Live Review: Dope Body @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 23/09/2012

w/ Blacklisters, Fawn Spots + Two Trick Horse

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It feels as though I’ve been the only one counting down the weeks and days to seeing Baltimore, Maryland’s Dope Body hit these shores, aside from the PR company who brought them to my attention. Their latest album ‘Natural History‘ is one of the standout albums of the year, but you’d be hard pressed to find it making waves in many other places apart from right here, and indeed the turnout for this gig is moderate at best. No one can blame the Brudenell Social Club, who are always bringing over scores of alternative acts and putting on some of the best shows in the city of Leeds. They haven’t won a bunch of awards for nothing. Still, I feel like Dope Body are a sleeper band of sorts, waiting for the day the wider press wakes them up. I suspect that they don’t care for popularity – tell me guys if I’m wrong – but in a weird way it feels like some sort of dark secret waiting to be revealed.

Me and my brother-in-law arrive around halfway through Two Trick Horse‘s set, swigging our beer as they crank out one crunching riff after another. The noise trio don’t manage to get many people off the comfy seats at the front of the venue, but it turns out to be a bit of a shame, as they juxtapose between riffs excellently, angling through songs as much as their flexible bassist, who could probably trump anyone in a limbo contest. Still, they become my new discovery of the day, and it’s to be hoped they can be a bigger part in this new wave of noise rock bands that seem to be emerging.

By contrast, York trio Fawn Spots seem a little more awkward, initially overcoming one or two technical glitches to ramble through a set that’s at times part upbeat indie rock and part post-hardcore without the rage. Not my cup of tea but there’s definitely room for these guys to develop their potential, depending on which side of the fence they fall upon.

I really, really want to like Blacklisters, I really do. Their unhinged racket makes for some of the best heavy music Leeds has to offer, but tonight they’re on home turf and that ends up with the singer basically dicking around between songs too much. He says they wouldn’t play ‘Trickfuck’ because ‘everything knows how it goes, everyone goes mental…‘ etc. I suspect really its cos they overran their set. When they do crank out songs like ‘Mouthpiece’ and new track ‘The Bully’ they are truly a force, their vocalist being suitably imposing and sneery, but the constant banter ruins any attempt at continuity, which is what you’d want if you want a band like this to cave your head in. Maybe next time, in a venue they can’t quite call home.

Still, all these events conspire so that by the time tonight’s headliners hit the floor, I’m already thinking about that last train home. There’s time to bear witness to two of ‘Natural History‘s finest cuts: a cracking opening salvo of ‘Weird Mirror’, starting with its bleeps and bloops before taking us on a kaliedoscopic rock journey; and ‘Road Dog’. Vocalist Andrew Laumann appearing like the bastard lovechild of Iggy Pop and Alex Zane, seemingly feeling every convulsion that rumbles through the floor, twisting like a python and going fucking mental when required, i.e. at all times. Zachary Utz is also a dab hand at guitar, firing off a seering, joyous solo during ‘Road Dog’. Alas, we can’t really continue the experience beyond the third song (a number I’m honest enough to say I couldn’t identify), and leave as the opening, brooding strains of ‘Out of my Mind’ enter the fray.

It was a decent turnout if disappointing nowhere near a sellout. Fair enough, the Brudenell isn’t the easiest place to get to on a Tuesday night, but I’m still scratching my head at why the wider UK rock press haven’t picked up on Dope Body yet. Are they too hipster, or something? Sure, they don’t all dress like the hardest rocking band, but why should that matter? Their appeal stretches wider than the confines of their current popularity. I’m sure if they can keep producing records like ‘Natural History‘ the penny will drop for us here in the UK. Irrespective of that, hopefully Dope Body’s return to these will be more well received next time. If they can party out like that all night, I’m pretty sure we owe it to them to do the same.

Peter Clegg

TWO TRICK HORSE

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FAWN SPOTS

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BLACKLISTERS

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DOPE BODY

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