Sophie Fennelly reviews...
On Saturday night, the South London-based post-punk band Dry Cleaning took to the stage at Stylus for their biggest headline show to date. Preceding the main event, Vermont punk band THUS LOVE and Chicago indie rock band Dehd both had their chances to impress the crowd. Although some may have been puzzled by the latter choice, given the contrast between a conventional upbeat sound and Dry Cleaning’s dialled back approach. However, it was clear that this decision was a great success, with many squeezing into Stylus’s main standing area just to get a closer look. By the time the headliners began, the venue was full to the brim, and it was difficult for many to find a place to see.
Despite apparent technical issues causing a late appearance from the headliners, the set had a fantastic start, opening with Kwenchy Kups and going on to play a range of fan favourites such as Scratchcard Lanyard and Gary Ashby as well as older cuts. There was no faulting the band’s performance, with Shaw’s deadpan spoken word striking the perfect balance between a quirky and attention striking front woman performance whilst not overshadowing the talented instrumentation of the rest of the band.
Newcomers to a Dry Cleaning gig may be taken aback. Despite relatively casual outfits, with Shaw clad in an oversized white button-down, black jeans and a bold red lipstick, the style of the band’s shows certainly leans more on the side of spectacle than it does recital. Shaw's dramatic and exaggerated facial expressions and general lack of genuine audience interaction creates the impression of a carefully sculpted character. Yet this does not stand in the way of the audience’s connection with the band. The confession that a copy of the lyrics for two songs was needed was received as a charming moment of genuine openness and vulnerability rather than evidence of unprofessionalism.
The audience’s love and enjoyment of the performance was never more evident than when the band left the stage for the first time only to be hailed back with true desperation for more. This taste for more continued long after the concert’s end and will hopefully set the band in good stead for the rest of their European tour.
Words: Sophie Fennelly