This DMA’s article was written by Ben Duncan Duggal, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse
Is it an honour to receive the public attention of Noel Gallagher? Although all publicity is good publicity, that honour must be lessened slightly by the fact he said that if he ever saw the DMA’s live he’d “stand in the wings and boo them“, due to the fact that the band sound exactly the same as Oasis. Luckily he’s not here tonight – this tiny venue has no wings. And here, tonight, no one is worried about old bands.
That might not be the only thing DMAs have to worry about tonight, though. Not that they’re aware of that, or at least they wouldn’t be until they start playing. The venue, Start the Bus, has a notoriously bad sound. One gig by hardcore punk band Perfect Pussy became an onslaught of noise. That’s what you want for a punk band, granted, but not to the point where even long time fans were struggling to distinguish between songs.
They get off on the right foot, though. The melody of ‘Feels Like 37,’ one of the band’s paciest, cuts right through any worries about sound quality. For a moment, it seems like the DMA’s might have shown us that truly great songs don’t need good or even passable sound. When the right notes are there, nothing else matters.
But maybe it does. Or, rather, the notes just aren’t quite there in places. The room creates a sea of sound, rather than a series of instruments, and it’s always a challenge for the band to float their songs above the sea. Any which don’t are mercilessly pulled under the waves and smothered in a blanket of dirge. That’s why the majority of the DMA’s songs end up sounding like bad shoegaze. Bearing in mind that they’re going for a very different 90s icon’s sound, it’s disappointing for anybody who has come to see the band.
New single ‘Lay Down. Your Low.’ Early classic ‘Laced.’ The roll call of pretty good songs sacrificed on the altar of a terrible venue, half way around the world from where the band lives, is endless. The venue somehow even manages to soak up the heartfelt promise of man-and-a-guitar ballad ‘So We Know,’ with the acoustic guitar’s treble ending up higher than the sun. Worst of all, though, is when the sound somehow falls into place during the first half of quiet-then-loud song of two halves ‘Delete.’ The audience wince in anticipation as the usually triumphant second half of the song smashed its way in. It was justified, of course.
It was a stunningly disappointing night. Whose fault was that, though? At first glance it wasn’t the band’s – whilst the bad sound laid every single timing fault out naked, it wasn’t enough to destroy the songs. And the songs are good; we know that from the recordings. In this bleary post mortem, it appears that the blame can only lie at the venue and soundman’s feet.
But although the sound ruined what would have otherwise been an enjoyable gig, there was something revealing about the fact that none of the songs would stick. The melodies weren’t there. Buried in sound and fine on another day, yes, but it made you wonder if a truly stunning band – Oasis themselves, for example – would have been able to power through it given the quality of their songs.
The DMA’s and their songs failed to conquer this terrible venue, though it was an unfairly gargantuan task. They knew it, too – throughout the gig frontman Tommy varied between sad, angry and frustrated, and at the end he stormed off before the last song was finished. You couldn’t blame him. Who would want to be playing in British shoeboxes when you could be in Australia?