit. We experienced something very, very special from these charming young guys.