If anyone tells you the alternative DIY scene in the UK is dead, don’t believe them. In fact, if you need any evidence, just point them in the direction of Power Lunches, tucked away in London’s deepest, darkest Dalston, which has showcased countless DIY gigs and club nights over the past few years… and tonight was no different. Curated by local independent label Keroleen Records (run by Doe, who also happened to be on the bill tonight), the evening was a surge of four quality acts. After the crowd started to file in to the lairy punk antics of The Exhausts and the slightly more mellow Bloomer, the tiny venue was packed and primed for the top two bands on the bill.
As London based three piece Doe took to the stage the sweaty crowd jostled and vibrated before they even hit a note. Then Doe hit out in full force. The chords were crunchy, the beats were hard and the melodies were super sing-along. Whether the fact that Doe don’t have a bass player is by design or just circumstance doesn’t really matter – the sheer force and energy of the band’s music tonight proved that they don’t need one. Doe blasted out a selection of tracks from their first release before launching into ‘Why Are You’ taken from their most recent EP ‘Sooner’ and the whole venue erupted into a swell of cheers as it bounced along in unison to the thumping beats and tight melodic boy/girl harmonies. The band ramped things up when they played a second track from their new EP in the form of ‘Redo/Improve’ which came across like a Pavement track turbo charged with the spirit of Riot Grrrl. Doe ran through a set of songs so powerful and beautiful it was like getting punched in the face by a butterfly. It was easily the best 25 minutes we’ve spent in a venue this year.
To say Playlounge had their work cut out would be an understatement, but Laurie (guitar) and Saam (drums/vocals) mounted the stage and launched straight into a run of highlights from their debut album ‘pilot’. The fact that two people can make such a huge wall of sound is hard to understand. It’s as though the duo have channeled some sort of voodoo volume magic, but this level of sound was a reflection of the amount of energy Playlounge emanate on stage, which is immense. The spiky melodies of ‘zero’ and ‘skulls’ permeated the crowd as Saam delivered his kinetic vocals over Laurie’s guitar, still gloriously melodic even under a level of fuzz and distortion that would put a mid-90s Weezer to shame. As they came to the end of their set, Playlounge were clearly enjoying themselves, and this couldn’t help but be reciprocated by the audience, especially as they sang along in unison to album stand-out ‘fan fiction’. The whole place had the atmosphere of the best house party you’ve ever been to.
As the final chords of the evening rang out and the sweaty crowd filed out into the much needed night air, it was clear that London’s DIY indie scene is as strong as it’s ever been. So, if someone asks you if DIY is dead, take it from me, you can say to them “Nah, it’s just getting started”.