I first heard DZ Deathrays on a Spotify playlist someone made for me, and the home-grown act has been in my musical rotation ever since. This is a compliment in its own right, but considering the fact I reckon I could list the bands I like to who aren’t from the 90s/00s on one hand, I clearly think these guys clearly have something seriously going for them. This opinion was solidified on Friday night, by a show that was equal parts joy and absolute insanity.
DZ have a bloody impressive resume for a couple dudes out of Bundaberg. Their debut EP, Ruined My Life, was recorded entirely at a house party. Their 2012 album Bloodsteams has been said to be “more than worth going deaf to”. Latest music offering Black Rat is a much more mature record than that of Bloodstreams and earlier EPs. The 11 track disc sees (hears?) the duo refine their dance-punk sound in this self-described “rich, deep collection of sounds, textures and arrangements”. DZ Deathrays played Splendour, Laneway, Leeds and Reading Festivals (UK) and have toured globally. Their set even got shortened at South by Southwest in Texas due to being too loud. These guys are also legendary enough to make this writer brave a nightclub, which is no easy feat.
Friday night kicked off all-girl powerhouse She’s The Band. Made up of members from other SA acts including Hightime, Miss Golly Gosh, Star Ten Hash and Lunar Tricks, this bunch of Rade-ladies (I am so sorry) are a local legacy. After their set at A Day Of Clarity a couple weeks ago, the girls pulled a crowd of punters who’d come in early to catch them in the flesh. Belting out tracks from last year’s single It Comes To Break as well as older tracks off 2013’s One From The Top Shelf, She’s The Band dominated the stage and captivated the crowd for the entirely of their set.
Local lads Pemberton were next on the bill. I’ve seen these guys at The Cranka before and they were my favourite band of the night, yet the foursome were equally good, if not better, on Friday. The group played a variety of songs, the majority of which feature lyrics highlighting millennial-esque angst, to the point where frontman Jared Grimm noted that one track in particular was about being the family fuck-up. By the end of Pemberton’s set, the crowd had seemingly forgotten about the pressures of the working week and were geared up for the main act.
DZ were welcomed to the stage by a raucous crowd of long hair and Violent Soho t-shirts, and got stuck into playing immediately. Their performance reached a crescendo quickly, with crowd-surfing starting just two songs in. Full time band members Shane Parsons (vocals/guitar) and Simon Ridley (drums) appeared to be in their element, and touring guitarist Lachlan Ewbank took the opportunity to make a statement in a #stopadani shirt (good stuff mate). As the trio launched into Blood On My Leather, the mosh pit began shouting the lyrics back at the trio as though there were an unofficial competition to sing as passionately as Parsons.
The noise these two dudes manage to generate, both on their albums and with the help of Ewbank in the flesh, is nothing short of mind-blowing. Also interesting is the reaction they manage to get out of the crowd. Much like the crowds at Violent Soho and Dune Rats’ last tours (who coincidentally have both toured with DZ Deathrays), the crowd at DZ were borderline violent within their mosh pit, flinging themselves into one another like a pinball machine slinging bonus balls. Maybe I’m just getting old and out of the loop, or maybe I’m more of a wallflower nowadays, but these bands seem to be bringing a level of intensity and crowd engagement at their gigs that I haven’t seen outside of punk or metal shows, and that’s pretty neat.
Moving through the set list, DZ belted out Reflective Skull and Less Out Of Sync to a crowd that refused to lose steam. Drawing the show to a close, Gina Works At Hearts was an audience favourite, with some crowd surfers narrowly avoiding being KO’d by lighting fixtures protruding from the ceiling.
Between the pounding of Ridley’s drums, Ewhawk’s fast fingers, Parsons’ blaring vocals and a frenzied crowd, DZ Deathrays put on a killer show. Their tunes are getting better and better, and their shows reflect the cult following these lads are gaining. If you’re willing to brave a busted extremity and don’t mind being covered in sweat that’s definitely not just yours, go see DZ Deathrays next time they’re in Adelaide. You’ll live to tell the tale, and the tale you have will be a damn good one.
P.S. To the guy with the enlarged pupils clutching a busted drumstick, I hope you found your shoe.
Were you at the gig? Wanna know what you missed? Suss all the DZ Deathrays action here.
All images by Harrison Schultz