St Pancras Old Church – March 4th
St Pancras Old Church is not a place you would expect to catch three of Canada’s up and coming experimental pop acts setting up their gear on a Wednesday evening, but that’s where Dralms, VENN and We Are The City find themselves tonight. For first-time visitors to the church, and those familiar with the kind of music to be played there tonight, grandiosity is assumed. The name of the venue itself calls on the weight and richness of traditional. The reality is instead humbling, cosy simplicity, besides the warm acoustics afforded by these kinds of spaces.
Acoustics that work favourably with openers We Are The City’s honed sound. The performance is rough around the edges tonight but the distinctive characteristics of their music shine through – creative rhythms, earnest performance and a generous use of sonic space that makes the other bands on the bill feel claustrophobic by comparison.
VENN hit with the full force of no wave, underpinned by gain-bass runs and solid beats. What they lack in ingenuity they more than make up for in stout, driving head-nodders. The vibe, dark, cool and nihilistic, is perfectly realised, but their fangs are dull. Headline duties are left to the polished pop operation of Dralms. You won’t find a beat out of place or a flat note here, but their professionalism comes coupled with a cold and mechanical performance lacking spontaneity or thrill. Frontman Christopher Smith remains watchable as ever. Peaceful and passive to the point of almost anti-presence, it’s his vocals that bring a spectral element to the subdued jams of the backing band. While there are moments of poignancy, Dralms too often run the line between the enchanting and the vapid.