Drenched in Drenge at Camden Electric Ballroom ★★★★
These were the only words spoken by lead singer Eoin Loveless. Static, uncharismatic yet utterly brilliant, the band formed by two bored countryside brothers demonstrated in Camden how their music more than compensates for the lack of ‘spectacle’ at their live gigs.
Camden Electric Ballroom played host to Drenge, a hard rock trio who have moved themselves from an early hard rock band with a niche fanbase, to a band that appeals to the mainstream (with a political edge). MP Tom Watson praised them back in 2013 in his resignation letter from the shadow cabinet, and as the general election was looming, Drenge’s music, intentionally or not, captured the angry, bored and restless youth culture of the UK.
Take that culture, put them in a dark room with loud speakers, and blast riot inciting songs like Running Wild or We Can Do What We Want – all of a sudden, rioting becomes acceptable with a mutual sense of “I am going to smash into you…but I don’t want to hurt you”. It is utterly brilliant.
In this way, Drenge are more of a service; they don’t need the bravado of over-exuberance on stage as they seem to find their own personal solace in creating music. Instead, their live performance allows the audience to, quite literally, express themselves (most often in a mosh pit).
I see at as a perversion of the traditional gig; a return to the old-fashioned, pre-Elvis method of performance (i.e. very little charisma, movement or general attention to physical entertainment on-stage), yet a dramatic change of the previously passive audience. At the Electric Ballroom, I witnessed every audience member harness the energy of Drenge’s headbanging songs and express it in an explosion of flailing limbs and complete disregard for human safety.
Drenge’s new album Undertow is accessible, nostalgic and completely focussed on the actual music. They have reinvigorated grunge, appealing to an audience from sweaty, emo teenagers to politically disgruntled grandads, all of whom were happily and caringly smashing into each other to the complete apathy of the band.