Charity Swales

Drenge @ Invisible Wind Factory

Once given a shoutout by Labour MP Tom Watson in his 2016 resignation, Drenge have been a protruding force in the underground music scene, despite hailing from the sleepy peak-district town of Castleton. Proceeding their snarling 2015 release Undertow, the Loveless brothers Rory (Drums) and Eoin (Vocals/Lead Guitar), along with newly added bassist Rob Graham, who constitute the alt-rock three piece Drenge, take to the stage of the colossal Invisible Wind Factory, for a night of raucous debauchery, supported by Liverpool outfit Strange Collective and DSM VII.

I arrived just in time to catch second support act DSM VII, whose eccentric aesthetic, combines Freddie Mercury with a seedy 70’s porn star, mulleted and mustached; but being named after a mental health diagnostic manual, it would be foolish to expect anything but unconventional. Driven by the 80’s synth drum, the frontman ringleads himself into the crowd, microphone in hand, parting the crowd like Moses on Class A’s. They prove themselves an energetic and enigmatic band.

True to their word, The Grand Opening begins both literally and metaphorically, with the ceremonial cutting of the red ribbon, the beginning of 2018’s regenerated Drenge. The industrial surroundings of the renovated dockside warehouse is reflected in the bands choice of get up, boiler suits, goggles and all, and their cacophonous sound could find no better of a home. Kicking off into live debut of a thunderous new tune Bonfire, which echoes a more Fall-like spoken word ensemble, circle pits ensue. A throng of bodies clash together and flailing limbs protrude from the energetic crowd, setting the tone for the rest of the show.

The ominous bitterly ironic lyrics, against the menacing guitar and thrashing drums have always made the band a favourite, but when not thrashing at their instruments, the band appear quite humble and altruistic. The band even stop midway through the set, presenting a giant homemade cheque to a regeneration fund, which you could make donations towards by the merch stand. While most bands simply put on a gig, Drenge put on a show.

A mixture of new debuted songs, and old favourites off of the previous two albums, provide an engaging, but unrestrictive setlist, implying that the three year gap between new material was not a death sentence, with the increasingly difficult alt-music scene. The crowd go particularly wild for We Can Do What We Want and Bloodsports, high energy songs driven by breakneck guitar riffs.

The highlight of the night comes at the end, as the band finish with one of the most poignant songs of their self titled debut album, F**kabout. Eoin takes his seat among the crowd, with just himself and a guitar, with the previously vociferous crowd, descending into a stasis of calm around him, “I don’t give a f**k about people in love, they don’t p*ss me off they just make me give up”, reverberates around the IWF. A member of the audience takes the guitar, to which the age old joke of “Play Wonderwall!”, echoes around the crowd. He does. The crowd goes wild.

Drenge’s return after their 3 year absence, prove that they are still a driving force in the British alt-music scene. The Grand Reopening tour has ascended the hype which surrounded them 5 years ago, and has got people once again riding it, just in time for the release of their new album.

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