It’s Bonfire Night but we’re not standing outside wrapped up in a chilly field watching fires burn and colours light up the sky – we’re at Manchester’s Club Academy to witness a whole different set of fireworks. In a basement, surrounding by a real hotchpotch of people, we’re here for this very special night with LA’s red hot band DEAP VALLY, aka guitarist Lindsey Troy and drummer Julie Edwards. Even before the band come on, the crowd is heaving and pushing towards the barrier, while several photographers are lined up, eager to hit the pit. The narrow and low stage allows for a real intimacy between band and crowd, and there is real electricity in the air.
As the lights dim, the crowds scream and appropriately “Remember, remember the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason and plot” comes resounding over the speakers. The duo take position and within seconds show us who’s boss tonight – Julie’s wild hair flails over the drums dominated by her masterful and erratic strokes, while Lindsey puts everyone in their place with her husky vocals and moody guitar riffs. They’ve been accused by some of pandering to the boys with their outfits, but there’s nothing meek about the presence and power that these musicians exude on the stage. They write killer music and lyrics, they’re bloody good live and they’re in charge – so you’d better stick with the programme because they’re all about the girl power, baby.
Raw Material is a great opener and a strong reminder of the excellence of their debut album Sistrionix. With barely a breath between each track, the band is doing a great job of winding up the crowds. It’s just a shame that there are way too many cameras being held up (the woman with her iPad mini is going to get seriously whacked by someone if she’s not careful). This is followed up quickly with Gonna Make My Own Money – the title says it all.
Lindsey is coming into her element, prowling round the stage with her guitar, towering over Julie at points like an animal on the hunt, urging her partner in crime to finish up the kill. As they finish up Women of Intention, she addresses the fans, thanking them for missing the fireworks for them – not that the crowds seem to care one bit what’s going outside these four walls – but they’re polite, a spontaneous rendition of Happy Birthday to a fan mid-set another sign of their deep appreciation for their supporters.
As we get to Bad For My Body, Lindsey’s teetering on the edge of the stage, now on top of the monitor, and leaning in closer to the crowds who are getting increasingly fired up. Creeplife sees Julie demolishing the drums with fierce strokes. A fight breaks out between some guys on the floor, dealt with eventually by security, a disturbing moment considering the tightness of the venue and the amount of drinking going on. Lindsey encourages everyone to have a good time without punches: “Don’t get into fights in here… that’s what moshing is for…” and the crowds suitably comply.
During the brilliant Lies, Lindsey sports the biggest smile as she puts down her guitar and throws herself to the crowds, demonstrating the best (and fastest) crowd-surfing I’ve seen for some time. Julie increases the drum speed as Lindsey surfs her way back to the stage: “That was a fun ride!” The crowd continues to go mental as Walk of Shame chimes in – surely one of the best songs of 2013 – and after a short stage departure, they close up with crowd-pleaser Baby I Call Hell. It’s a perfect set, and the crowds could have for sure gone on for another hour, but they’re keen to meet their idols in person as the duo commit to signing merch and taking fan photos after the show, which they do with absolute generosity. Now that’s what I call smashing it with style.