Shall I write about the most expensive gig I have ever been for… erm… free? Yes but I’ll do it below in the “photo tip”.
Before that, few words about Deap Vally, which is what I went to see few weeks ago in this summer of concerts that, as usual in UK, is being all about weekend festivals with a sparse theatre shows.
One of these few shows that I managed to spot, sort and go have bee Deap Vally’s at Madame Jojo’s in London.
I was recently at Madame Jojo’s for Smoke Fairies album Launch.
I love Smoke Fairies, you must know this if you aren’t new to this old blog… I also loved the place and promised I’d get any chance to give it a second visit.
Deap Vally have been out for a while and I’ve been missing their show for more than that. It was time to fill the void.
When they came out they kind of checked all the bits Iusually like in a band.
Garage – checked.
Bluesy – Checked.
Duo – Checked.
Guitars and Drums – Checked.
Even the plus of having two girrrrrls on stage. How to miss that?
I bought Deap Vally debut album, Sistrionix, about a year ago. Yes, it has been out for a while.
It was very talked about too. Well covered in the mainstream paper reviews, one of the last few advantages of signing with a major, Island, when not targeting pop audeinces.
The album, I must admit, feels good on first listening, and it’s a pleasant record, but in the following months it hasn’t seen my CD player often. Is there a word meaning the opposite of a “grower”?
2013 was a great year for music and even 2014 hasn’t started that bad at all. With so much music to go for, stream, spend money into, I forgot to monitor Deap Vally UK tours. Also read… come to Cambridge girls!
Deap Vally are from Los Angeles, California, not your first garage location. Too sunny, too starlet, too sunset boulevard.
Their story is the classic “two friends met at school”, with the best twist. The school was a crochet class!
I think if garage musicians aren’t many in California, musicians who want to put on garage blues band in Los Angeles and bot love crochet is a tale ready for a movie. Not a Hollywood one, though, time to move to Berlin.
Born to be away from LA!
Facts are: Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards met, became friends, talked about music and started a band which name is Deap Vally which I don’t know what it means.
They were born in 2011. Lindsey is on guitars and Julie sits behind the drum kit.
They comeback to London about 3 years since they met and about one since the album was released.
Madame Jojo’s is a small venue and sells-out quickly. It’s what here call “intimate”.
The over decorated baroque, fake gold-plated, red-velvet, opera-theatre design matches well the band. Maybe in their subconscious recalls crochet days.
I like Madame Jojos because it is one of the few venue with some tungsten lights, the traditional yellow light, that is being replaced by LEDs.
First a storming set by Howl, a support band that choses the least obvious name to bring their garage fuelled blues-rock to unexpected heights.
Than the usual half hour standing in the (not pitted) front plus five minutes of compulsory clapping, waiting.
Julie and Lindsey arrive, in shorts and glitter.
With just one album out and enough tour bus rides on their diary I know what to expect, song-wise. The album and a couple of new songs written during tour breaks. More than at songs, I am interested at the sound and the live show.
Inevitably the first two blues-rock duos to come to mind are the (Jack) White Stripes and the Black Keys. If you expected someone to replace the void they both, for different left to take different directions, you’re not going to be satisfied.
White Stripes are irreplaceable since the day Meg vanished off the musicbiz. Because, despite what I believed when they were active, the White Stripes are Meg and are not without her. Listen to the way Jack White plays those song in his solo tour and you know that that magic is missing behind a massive wall of sound. Meg added those key voids, pauses, that Jack White can’t handle.
Black Keys, instead, went the Grammy way. The day they stopped being a duo, the day they added Rhythm to the Blues, recruited a bassist it was over. That Hills County inspired blues was left behind together with FatPossum.
Deap Vally could beseen as a void filling of either of them, but they are not.
They have their personality as a band, which is good, and also they are not because they don’t have that genius in songwriting of their epitomes.
After about an hour of music I was left with the feeling of having seen a surrogate of something. Something not yet defined.
Lindsay guitar skills aren’t at the level of Jack White or Dan Auerbach, they don’t even have Japandroids’ Brian King stormy energy. If you play guitar in a duo you have to take control of the void left by the lack of a bassist. Troy is a guitarist that would gain from bringing a bassist in the band.
Which is exactly what Haim did and gave them a very successful time.
Julie drumming is vigorous, coupled with her stage presence and flying hair, it is very entertaining.
I love when bands bring the drummer ahead and, even if she doesn’t dare to stay on the edge of the stage as Shellac’s Todd Trainer, I’m close enough to feel the passion.
Deap Vally have few good songs, and the good songs work better just because they are… better. Those have a good riffs, hooks, some melody and the chorus.
The mostly male audience gathering at the very first rows is pleased.
I think the fate of Deap Vally relies on the quality of the music that will be in their sophomore release.
I don’t know when it is going to happen but this is a classic example of a band that is in front of that “second difficult album”.
I get out on Soho narrow streets outside Madame Jojo’s on a pleasant London summer night. I have time for a stroll. While I find my way towards Piccadilly Circus tube station, I put my camera back in the bag and get out my loved 14-24mm to check everything is fine.
It is not. The zoom ring is very stiff, basically the lens doesn’t zoom and in a word doesn’t work. Repair is the solution. The amount of a Fixation bill is my next problem.
The venue was relatively quiet with only a couple of photographers at the front, no pit but quite a lot of people behind me. Difficult to get lenses out of the camera bag in this situation. I decide to mount the 24-70 and leave the 14-24 on stage, in front of me, just in case. It’s plenty of space between me and the drumkit.
Monitor suggests Lindsay Troy will be standing on the left, Julie Edwards sits at the drums. The few hardcore fans are busy shooting crap videos (vertica video is wrong, by the way) and taking photos instead of enjoing their idol in flesh and bones. Prince has a point here.
Second half of the set, Lindsay decides the moment, neither I nor the audience was expecting, arrived.
She walks towards me, stands in front of Julie drum-kit and jumps onto the few people standing there. Quite concentrated on filming a rare moment she got closed to them, they were all concentrated at their smartphone. Lindsay jumped and slowly fell down to the floor.
She was recovered by few aficionados who lift her back towards the stage. One of the worst attempt to surf-crowd I ever attended.
I saved my camera but I didn’t manage to save catch that precious ultra wide zoom lens which flew down from the stage in the hard wood floor.
Few (read: very many) bad words, with the hope it survived the crash, I put it back into the bag deciding the concert was lively enough to be impossible to change lens without a pit.
The morning after I filled a fixation form while having breakfast, sent the lens by registered mail. Prayed.
In a week time the nice (but expensive) people at Fixation called, collect my money and delivered my jewel back. It is working great, my bank account slimmed by £250.
At the price of this gig I could attend a couple of major festivals.
You can support the costs of my stupidity if you want and decorate your room. I have a large selected live-music gallery on my site at Photoshelter. you can order any print you want of Deap Vally or any other artist in my portfolio that will be delivered to your home.