Martin Longley quaffs a pint of laced maple syrup in Kings Heath.
Hare & Hounds
In this double package of Canadian rock combos, Dilly Dally were the ostensible headliners, but Weaves were the far superior outfit. This latter Toronto four-piece appeared to have spent several weeks in the UK, or at least European parts, honing their live skills via a heavy datesheet. This was the first time that your scribe had confronted their fleshy essence, although already seduced by their recorded work.
Their antecedents aren’t massively clear. They’re too song-based to be post-post-rock, too convoluted to be punky and too adventurously virtuoso to entirely avoid comparisons with the outsider avant garde. The crew that most spring to mind are Pere Ubu, particularly as singer Jasmyn Burke tends to command the stage with an easy-going intensity, partly twinkling with humour, partly staring out the front row of the audience, with an unhinged curiosity. Her mannered phrasing always holds a melodic charm, but her general delivery is swoopingly rocky, locked in with the comparably verbal guitar lines of Morgan Waters, who works a telepathic bond with drummer Spencer Cole.
Once they count in a song, nothing can arrest their precision careening. When Waters lets his bottleneck flash up and down his strings, we can’t help avoiding a Captain Beefheart comparison. The heavily driving One More is unavoidably their best number, and also the rockiest, delivering the necessary riffs for maximum excitement, but some of their other more sinuous songs weave a different spell, out of ambling rhythms and spoken-sung intricacies. Weaves are affable, but also strangely menacing, the former when talking to the crowd, the latter once a song explodes.
The official headliners of this gig, Dilly Dally, also arrive from Toronto. Their name suggests something quainter than their actual hard-ass post-grunge onslaught, to the point where it’s completely misleading. Perhaps this is intentional. The vocals of Katie Monks are a strained, throaty, anguished, raspy yowl of anger and frustration, very powerful, but also not that well controlled. She’s doubtless in thrall to the sound of Courtney Love (Hole) and Kat Bjelland (Babes In Toyand), but both of those singers can beautifully sculpt their hoarse rawness, and direct it with an unerring cut.
Monks also plays guitar, in rhythm fashion, and with a much harsher sound than lead guitarist Liz Ball, who operates in a completely contrasting sonic sphere. Ball is constantly picking out circular phrases, with a heavy reverb, sneaking around the riffing pile-ups of her colleagues. She’s the most creative member of the band. Dilly Dally only released their debut album last year, so they’re already quite advanced. Set beside Weaves, though, they sounded very direct and basic in their approach, missing the perceptively ironic performance stance, intricate musicianship and advanced songwriting abilities of their opening act.
Pic: Sam Wood