February 29th | Louisiana

Dry Cleaning and Pozi combine forces for a full-throttle onslaught on the ears at Bristol’s Louisiana – a sweltering sweatbox of anarchic, razor-sharp riffs.

Pozi take the stage first – a thrashing punk three-piece with experimental tendencies. Drummer and vocalist, Toby Burroughs dons a luminescent pink baseball cap as he thunders at his drum set with impeccable speed and athleticism. As sweat drips onto the cymbals, he gnarls into his microphone in a Joe Strummer-influenced tone. It’s punk rock at its dirtiest – mixing swagger with rage. Yet, Pozi also flex a little something out of the ordinary – dark and twisted underbelly. Violinist, Rosa Brook, adds a lingering sense of avant-garde and mythical wonderment to the band. Punk rock meets pagan ritual, as her crooked and demonic violin strings screech and cackle like an electric guitar. Their songs may be simple, but they’re performed to a tee.

Up next is Dry Cleaning, a band that means real business. Lead Singer, Florence Shaw, stares violently ahead. An unblinking and hypnotic gaze. It’s as if she’s storing away little vignettes and images from the audience to use as future lyrics, constantly mining for yet another spiky put-down or poetic flourish. She’s flanked either side by guitarist (Tom Dowse) and bassist (Lewis Maynard). They come across as deathly rockers, with long straggly hair, black clothes and crawling tattoos that seem to take up every inch of space. The band are anything but pretentious. Bullshit ‘indie’ expectations and ‘edgy’ clothes are rightly quashed. In their place lies a demented and ferocious urgency that bites hard.

Proceedings begin with a fiery spark as the band race into ‘Spoils’ from their second EP, Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks. Its muscular wall of overdrive-drenched guitars wail before exploding into an irresistibly danceable brand of chaotic rock. Guitarist, Tom Dowse, is however immediately met by niggling sound difficulties. His face frowns constantly throughout their first few songs, fiddling with his pedal and dual amp in a bid to resolve any issues.

The audience are not deterred. Their heads still shake ferociously in time with the band’s cerebral post-punk bullets. They cheer the band on – imploring them to carry on and stick with it. And thank god they do.

As sound difficulties are quickly resolved, the band unfurl with a renewed sense of vigour. Their boundless energy is a captivating sight to behold. Both guitarists leap across the tiny stage, nearly kicking over cups of water that stand precariously in their wake. It’s sweat-inducing stuff. Shaw stands menacingly above in harrowing stillness, surveying the audience before spitting her deep-seated angst-driven sprechgesang lyrics.

It’s as if she’s listing every single sardonic and convulsive thought she’s ever had, etched deep into the wallpaper of her mind. Poetry infused with a sense of raw grit. Yet the wry lyrical prowess of ‘Conversation’ and ‘Magic of Meghan’ is lost under the band’s earth-shuddering cacophony of noise. Despite the direct potency of her words, they’re delivered softly and quietly and are resultantly buried and at times inaudible.

Dry Cleaning no doubt prove their no-nonsense rock credentials at the Louisiana. And, with a slight adjustment of sound levels to further bring out their expertly woven lyrical spikes – they have the power to be all the more menacing.

See the video for ‘Magic of Meghan’ here:

Featured image: Ed Miles