La Dispute: Manchester Gorilla – live review
20 May, 2014
Surviving the heat of Manchester’s Gorilla, Ian Critchley applauds La Dispute’s intensity, commitment and orginality.
I had just run to this show – for the charity MIND – and, with my legs well and truly done in, I searched for a seat or at least a wall I could lean against amongst the crowd of surprisingly youthful patrons in the 2,000 degree temperature of Manchester’s Gorilla. I found a small protruding piece of wood at the top of the stairs situated at the rear of the room and seated myself while my legs recuperated slightly and the two support acts played.
The first of which was Eugene Quell, who usually plays solo but who’d managed to wangle a full band for this tour. Having never heard the man before I couldn’t compare the two incarnations, but this current set up came across as a dirtier, and much heavier, version of The White Stripes ‘Elephant’ days. Opening for a band like La Dispute was no doubt a daunting task and the nerves showed when the vocals occasionally wavered, but pockets of the audience were clearly taken by the set with their bodies gyrating in time to the downbeat sound.
I was impressed with O’Brother‘s opening song, which was reminiscent of the early sounds of Queens Of The Stone Age. The heavy stoner rock feel gave new energy to my depleted reserves. This new found boost was soon vanquished though as the music moved quickly away from the upbeat and into the realm of over-elaborate breakdowns. Though all very talented with their respective instruments the songs lacked impact and it felt as if the band was merely flaunting their prowess as musicians rather than trying to create something honest and pure. The near ten minute songs became a tedious irritant rather than the interesting experimentation they were aiming to be.
Waiting for La Dispute to start I felt the electricity of the room form on the tips of my teeth. My mind and heart raced in complete defiance to my exterior perception of a room that felt as if it was moving at half speed.
I took my weary thighs down into the crowd to become more absorbed in the atmosphere. Without a single moment of evaluation the band took to the stage and instantly tore into ‘HUDSONVILLE MI 1956’, with singer Jordan Dreyer pirouetting around armed with a tambourine and the lung capacity of a shire horse. It’s clear La Dispute are proud of their latest record Rooms Of The House (and rightly so) with the majority of songs tonight taken from that album. And it was clear their fanbase felt the same as they tried to keep up with the non-stop rhythm of Dreyer’s spoken word influenced vocal while the band dipped from a mellifluous cadence of melody into nerve-shredding distortion.
“Can everyone please put their cellphones away?” Jordan asked between two of the their songs. “This is more than just us on a stage. This is an experience we are all a part of, and it looks much better in person than on a 4-inch screen.” The audience reciprocated and in doing so the feeling of intimacy increased ten fold and the entire room was an orgy of hot, sweat drenched, musical appreciation.
The band left the stage for a brief intermission while the room basked in the ambient glow of the artistic backdrop before they returned to finish off the crowd with the combo of ‘A Broker Jar’ and the incredible ‘King Park’. The gig ended as it had begun and progressed throughout, with a room packed with people brimming with vitality and wholly dedicated to the music of Hardcore’s most interesting, original, and talented band to date.
All words by Ian Critchley, find his Louder Than War archive here.