Remember that boy at school, the one who always seemed to have a nosebleed? It's not hard to imagine Eoin Loveless, singer and guitarist in Derbyshire duo Drenge, as that boy.
Blood, flesh and gore splatter Drenge’s songs like the surface of a butcher’s worktop; growing up in a village in the middle of nowhere, as this Derbyshire duo did, means a fascination with the more gruesome things in life comes naturally.
Opener ‘People In Love Make Me Feel Yuck’ swells with violent imagery against a barrage of gnarled riffs: “I found a bird on the floor that was covered in blood / Its feathers littered the carpet, it had given up,” yells the elder Loveless within seconds of coming on stage.
“I broke the skin of my teeth on the steps to the church / I put my hands in the air, you crushed my knuckles to dust,” he continues, as the audience, predominantly kids, is sparked into life, turning quickly into a mess of flailing arms buoyed by teenage angst.
The nagging sense of anomie that growing up in a provincial town harbours was the catalyst for Drenge and this gig in London, their biggest yet, cements the Loveless brothers' successful escape from the confines of Castleton via a love of grunge, pen and paper, guitar and drum kit.
The fact that the pair did actually occupy the same womb, once upon a time, isn't the only thing that makes Drenge differ from The White Stripes, now the template on which any other two-piece rock band will be compared.
As opposed to the tender style of garage rock that Jack and Meg perfected in their early days, the Loveless duo share the kind of contempt for romance that their surname suggests – one pulverising B-side played tonight is titled ‘Necromance Is Dead’.
The aggression emanating from drummer Rory, whose mass of black hair makes him the spit of Dave Grohl in the ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ video, proves infectious, as the circle pit draws in more and more young blood. “I've got beer in my eye!” squeals one girl after she is spat out from the other end of her boozy baptism.
Previous interviews with the band have shed light on their desire to reflect the shitty reality that Britain’s youth faces today – not the sunny environment that the charts suggest, but something altogether more overcast.
The pounding strains of ‘F*ckabout’, an anthem for uselessness and arguably Drenge's pièce de résistance so far, encapsulates that desire the most, with Eoin’s aside of “Well, what do I know anyway?” proving an uncanny resemblance to something Jarvis Cocker would do.
A giddy energy runs through the entire set that not even an over-zealous air conditioning unit can freeze, with the crowd united in the realisation that this is a band likely to be going places.
Even more excitingly, the new songs played tonight suggest a growing maturity in the duo’s writing style that remains tied to their knack of inverting familiar riffs and rock ‘n’ roll cliché into something refreshingly raw.
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Words: Nico Franks