On The List :: Dry The River @ Rock Shop [7.24.11]
London's Dry The River have been on stage for less than two minutes when the arrive at their finest musical moment. It is the second half of latest single, "No Rest", an explosive, three-part chorus centering on the unforgettable lyric, "I loved you in the best way possible." In the video for the song, the band members are splashed in the face with water as they scream the lyrics, either a weird appropriation of the American government's response to extremism or a dramatic, visual interpretation of this moment - quite literally their own - where the arrangement has swollen around them and they all spill their guts out.
In full disclosure, it's always a little weird for these comer bands from the UK that play their first few shows in the US. The crowds are thin. The band's equipment is either in jeopardy or isn't totally there. Case in point, Dry The River's front man will break a string for which there is no immediate replacement. The last song is played without a functional acoustic guitar. Further, Rock Shop, a venue that fire codes at 90 is well below capacity. This is no affront to the band, but rather one of those moments that later fans and listeners will look back on and think, "Holy shit, they played Rock Shop? Where was I?"
It's no one's fault really. The average, even the literate, US consumer relies on a sick combination of immediacy and repetition. They will like this when they hear it, but they will also need to hear it a few times before they fork over money to see and be a part of it. Sony Corporate will need to offer the activation energy to address the first and the touring budget to address the second. After that, and what we assume is a few commercial syncs (and here, can you whet your knives on "No Rest" for some NBC show or the conclusion of the next HBO looker?) this band will be primed to sell a lot of records in this country. We may be a little flawed, us, but we will love them in the best way possible.
Of course, these commercial asides, as important as they will be to the band's ability to pay a mortgage, are of little relivance on this evening. They can wait for later. The band plays live staples, "Bible Belt" an awesomely slow build, featuring the astute lyric, "The devil's in the Bible Belt" and first single, "New Ceremony". It would be easy to write this off as another Noah And The Whale, a group of London folk kids with exactly two card tricks, easily figured . But, "New Ceramony" confirms a different antecedent. This band rips. Even in their quiet moments, singing delicate harmonies away from microphones, a trick that Stornoway brought these shores last summer, they hold a dangerous potential energy, like at any moment they will explode into a second movement, something you may not have seen coming (go listen again to the first minute of "No Rest" and ask yourself if you had any idea what was next). And for an American audience, the few that treked out faithfully to see one of these moments before the moment, it is impossible to fully see the next thing. Dry The River will have an enormous 2012, whether you can entirely understand that or not.
Dry the River - "New Ceremony" by Dry the River