(Photo of bdrmm by Katherine Mackenzie)
There are few things that fans of alternative music will look forward to more than a first visit to an exciting new local venue Project House combined with a line-up filled with the latest shoegaze-y rising stars. This is precisely what was delivered on Thursday 17th November, when Shaene, DAMEFRISOR and bdrmm were served to the people of Leeds on the silver platter that is Project House.
Going into Shaene’s set completely blind was an eye-opening experience, immediately making you question which rock you had been living under to not have heard of them before. But after getting over that initial self-doubt, you could only be relieved that you now know they exist. Shaene brought to the fore the sounds of classic shoegazers Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine, alongside her own unique sound with a slightly heavier grunge dimension. This distinctive sound elevates them to a unique place within the market. Shaene was a perfect band to greet the gradual flow of fans as they trickled into the venue, without a doubt making their way into their playlists soon after.
(Photo of Shaene at Project House)
DAMEFRISOR’s set was, again, a perfectly curated band and the perfect boost of energy right before bdrmm’s set. This army of six musicians filled the stage and were full of surprises to any new listeners. This band brought with them a vast array of sounds, comprising dingy baselines and extravagant riffs coupled at times with sharp electronic loops that did nothing but make your ears prick up as soon as they started, particularly during D.O.D. All of this was brought together by an eerily clear, dark voice that echoed around Project House, reminiscent of The Chameleons or Spector.
Suddenly, it was time to enjoy the main event. Formed in Hull and living in Leeds, the North’s increasingly worst-kept secret who have cemented themselves as gatekeepers of modern shoegaze, bdrmm, took to the stage. Having earlier this year fallen victim to a devastating non-payment from a festival putting their ability to tour in question; this show felt like the band had something to prove. One can only assume that the incident left them capable of impressing even more.
Starting with their latest album’s opener Alps, it was immediately abundantly clear how bdrmm’s live show gives these tracks a whole new identity. Extended parts of songs and rawness of the instruments in the room, coupled with the unique acoustics and vibrations in Project House meant you felt these songs through your entire body. This was particularly notable during their lead single from I Don’t Know, It’s Just a Bit of Blood – which was also one of this set's few, but memorable singalong moments.
Bdrmm’s set was pretty much an even split between their first and second records, giving us the opportunity to put our arms around our friends and dance along once again to one of the many highlights from their debut record, Gush. To refine them exclusively to shoegaze would be hugely unfair as this set’s heavier moments were certainly more stare and marvel in the moment than look at your feet and gently nod your head, particularly during the chorus of Pulling Stitches.
Of course, a review would be unfair without a mention of perhaps the bdrmm hit – Happy. As anthemic as ever, this song elicited singing at the top of your voice and chaotic, unremorseful dancing. Its bouncy basslines and spritely riffs once again offset its bittersweet lyrics about lost time and moving on. However, what is even more important to note was the performance of its lyric-less counterpart (Un)Happy. This track produced nothing but a phenomenal wall of noise that never felt like it was ready to end. The relentlessness of this song is what makes it stand out. It is safe to say that it is bdrmm’s ‘Mogwai moment’.
Check out Leeds' arist Shaene's new album here.
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Words by Luca Chadwick