Canadian alt-rock four-piece Dilly Dally returned to Manchester for the first time in three years with a spine-tingling show at Night People on Saturday night. Formed in 2009, the band’s discography boasts a plethora of singles plus two studio albums, both of which were met with critical acclaim.
It’s not difficult to see where critics’ infatuation for the band comes from. An endearing bunch, singer Katie Monks leads the way with husky vocals and heartfelt lyrics. Adorning a white shredded dress, Monks is the image of corrupted innocence, a theme much encapsulated by her verses.
Don’t be fooled by her sweet and humble demeanour. Monks’ stage presence is striking as she dominates the room, and you couldn’t move for the sea of heads bobbing along to her every move and melody.
The crowd’s gender make-up was somewhat interesting, and what was unanticipated was the higher ratio of men to women, somewhat refreshing given the band’s unmistakable feminist agenda. This reflects a wider shift within rock music still taking place, where female musicians of all genres are unashamedly expressing their sexuality as well as their own definition of femininity – whatever that may be. This isn’t a new phenomenon, with bands such as Hole and Bikini Kill in the early 1990s paving the way for the riot grrrl sound and aesthetic, a theme which is ever present in the band’s tracks as well as stage presence.
The audience were however tamer than initially expected, with just a few shaggy-haired teens attempting to get a pit going. This, however, can be attributed to the venue. Night People itself is arguably inhibiting, its layout restricting any real movement or audience participation. It has a higher capacity than The Castle, which the band played when they were last in Manchester, however, this doesn’t always make for a better gig. Dilly Dally’s ability to mesmerise and captivate was therefore somewhat restrained, and ultimately, this let them down.
This didn’t affect morale however, as the band tore into fan-favourite ‘Desire’. At this point, the atmosphere was electric as it had been pretty much throughout the whole gig, and you definitely got the sense that there were some long-time fans in the room. This created a sort of familial feel to the gig, which, as well as ensuring a sense of safety and inclusivity within the audience, was particularly unique and rare for bands of this genre. Even those like myself who were less familiar with the band were enamoured by the end of the gig, wanting to know more about them and going home to scour Spotify for every song they’ve ever made.
The end of the gig was unusual, with a rather abrupt closing sign off as well as finishing with ten minutes to spare. This was a mildly disappointing end to such a lively and spirited gig, as well as slightly anti-climactic, as the audience were left confused as to whether to remain where they were in the hopes of an encore or head for the merch stand to meet the band.
Ultimately, the band themselves did not disappoint, and for the limited amount of time they did play, the audience were thoroughly captivated. However, the venue let them down, with both its excessive size and inhibiting layout proving counterproductive to Dilly Dally’s unique brand of ’90s feminist riot grrrl grunge adapted for the 21st century.