Helen Payne popped along to Bristol’s Marble Factory to catch the best in atmospheric folk-rock, Dry the River.
Dry the River
Bristol Marble Factory
26th February 2015
After walking probably the wrong way through a construction site in the depths of Bristol, we found the Marble Factory to watch the mesmerising Dry the River. After purchasing a questionable cider, the first support act by the name of Liberto Wolf mounted the stage. Two members of which may have had (intentional?) wardrobe malfunctions with their beanie hats. Oh dear. At least the music was good. Their set began smoothly and quite psychedelic, and the front man’s voice was effortless and tentative, not at all what I had expect from the Jesus-beard and long hair. He even acknowledged his mum in the audience. Their set picked up with their best known song ‘The Palace’, featuring a surf-rock-esque guitar solo combined with crashing cymbals and distorted chords. The set ended with Liberto Wolf telling us their EP will be out in April. I’ll probably buy it.
The next support act was Blaenavon, known online as ‘3 boys with a story to tell’. As a Cardiff girl, I was disappointed to find out they are from Hampshire, not the small Welsh town their name suggests. Shame. Once they started playing I realised I had seen them before, and a post-gig search revealed they had played the Far Out stage at Green Man 2013. They were great then, but even better 2 years on. They played songs from their Koso EP including the sad but summery ‘Gods’ and muted riffs of Wunderkind. I prefer the more intriguing and faster pace of Into the Night, which had literally everyone (yes, I mean literally. I looked around to see the whole venue in unison) nodding their heads. Their next few songs had delicate guitars and whiny vocals that seemed to get a bit samey, until it transformed into the stabbing chords and haunting, repeated lyrics of ‘wait for me’ of the memorable Denim Patches.
The crowd was getting excited, and the room filled up massively in anticipation for Dry the River. Overhearing two tall middle aged men in hats who stood right in front of us, one asked the other “There’s a lot of teenage girls here – which one is the heartthrob?” It makes me sad that some people think girls like myself can’t be into good music without fancying a band member. C’est la vie. Dry the River eventually came on stage, most members sporting long hair (in fact, DTR’s drummer was the only one on stage all night not to have hair past ear length). The back drop to the set was a painting of a sabretooth tiger, a woolly mammoth and a fish looking creature that my friend decided was the Loch Ness monster (I’m now sat Googling prehistoric sea creatures. Talk about distraction). They opened with the first track from their newest album Alarms of the Heart, which was recorded in Iceland, and received appreciative applause. They performed exactly as I had hoped: brilliant in every way, jumping around the stage on the faster ones and a gentle, humble approach to the calmer songs. However there was a lack of Shallow Bed songs: no ‘Animal Skins’ or ‘Shield Your Eyes’, but we did get ‘New Ceremony’ which was sung along by the audience passionately, hence me having lost my voice the next day. We also saw multiple pretty, acoustic songs like ‘Shaker Hymns’, during which I spotted a violinist hidden at the back of the stage. The layering of instruments and harmonies made it all the more beautiful to listen to. Overall it was an incredible set that made me fall in love with Dry the River all over again.
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