The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Live Review: Drenge

Forget going to gigs – this was a party

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Although they’ve kept under the radar for a couple of years, Drenge are now back, and bigger than ever. Quite literally — they have added an extra member to their live act, which took to the stage at Gorilla on the 3rd of May.

Drenge started as a two-piece hailing from Castleton, Derbyshire. With Eoin Loveless on guitar and his brother Rory on drums they set out to conquer the British grunge scene. In 2015 they were joined by Rob Graham filling on bass, adding further depth to their music in order to bring their 2015 album, Undertow, to venues and bars around the UK and Europe.

This time round there’s been another roster shuffle, with Graham now taking up lead guitar duties and a man called Ed playing the bass instead. This complimented the band’s sound well, particularly Graham’s work with the lead guitar, as it brought some interesting melodies to the existing tracks.

Despite the hardcore nature of the band, with their dark and gloomy aesthetic (their debut album cover was of a cemetery), the gig wasn’t quite what I expected, and played out like a joyous celebration. Pinned up behind the band was a large banner with ‘Grand Reopening’ on it, and it was hung lopsidedly, almost like you would expect to see on some American sitcom doing it’s homecoming episode. Between two mic stands at the front was a red ribbon which Rory gleefully cut through before the gig got underway. As he did this, Eoin announced that they were going to be playing songs old and new for the audience that night.

The festive nature of the night carried on when about halfway through the set, after ‘People In Love Make Me Feel Yuck’, the band brought out a cake for the birthday of one of their crew members, and naturally the crowd erupted into a chant of “happy birthday”. This set was truly more than just a gig, it felt like an event, a celebration. The band seemed to love every second of being out on that stage, and delivered a stellar performance as they thumped through a 90 minute long set.

After their period of inactivity, one may have found it surprising that Drenge would return without the support of a new album or at least a single, but no additional hype was necessary. Their cult fanbase was out in droves, for this was the return of one of the most exciting and energetic British bands of the last five years – and they did not disappoint.

They played four new songs, listed on the setlist as ‘Bonfire’, ‘Outside’, ‘Fades to Black’ and ‘This Dance’ – which has just been released as a single. From what could be heard, these songs all felt like the natural evolution of the band. In fact, a couple of the new tracks may even be some of Drenge’s finest work to date, particularly ‘Fades to Black’. After a brief break, Eoin took to the stage to perform fan favourite ‘Fuckabout’, acoustically unaccompanied by the rest of the band. This was a nice take on the track – its melody comes across just as much, if not more, in a stripped down setting and the entirety of the audience joined in singing along at the top of their lungs.

After the gig, I was fortunate enough to meet both of the brothers. Rory was inside greeting fans and taking photos, and Eoin was, rather comically, outside giving away bootleg merch to fans. It’s a great relief to see that the band did not take themselves too seriously, especially considering the darker nature of a lot of their music compared to many other bands.

Overall, it has to be said that this tour is a triumphant return to Britain’s music scene for Drenge, and although no details have yet been released about a third album, it will definitely be one to look out for on the horizon.