11th May | Louisiana
For a Saturday night in Bristol, the events calendar looked (dare I say it) pretty bleak. Shining on my phone screen, like a saviour amongst the boredom, was the fact that Drahla were playing The Louisiana. Touring their debut album Useless Coordinates, Drahla’s first LP has already shown that if you want something out of the ordinary and intriguing, this band are a must-see. With the venue almost deserted upon arrival, myself and a few confused fans headed upstairs.
Starting off were Swallow Cave; the Bristol outfit proved that they’re going places. Seeing this band is just another reminder that making the effort to see supports is crucial as they were an outstanding opener. Shoegaze adorned with a cowboy hat, their material contained luscious tones which oozed effortlessness. ‘I’m Glad’, in particular, showed off the band’s gorgeous harmonies illustrated by the lead’s commanding depth.
As the Louisiana started to fill, the following support, Sleep Eaters brought a different flavour to the night. Swooping in with raucous intros, the London-based quintet showed off their Americana, which contained intricate country riffs. With the occasional dip into 60s blues, the set remained refreshing, although you got the general gist of what they were about in the first few tracks. Their latest single ‘Don’t Sell Your Soul’ proved that Sleep Eaters have refined their sound nicely and know how to produce memorable singles.
Lapping up the last of the rays before the headliner, the outside smoking congregation talk turned to the headliner’s comparison to Sonic Youth. With the assembled crowd varying from teens to late-sixties, the cross-generational appeal of the band made the anticipation ever greater.
Within the first ten-seconds of Drahla, the intensity of their sound kicked in. The billowing bassline from Rob Riggs and Mike Ainsley’s hyperactive drumming makes Drahla’s core volatile. With the tempo mellowing slightly for ‘Stimulus for Living’, the outfit ever so cleverly kept the crowd poised for variation amongst the dual-fronted musings.
As heard in the album, you can’t escape the lashings of jazz with their addition of contemporary saxophone. In a live setting, having a saxophonist elevated the set immensely. The largest applause of the night exploded through the bridge of ‘Pyramid Estate’; the screeching brass tied in so flawlessly.
Aside from the musical diversity, Luciel Brown’s hushed vocal lead came with unshakeable confidence. As she weaved through her metaphorical repertoire, she proved that a post-punk band doesn’t need a screaming force or animated presence to make a statement. This deadpan leadership is the perfect personification for Drahla. They can mix it up with some sax, whack in some thrashing progressions, but highlighting it all is their ‘take us or leave us’ attitude. A flurry of mosh-pitters took the reins through ‘Fictional Decision’, compelled by the thrilling performance.
The set as a whole was antagonisingly short – in that, all were longing for more of the inventive, powerful and thought-provoking work that Drahla produce. As they weaved through the crowd, the drones of the guitar closed the performance in an ominous fashion. Uncompromising and original, Drahla possess something quite magical.
See the video for ‘Stimulus For Living’ here: