There’s only so long you can scribble notes and look down on a throng of 500 thrashing teenagers before you say “forget it, this is too insane, I need in”, and surrender yourself to the moment as moshpit fodder.
This is crowd-surfer Valhalla, indie-kid annihilation and prime gig-going-recklessness, all of which is what Drenge’s music both new and old inspires. So, as the raw ass and combat boots of a 15-year-old pass overhead and beer drips from the ceiling, the Loveless brothers launch into an awesome mid-set trilogy of We Can Do What We Want, I Wanna Break You In Half and Bloodsports, revving the gig into its fifth gear. It’s only on second-to-last song Fuckabout, a slow-paced bass heavy sing-along anthem about living in the middle of bloody nowhere (Castleton), that the night’s ludicrously-squished-moshing is exchanged for arm-in-arm staggering – something that remains until the end of closing track Let’s Pretend.
Despite popular claims that Drenge’s recent album Undertow lacks the same unpolished and stripped-back grunge vibe that made their eponymous debut so great, every single song from Undertow tonight receives the same unquestioning commitment from die-hard fans. Nobody cares about the album’s arrangement or subtext here, or whether it’s a good enough follow up to their first. If Undertow can inspire this amount of spit, sweat, vigour and teenage anarchism, then it’s a success, and that’s something that absolutely nobody can refute.
Words: Guy Hirst