The Forum, London
“Whats up London!”- the first words an eagerly waiting audience hears from the stage, from Dark Dark Dark frontwoman Nona Marie, as the lights finally dim and the stage is set for a beautifully sedate set. Atmospheric from the offset such a cavernous venue as the forum only serves to augment their sound with reverberations bouncing off of every wall. Their sound is reminiscent of a jazzier arcade fire, but at no point seems to be anything other than organic, dare I say they manage to undo all the Sauron-like evil that Mumford and Sons have done to the accordion, and I fell a little bit in love with their drummer. A skilled, technical jazz drummer who looks like jesus and plays drums better than jesus probably ever could. If you’re yet to give Dark Dark Dark a chance, I’d recommend you do and they might just return the favour by soundtracking your life in a way that somehow makes everything seem more cinematic and meaningful. Anyways, they ended to a huge applause and I think they certainly added a lot of people to their fan-base, not least ShufSounds.
Shortly after this, Lower Dens take to the stage for one of the most nervous looking line checks I’ve had to witness with the odd drum pad hit and synth bloop. Only to deliver the second beautiful introduction of the night, just as atmospheric but this time more blissful and melodic than the melancholic sound of Dark Dark Dark. Aesthetically and musically they seem to serve the perfect middle ground between dark dark dark and kurt vile & the violators, occasionally shoegazey and surfer moments serve them well, but the odd misguided attempt at krautrock seems to leave them bordering on parody and is a little cringe worthy for all, said moments also make use of some of the most horrible synth sounds you’ll ever hear (not horrible as in Aphex Twin intentionally fear stirring but just...the kind of tacky shit i thought we were past as a species) but these moments aside, a very promising act with a very tight performance.
Finally after what feels like forever the man of the hour and his violators take to the stage to an electric response, after a few seconds of setting up Kurt interrupts the applause to simply say “yup...hows it going?”. After this point we rarely see his eyes stray from his fretboard, he seemed to constantly be in a self induced trance along with his guitar. The first two tracks are indistinguishable amongst the fuzz, more sonically aggressive than any moment of his latest studio effort ‘Smoke Ring For My Halo’ but after this we are treated to very intimate, beautiful renditions of it’s more tender moments which take the lions share of the album. Again, such a reverberantly lively venue serves this wonders, unfortunately ‘Puppet to the Man’ never drops, my personal favourite from the album. But next best thing ‘Society is my Friend’ is a power house, that leads into a shockingly heavy MBV esque breakdown that seemed to take the whole room’s breath away. Of course, ‘Baby’s Arms’ gets mumbled through like Dylan on morphine and perhaps should’ve been renamed ‘bavy aaaah’ but it does little to detract from its beauty. Many who leave assuming they’re too cool to encore miss out on an albeit short but strong encore ending on a surreal cover of ‘Knockin’ on Heavens Door’ which seems to, durst I say it, trump the original that tiny bit. The venue was undoubtedly laced with history and a little was added to the pile when Kurt and his gang took over.
Words: Jake Williams