There’s barely any lights on inside tonight, only at the long bar and on the red drenched stage. Perhaps it’s because tonight’s headline act, Drab Majesty from LA have quite a goth, melancholic, post-punk synth sound? Or as singer Deb Demure calls it ‘tragic wave’. Doesn’t really help when trying to capture them in photos – but I will try my best!
This is their first show on their current European tour and they’ve sold out historic rock venue Dingwalls in Camden tonight. Many fans left without tickets were wailing on the Facebook event page throughout the week. It’s also been some time since I’ve been to Dingwalls, not since there was only one small entry through the courtyard. Now they seem to own the building next to it aswell, complete with it’s own a rooftop!
It is great to be back though, especially since reading Viv Albertine‘s first book, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys, because she talked about when she used to work here back in her punk days. I truly love being amongst living history that I’ve read in a personal grit to the ground account, instead of just on a plaque somewhere outside.
Tonight’s support act is SRSQ from Dallas, Texas and she is ‘super excited’ to be here. As excited as we are, she assures. Calling her music style ‘griefwave / dreamgaze, grating pop for the unfit’, SRSQ is a refreshing all female, powerful performance. Using vocal filters amongst her own clear beautiful sounds while playing the keys she emulates a magic I think we all need. Deep and dark but light, surreal and filled with lingering wild beauty.
If you’ve not been to Dingwalls before let me describe it for you; it’s a dark sloping cavern that leads downwards underneath Camden market. Tucked in next to the canal. Low ceiling, black walls, lowering floor levels that sink downwards the closer you get to the stage.
Tonight it’s packed in comfortably with almost every person wearing head to toe black clothing, though there are a few more colourful retro 60s style type people too. Various bright red or blue coloured hair styles shaved on one side or teased up stick out randomly above heads adding some texture to dark venue.
Drab Majesty soon enter the stage immaculately dressed in tailored 60s silver and white damask suits, complete with white bobbed wigs.
Mona D (assisting Deb Demure on this tour) is in an iridescent cape and with Demure, they hold their wine glasses aloft… as if to cheers us, before beginning the show.
They actually look terribly unimpressed, in that ultra cool, untouchable way. It’s brilliant.
As fake smoke swirls around us I notice they’re also wearing large black opaque sunglasses. I’m amazed at how they can see because the room is black except for blue flashing lights behind them. Drab Majesty seem as though they’ve just walked off a spaceship from the psychedelic 60s. Stove pipe pants, fitted glitter white suits; we are all in utter awe.
Deb Demure is on guitar while Mona D is on keys. The sound is huge, atmospheric, all encompassing. Are they here to show us their musical insides?
We hope so! The crowd let out screams at the second song, it’s The Other Side from new album Modern Mirror, they audience know it well.
Drab Majesty bathe us in a post-Cure delicious delay pedal mania…awash in a smokey blue and red light haze; it feels safe down in this cave tonight.
Many in the crowd are bobbing their sweet young heads, lovers kissing, some wearing collars, other’s facial piercings are reflecting strobe lights and many are at peace in the dark hiding from gender definitions.
These sharp dressed wizards have everyone under their spell. Silver psychedelic leaves weave all over their suits, while glitter edges around the fanned out lapels. Absolutely exquisite.
Hands reach up and out, from people in the crowd, trying to soak up the swathes of heavy bass from the synths.
Drab Majesty almost seem like they’re performing mass. A great melancholic delay pedal mass.
There’s something that music like this can do. It let’s you ride the passage ways of your sadness. Without losing your mind. It lets you sit inside it safely. Some might argue that it gets too close to darkness, could make one too down. But if you understand, you revel in it, because it soothes the beast. Things don’t have to be happy all the time. In fact, it’s essential we have darkness and light. It’s the yin and yang of life.
Photography & Words of Drab Majesty at Dingwalls on Wednesday 18th September 2019 by Belle Piec