Drenge

That difficult situation to complicate your situation when the situation is already complicated.
Clear, isn’t it?

Fact. Drenge is a guitar/drums English duo playing noise rock.
According to different sources they are based somewhere between Sheffield, that sounds very indie-cool since Pulp and Arctic Monkeys, or Castleton in the heart of the Peak District, which sounds more a cool place to amateur photographers and hikers rather than rockstars.

Fact. To emerge in today’s scene is not easy task.
Drenge don’t have a cool name as Japandroids (still quite cool to be fair) and they are not from indie-coolest Vancouver.
Drenge are not No Age either. These two are the noise guitar duos of reference who set a new standard for guitars/drums ensembles since Meg White depression took her away from the scenes and Dan Auerbach realised how richer R&B and Grammys make him compared to play garage blues revival in miserable bars.

Drenge are boys and girls are filling Meg void with a rise of women musicians everywhere. Deap Vally are the closest, newest example but I could count many more since Blood Red Shoes that have been around for a decade.

Loveless brothers have a steep road ahead. Eric (on vocal/guitar) and Rory (on drums) have the surname that won’t create problem to break through alternative rock aficionados. It’s not much but if their surname was Picariello it wouldn’t be easier. Maybe.

Whoever follows the independent scene knows that live is the only place to appreciate these bands. Drenge are not exceptions.
They had several appearances at festival last summer and while they were building a fanbase out of distorsion, feedback and decibels, they have become famous even faster than they desired.

If you know the story, skip this and lok at the photos. If you don’t read, it’s funny.
It doesn’t happen every day that a seminal, young band makes the national headlines. Drenge did.

It all started on early july, AD2013. Tom Watson a Labour MP resigns writing an animated, public open letter to Labour leader Ed MIlliband.

The letter has appeared here and it’s worth reading in full.
The bit in topic for this post is at its end.

“… John Humphrys asked me why you were not at Glastonbury this weekend. I said Labour leaders can’t be seen standing in muddy fields listening to bands. And then I thought how terribly sad that this is true. So: be that great Labour leader that you can be, but try to have a real life too. And if you want to see an awesome band, I recommend Drenge.

Yours sincerely,
Tom Watson
Member of Parliament for West Bromwich East”

That day Drenge were scheduled to play Roskilde. Any other journalist was trying to catch a comment while streaming their music all over the web in the attempt to understand what the fuss was all about.

Wisely playing it down, it took few days for Drenge to reply. With a nice statement:

“It’s got nothing to do with us really. We’ve had no involvement in it,” the drummer Rory Loveless told BBC Newsbeat. “It’s just a guy signing off in a quirky manner and mentioning us … I’m not totally overjoyed that it happened but at the same time I don’t really care.
I’m glad he’s a fan and that other people have discovered us through it. My mum’s a fan but when she says she is a fan to her mate there’s no media storm over that.”

I am among the many who discovered them through the media storm, to be honest.
About a month later the Guardian streamed the self-titled LP in full (still here at the time of writing).

I was now looking forward to seeing the ‘awesomeness’ that impressed the ex-Labour MP live.

Two more months and Drenge are touring UK including a very comfortable Cambridge date down to my local live music pub, the Portland Arms.

Without a trip to London, in a venue much smaller compared to the same band would play in the capital, I go to take some photos, listen to music and still have the early night in the middle of the week.

Portland Arms is sold-out well in advance.
Sweaty despite autumn’s coming, the stage is small even for the two Loveless brothers.
Rory sits at the drums in an angle on the back. He hides his face behind a long fringe not hiding his English shyness. Rory hit the kit with the steadiness of who has to replace the absence of a bass player.

Eric is the leader. He’s the one the classy Cambridge girls in the front row came to see. He looks confident and in control. Eric sings dark, obscure lyrics with an angelic face, what else he needs to be loved? Looking at the eyes of the first rows, nothing really. His guitar explores the interaction with the amplis and searches the brother often turning his back to the audience.

Musicwise, dear reviewers, I would leave the White Stripes apart for once and for good. I am fed up of citing the Stripes anytime a guitar/drums appears.
Let’s be honest, Drenge are not a blues-rock duo and it is not a problem. Actually, It would be more of a problem if a Castleton band played the blues.

Drenge are young and close enough to Sheffield to have grown up with the Arctic Monkeys debut as teenagers. Then they have appreciated Arctic Monkeys adultness at Josh Homme’s Guitar heavy courtDrenge have listened Japandroids  raucous drumming that has nothing to do with Meg White voids. Eric knows how Brian King sing, just listen to ‘I wanna break you in half’.

Drenge must have inherited USA garage rock vinyls from their dads. From the Stooges to Jon Spencer .
Drenge, most important, mix all of this in a personal recipe that is personal and tasty.

Trust them when they say they recorded the album out of boredom. The energy and the aggressiveness in it can well be a sublimation of endless grey afternoons spent in Castleton with the rain outside few audacious in the streets and an ampli to vindicate.

Drenge album is (still) online as well as their network here. Stay in touch on [website][facebook][twitter][spotify]

Photo tip

I’m short of photo tips as much as I’m fed up to complain about poor lights and what to do with it.

Let’s get a bit technical, there is one thing I left out, maybe because subconsciously this blog is still about film photography.
This tool is probably the most important of digital cameras compared to film cameras: Histograms.
And it is also the most neglected tool by amateurs and photography newbies.

It’s difficult to distinguish a pro from amateur photographer nowadays but the easiest is to ask about histograms.
My very quick check poll among photographers tells that all the pros make good use of them, while most amateurs ignore.

All DSLR have the option accessible in the back monitor pressing some button. Get the manual and find it out.
What a Histogram reveals is how the light is distributed in your frame. Shows whether there are zones that have not detail (too dark or too bright) and if there is an unbalanced exposure.

There is not a right and wrong histogram, there are just histograms.
If you are after a very dark photo with a strong light somewhere, the curve will only show a sharp peak out of almost flatness. (The presence of that ‘almost’ is very important because it tells about the presence of details versus pitch black.

An overexposed photo, as in a beauty portrait or a tree in the snow, wold have the left side of the curve (belonging to dark areas) almost flat. For the importance of ‘almost’ see above.

So how to read and more important, what to do?

Ideally if you want details and tonal range throughout the luminance spectrum there should be some ‘area below the curve’ throughout the frame.
If the right is missing the picture is too dark, which is what happens at most concerts.
If the left is missing you’re overexposing. Which is what never happens at concerts.
You can control tom some extent this with exposure or compensation.

Strong lights come as sharp peaks. Diffuse lights give smoother curves.
You can’t do much about this. Despite the latitude of exposure of digital sensor is much wider than negative films (and slides) still there are limits between highlights and low areas.

I’m not here intending to write a full chapter on histograms. Internet is plenty of great ones. I just wanted to remind you of the existence of the button that gives you the histogram.
Next show, instead of chimping your photos (do that at home) have a look at the histogram an learns how to improve the quality of the images from it.

It goes without saying, but I say it again, all of this must be used together with raw shooting.

If you don’t shoot raw you’re doing it wrong. No exceptions.

~ by Valerio on October 24, 2013.

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