All photos by Laure Noverraz
I’m sure you can tell, simply by the title of this article, that the billing of the show put on at the Exchange on 21st September was pretty special. After the brilliance of Toronto-based grunge four-piece Dilly Dally’s debut album Sore, it was hard not to be excited for them to be back in UK, but bringing along fellow Canadians Weaves for their first ever Bristol show, plus Brighton’s moody post-punkers Abattoir Blues, made it irresistible. Basically, if you didn’t get there as soon as doors opened, then you were missing out.
Abattoir Blues have their own connection to Bristol, with the band releasing a few early tracks through Art Is Hard, but since then have grown and matured; this week released their first proper single. From the off, the band balance shimmering guitars against crashing drum and bass, at times sounding like early Eagulls. Lead singer Harry Waugh contorts and thrashes, eyes closed, like a Stewart Lee routine sped up 10000x, whilst he delivers his powerful, emotional vocal. New single ‘Sense’ stood out, with the band pulling back the noise to create something beautiful and special, before ramping it back up again for old favourite ‘Blinded’. They leave the stage, covered in sweat, and spent.
Weaves can make just as much noise when they want to, but that’s not the first thing you notice when they start playing. No, the first thing is that all four of them play their instruments (or sing in the case of Jasmyn Burke), like no one else alive. Each person plays like they’ve never been taught how to properly and so instead have crafted their own, incredible version of doing so. Whether through pure skill or imagination, Weaves twist genres and song forms together into an unpredictable mess, then straighten it all out again. The wiry, spaghetti riffs that drive songs like ‘Candy’ and ‘Tick’ are recreated live perfectly, using glass slides, pure musicianship, or even re-purposing a guitar pickup as a vocoder. Jasmyn is a natural showperson, warm and captivating, she commands the room with open arms, while effortlessly hitting notes in her one-of-a-kind voice. During one song, bassist Zach Bines manages to break two *two* bass-strings due to the pure ferocity of his meandering basslines. Whilst finding a replacement the remainder of the band create a weird wigged-out jam, better than most bands can write. During the next song, Zach breaks another string.
Through this intensity, showmanship, and just plain incredible songs, Weaves almost stop time, and it feels as if they’re playing not thousands of miles away from home, but instead in their local bar, to a group of their best friends. By the last song, the stage is full with audience members and Jasmyn is conducting the crowd with call-and-response fun. But unfortunately this extended, rousing rendition of ‘Motorcycle’ signals the end of their set, and snapping the crowd back to reality.
When Dilly Dally takes to the stage, the mood changes. It’s obvious that there won’t be any call-and-response, no solos and no jams. Dilly Dally are here to play a lean, tight grunge show, heavy on both riffs and choruses. “I don’t wanna be a diva,” says singer/screamer Katie, whilst wearing a Britney vest, a few songs in, “But this is my only chance to be a diva. Can you turn the lights down please?” The lights are dimmed, one by one, till the band are submerged only in red lights. As the band play through their album, you realise the craft in every song. Scratch back the growled vocals and heavy guitars on each, and there’s a brilliant pop song underneath. This becomes even more apparent when the band perform their cover of Drake‘s “Know Yourself”. The band twist the song on it’s head, and if you didn’t know it was a cover (srsly, have you been living under a rock?), then the song could easily be one of the bands.
‘Purple Rage’ is dropped criminally early on, with guitarist Liz Ball’s barbwire riff reminding all gathered how ferociously catchy the song is. Jasmyn from Weaves joins the band onstage to help with the atmospheric, Joy Division like, ‘Get To You’ helping to scream along with the chorus. ‘The Touch’ is absolutely smouldering, the song’s Pixies loud verse/quiet chorus structure creating a hypnotising and charged version of the song, and possibly the highlight of the night. Ending on album opener ‘Desire’, the band then slinked off as the crowd kept applauding, before staying behind, signing albums a copies of the latest Bristol Live (shameless plug sorry). Gigs with lineups as good as that don’t come around often, and this one definitely lived up to expectation.
Listen to Dilly Dally’s KEXP session for a taste of what it was like below: