Live review: DIIV + Ulrika Spacek + Aldous RH, 02 Institute 2 – 17/03/16

If you heard dogs howling around the Digbeth vicinity on Thursday night, that was probably down to Aldous RH and his alarmingly high squeal; at one point it was so loud you felt like you’d accidentally walked into an elderly patient’s hearing aid test, but between these screams was some pretty intense, Tame Impala-esque funk rock.

Ulrika Spacek have started to make their mark on the underground scene, with their bludgeoning, blackened soul of an album (the rather fine The Album Paranoia). Opener Beta Male is a pounding, Sonic Youth-style dirge, while She’s A Cult is perhaps their most accessible song, a churning, Humbug-esque rocker with Rhys Edwards channelling a Thom Yorke-indebted croon.

Call it nerves or sheer mind-fuckery, but DIIV’s Zachary Cole Smith sure wants the crowd to know who he is and where he’s from; he utters the gambit “We’re DIIV and we’re from New York City,” so many times you begin to deduce there’s some sort of subliminal coda buried beneath. Remove this badinage (he also did a commendable Brummie accent at the start) and Cole and his cabal are in inspired form – the dark, brooding tracks from new record Is the Is Are soar majestically, not least the Oriental-style riff of Bent and the throbbing bass-line of Yr Not Far. As for the poppier moments, Under the Sun glides on its rollicking riff and Dopamine is a giddy rush of surf-rock.

Cole is also generous with DIIV’s debut, Oshin, and the breathy melodies of Follow, the chiming How Long Have You Known and fan favourite Doused all sound more rousing and intensified when played live.

As Cole bounds off-stage, cap in hand, he leaves the crowd in no doubt just who rocked their world…or where they’re from.

Words: Sam Lambeth

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