Live billings are a very tricky thing. You don’t want to have everybody in a very close-fitting genre, because it runs the risk of feeling like you’re at a Status Quo gig and everything melding into one cohesive sound. At the same time, you don’t want too much variation because it can confuse an audience. It’s tricky business.
Dirty Money No. 5’s album launch show at The Sugarmill in Stoke (Saturday September 6 2014) played it risky in this regard. On one end of the bill, we have headliners Dirty Money No. 5 – a funk-rock band that give off some intense Hendrix vibes – and on the other end we have opening act Digging For Clouds – a band on the rawer, more metal, side of alternative with a caustic Kurt Cobain vocal edge. And, to tread some kind of middleground between the two polarising acts, we have Suburban Radio – a band that exist merrily in the strange musical expanse between The Ramones and Reel Big Fish.
Digging For Clouds waste no time in opening the night with ferocious guitars and vocals that ring of a Nirvana quality. It’s a powerful sound from such a young band, and one that they will only grow into. Opening track ‘One Day’ captures the band living up to the Nirvana comparisons I immediately drew – a track with rolling drums and overdriven guitars that flows in the same vein as ‘Breed’.
Although the vocals do blend into the instrumentation at parts, presumably due to audio leveling, the set is intense and enjoyable and features an unexpected-yet-totally-expected Nirvana cover, ‘Territorial Pissings’. A little more action in the stage show and there could be no stopping Digging For Clouds. We didn’t manage to get shots of this band, but below is an audience video of their opening track ‘One Day’.
Likewise, Suburban Radio don’t fail to get everybody involved and established themselves as a dominating live force. We recently reviewed their new EP, but believe me when I say that it doesn’t do this band justice. Their live show is something to see – opening with a relentless medley of sounds before the band begin interacting with the audience. And they do so well, making this an experience more than an event.
This is something the audience is a part of, and when the band play ‘We All Deserve To Be Free’ (a full band version, which – as I hoped – sounds much more immensely anthemic than the acoustic rendition on the EP) they actively involve the audience in singing along. Bringing on Nicola Jayne, the band launch through EP opening ‘Step Out’ before winding up the whole thing with a passionate “punk isn’t dead” performance of The Ramones’ ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’. See this band. Now.
In the midst of smoke machine haze, Dirty Money No 5 bring the night to a close with a funk rock blend of pop-tinged tracks that get everybody in the venue moving. With Dirty Money, the feel of the performance is that this is one big celebration – and of course it is, their new album ‘Have A Nice Week’ is about to be released. And by performing album tracks like ‘Bang Bang’ and ‘Start All Over’, there’s definitely a shared excitement in the room.
It’s a party, and everybody is having fun because Dirty Money know how to make performances fun. The on-stage chemistry between the whole band is spectacular, with so many funny antics between the vocalist and bassist that it’s hard to note any particular examples. Tonight is a night of genuine excitement, and you feel that in every move the band make on stage.